Story By BILL JACOBS
The Return Of The Motorsailer
Bill Jacobs; Illustration courtesy of Sam Devlin
The endless headlines show no relief from soaring fuel prices due to
limited quantities of oil, rising world demand, and increased production
and distribution costs for diesel in the United States. Just as daunting is
the challenge of producing efficient fuel alternatives in the near future.
Expert comments range from sobering to downright depressing. Our
cruising dreams are in peril. Is it time to think hybrid on the sea as well
as on land?
The motorsailer has often been overlooked by boaters and by the
press. Experienced sailors may not see the value in a heavy, relatively
under-canvased hull, and dyed-in-the-wool power cruisers might not
have experience handling sails. Magazines dedicated to the world of
power or sail don’t always see the relevance of the motorsailer to their
But there is a sizeable if somewhat silent group of motorsailer
aficionados who have long understood the design principles and
performance potential of combining power and sail in one efficient,
comfortable, and economical craft. In this new era of interest in fuel
economy and minimal environmental impact, perhaps the time has
come to reexamine the motorsailer, the original hybrid yacht.
TURNING BACK THE PAGES
Motorsailers go back in history to the very beginning of motorboats.
In fact, they were born in the transition from sail-powered workboats to
engine-powered workboats. As lighter engines became available and
were put into working hulls originally powered by sails, sometimes the
rig was left intact to provide stability and an alternate source of power.