Monday, May 17, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why Powerboats Are Better Than Sailboats

This weekend, Tillerwoman and I enjoyed two days of glorious weather, cruising on Long Island Sound with my son and his wife in their new powerboat. I suppose it's a powerboat. It has an engine. Two of them in fact. We pottered up and down the Branford River and along the Connecticut shore and around the Thimble Islands and blasted around on a plane in more open water.

It was fun.

It made me think about All The Ways That My Son's Powerboat Is Better Than My Laser. Which should be the real title for this post. But I like misleading titles. There are lots of them on this blog.

1. It is more social. The four of us had fun hanging out on the water together. It would be fun just sitting on the boat in the slip having a glass of wine and watching the sunset (but we didn't do that this weekend.) Lasers aren't social boats.

2. You can use it even if there is no wind. There is nothing more frustrating than driving hundreds of miles to go to a Laser regatta and then sitting around for three days because there isn't enough wind to sail. It happens. Been there. Done that.

3. It is faster. Apparently their boat can reach Block Island from the New Haven area in about two and a half hours. That's about 70 miles. No way I could do that in a Laser in that time. So you can actually go places. Relatively distant places.

4. Driving fast is exciting.

5. You don't need to bother with all those esoteric skills like tacking and gybing and sailing at 45 degrees from the direction you really want to go. Not to mention how to avoid death rolls and how to do capsize recoveries.

6. You get to learn new skills like navigation and docking. I was very impressed how my son actually knew exactly where he was all the time and how to get where he wanted to be. And even more impressed by how he could spin his boat backwards through a sharp turn into his dock using mysterious (to me) combinations of forward and reverse power on his two engines all the while compensating for windage and tidage and ullage and all that kind of thing. Very snazzy.

7. You can sleep on their boat. Actually six people could sleep on the boat if they were really, really, very, very good friends. My son and his wife are starting to plan/dream of overnight trips they could take with their boat. Perhaps even to come and see us.

8. Their boat was incredibly good value. I guess it's the economy. And it is twenty years old. But even so... a total fun machine, two 350 hp engines, a galley, a head, a shower, six berths, stereo, fridge, GPS, etc. etc. etc. All for less than the price of a new Laser. A place to entertain friends. A vehicle for day trips on the water. A place to live in for a week's vacation. Pretty amazing value.

9. You don't get wet. It's impossible to sail a Laser without getting wet. Even if you don't capsize, which you probably will.

10. People... family, friends... will now go and visit my son and his wife so they can have rides on their boat. They will be the most popular people in their social circle. I don't think anyone has ever visited me so they could watch me sail away on my own on my Laser.


Food for thought.

Maybe I've had this boating thing all wrong for the last thirty years...


Anonymous said...

I do have to point out that some of the power boat's good features are shared with cruising sailboats (not the "faster" part, though).

Steve in Baltimore

Baydog said...

You have not had the boating thing wrong. But like I said: Motorboats can be fun! I think you are growing up young man. And part of being a grown-up is being able to appreciate things that your friends and loved ones like, whether or not you necessarily like them yourself. I'm so proud of you. You're making your mother and me very happy.

Sam Chapin said...

You can drive it around slow and give advise to Laser sailors. Then it will be a good committee boat if you can keep the PRO out of the Galley.

Antolin said... I always do, my soul is bare for you so....
1- can you pee on their boat in your foulies like you can in your laser?
2- can you just get away from it all with 6 people, cd playing, loud everybody over the engine roar as you can in your laser?
3- can you find solace on that thing with the oily smell, the vibrations, the wave banging
4- can you tolerate spending thirty bucks an hour on gas on that thing? while your laser is free to operate?!!
5- when you get to your destination do you find other nice laser sailors to build camaraderie with or do you find other power boaters talking about how theirs is or will be bigger than yours?
6- vmg is over-rated if you can't enjoy the nuances of getting the right lift or tacking on that other guy
7- sleeping 6 is difficult to beat...but there is always a motel 6 nearby
8- laser sailboats have neater names than hot hooker or reel deal or seaduction...mine is named CHEESECAKE
9- staying dry is nice too...but how welcoming is to get a little splash on a hot summer's day?
10- getting there beat me there...

when you are ready to buy that big trawler or motor yacht or cruising sailboat, give me a call at Florida Yacht Sales and I'll hook you up. this wednesday I am geting the listing for a lovely Doral 360se loaded with ammenities, 2000 model, I bet she can push 50 miles an hour on full plane ;)
be well jefe

O Docker said...

That sounds like a most excellent boat.

But imagine a boat that did most of those cool things without the noise of an engine - and that let you go sailing at the same time.

Wouldn't that be the most fantastic, insanely great, best boat ever?

Baydog said...

O men, A docker

Pat said...

///////////// Maxim /////////////

There is no ONE perfect boat.

Horses for courses and all that.

Now what might be interesting would be a high-performance 40-50' intelligently adaptive semi-rigid wing-sailed trimaran racer-cruiser sailboat with bi-mode auxiliary power: solar/electric green/economy/quiet mode and high-performance water jet drive with retractable hydrofoils. 15 knots on a sailing on a reach, 40 knots in power mode on foils. Enough?

