under sail only in these conditions, satisfactory progress
for those used to traveling by sail. The SP Cruiser heeled
only about 5 degrees and was stable, and we experienced
no rolling whatsoever. This amount of heel in the
conditions we experienced was very comfortable and
far less than what you’d experience on a comparable
cruising sailboat carrying full sail.
We started the engine and ran at 2800 rpm on a
broad-reach course with the sails deployed. Our speed
over the ground settled in at about 9 knots, with 12
knots showing on the apparent wind speed gauge. Under
power alone on the PY Cruiser, I had recorded 7. 8 knots
at 2800 rpm, so we’d achieved a 1.2-knot increase (over
15 percent) in boat speed performance with the sails. We
were also able to throttle back to 2400 rpm and maintain
7. 8 knots, substantiating the 15 percent improvement
in efficiency. Over a full season of cruising, or more if
cruising full time, this could translate into substantial
savings in fuel costs.
The sail-handling requirements were minimal on this
boat. Both the mainsail and jib were controlled by
electric winches operable from the enclosed helm. A
mere push of the buttons raised or lowered the sails,
while another button provided sail trim. This is a
desirable but somewhat expensive option, adding
$18,000 to the cost of the boat. The basic cost difference
of $30,000 reflected in the list price of the PY Cruiser
and the SP Cruiser covers the additional cost of the
mast, boom, standing rigging, and running rigging.
The layout of each yacht below decks was identical to
provide secure storage for pots, pans, dishes, silverware,
and supplies. This is an absolute requirement for a boat
designed to accept a moderate amount of heel, but
just as desirable in a trawler without a mechanical
It would be difficult to generalize on the performance
variations of all motorsailers and all trawlers based
on this one test, but it did provide an opportunity
for a direct comparison within one product line. Only
through application to and experimentation with your
own cruising style could you truly evaluate the benefits
of the sail/power configuration.
Maine, the Hinckley 35 sailboat they had chartered
developed a problem, and a Nauticat 33 motorsailer was
offered in its place. Initially disappointed, they grew to
love the boat and its enclosed pilothouse/saloon as the
weather turned cold, cloudy, and windy for the next
week. “We were delighted with the warm, cozy saloon
and the many large windows,” said Jan. They never
forgot the advantages of the motorsailer.
An interesting used motorsailer I found was a
Schucker 440 built in Cape Coral, Florida. The designer
and builder, Jim Schucker, produced more than 100 of
these true motorsailers in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
They have developed a cult-like following, with an
owners’ group that maintains an excellent website.
Below the waterline, the Schucker has round bilges,
coupled with an 18-inch continuous keel enclosing 7,000
lb. of steel ballast. Her 47-foot roller furler mast carries
750 sq. ft. of sail. A speed of 7. 8 knots can be achieved
under power alone with an 85hp Perkins diesel. On a
broad reach in a 15-knot breeze, she can attain 6 knots
On a recent cruise to one of our favorite anchorages
on the west coast of Florida, a couple dropped anchor
not far away. I immediately recognized their boat as a
Pearson 365 Pilothouse.
After allowing our new neighbors sufficient time to
settle in, I rowed over and introduced myself to Jack and
Jan Stevenson, owners of Bluegrass. I learned that over
the years they had done a lot of chartering. On a trip to
When tested under sail, the Island Packet SP Cruiser motorsailer
performed well and offered a comfortable ride, demonstrating
the added stability benefits of a sail rig.