With a hob tub that can be filled when in the harbor and a gimbal-mounted, shock-insulated wine refrigerator if you insist on complete decadence.

And berths with retractable massage units that can be programmed to adaptively respond to different individuals' aches and massage style preferences.

With autopilot connected to sensors (laser, radar, sonar, lidar, etc.) that scan the air, water surface, and underwater to steer the boat through and around waves, compensate for currents, and adjust sails for maximum speed, stability, and safety before puffs hit, and provide collision and grounding avoidance, provide optimum power and speed management for navigating safely through reefs, bars, and harbor mouths, and can send messages to tell whales and dolphins where the boat is going.

Maybe that should have been one of my entries for Sailing in 2025.

VW: mists
Can we see through the mists of time?
Or is all this just smoke and fog

Baydog said...

Pat: Wait......What?

tillerman said...


1. Foulies? Who wears foulies on a Laser?

2. I don't see why not. You can always drive a powerboat on your own if you want to get away from people. And you can always switch off the engine and stereo.

3. See 2.

4. OPB. Shhh.

5. You find other powerboaters who give you advice on windage and tidage and ullage.

6. I would never tack on that guy.

7. Motel 6??? Have you no standards?

8. If I ever name a boat I would name it, "What's the point of giving it a name if it doesn't come when you call it?"

I suggested this name to my son and he said it might be confusing if you ever had to call the Coast Guard for assistance.

9. My son's boat has a swim platform too for when you feel in need of a little splash.

10. Thank you.

Will you take my 1995 Laser in exchange for that 2000 Doral360se?

Chris Partridge said...

I have been fantasizing about owning a power boat for years. I would park a couple of rowing boats on deck and cruise from harbour to harbour, launching the rowing boats at each place to explore the local waters. Probably going up quiet inlets to waterside pubs. Mmmmmm.....

O Docker said...

I think you just like saying ullage.

tillerman said...

Being able to say "ullage" is definitely a plus. I never said "ullage" about Laser sailing.

Unknown said...

Anyone looking at a powerboat needs to seriously consider what fuel might cost going forward. After this mess in Louisiana will there be any new offshore wells? If there are will new regulations make them a much more expensive proposition, increasing the extraction cost to use them? Will you be able to afford to enjoy your boat if gas hits $4/gallon again? $5/gallon?

Kerrie in RI (fellow dinghy sailor and big boat sailor) said...

I agree with Steve in Baltimore.. a larger sailboat than a laser ( much larger) can have all the good points as the powerboat without all the stink and noise of a powerboat. Maybe you should give that a try....

so said...

being on the water
or in the water is all good
with boat (any kind)
or without boat

JP said...

I know how that temptation feels: feel the power of the dark side! I want one.

At one point I and another did look into hybrid engines, so that you could switch to the near silent electric to enjoy the peace while gliding along.

And on the cost issue.... I understand that sail boats also need maintenance which can be costly ;)

Anyhow, main conclusion is one boat is not enough. Different vessels meet different requirements.

Dennis said...

Motorboats are great, but if you end up with one, will your posts be as crazy and fun as the ones you wrote in your Laser days?

Zen said...


I must have taken a wrong turn. I was looking for the Tillerman blog on baby sailboats...

BeachComber said...

It's true, Tillerman, Lasers aren't social boats, but cabin boats are. A lot of the advantages of your son's powerboat could be had by a cabin boat, or even a bigger dinghy.

Pat said...

So, how many boats is the minimum necessary to enjoy the maximum possible variety of on-the-water experiences?

something like...
blue water cruising ketch or cutter
performance dinghy
two-person catamaran
trailerable mini-cruiser with liftable keel
jet ski boat

tillerman said...

Don't forget to add...

bouncy castle

Anonymous said...

Most people wil go power boat if they had the money, and I'm sure everyone would buy theirselves a big cabin cruiser or 70 foot Bertram Sport fisherman or some big boat they desire. But if you do talk to the people that own them, they suck down gas like no other machine out there. Of course they will go faster and they may draw more attention, but most people are better off buying a large sailboat. I have a laser also and ther're fun to sail but cruising on a big boat is more fun. I live on a 50 foot Jeanneau and it has all navigation instruments and more. You can cruise a steady 8 to 9 knots under sail which is pretty fast. If you really want to buy a bigger boat like under 40 ft you can find them on yahtworld for under 100,000 dollars.

laurettalynne said...

Did you factor in the cost of fuel? Sailboats may not be faster, but they sure are cheaper in the long run. no?

Tillerman said...

Absolutely laurettalynne. There is no doubt that, all things considered - including cost - sailboats are far superior to powerboats. I don't really like powerboats at all. I would never really want to own them. This post was just a tongue-in-cheek attempt to see if I could write a post saying a few nice things about powerboats.

There was a sequel to the story about my son and his powerboat. When it was hauled out at the end of the season it was discovered that it needed an extremely expensive repair without which it would have been dangerous to use. My son sold the boat (at a loss I think.)

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