California Coastal Cruising

Cruising outside the Golden Gate and making passages to Bodega Bay, the Farallon Islands, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Moro Bay, Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands, seems just beyond reach for most new sailboat owners.

What they lack is experience sailing on and anchoring in those coastal waters.

But, they can gain that coastal experience under […]


I was recently asked, “What is better for my motor yacht, jet propulsion or traditional twin screw diesels?”

My answer was, “That depends on whether you want performance (speed) or cruising economy, and that is further affected by the size of your yacht.”

In the early 1990’s water jet propulsion, with its increased speed derived from the same horsepower, was the new model for performance motor yachts. But, jet drives have recently fallen out of favor as the optimal propulsion for cruising yachts over 100 feet.

On the other hand they are still an enticing choice for mid-sized performance yachts in the 70 to 90 foot range (like the Riva 86 domino or the Pershing 74) especially when the increased engine life which a jet driving diesel will have is factored into the buying decision. When the boat will be spending 85% of its time operating at full speed the jet drive, and only operated at the less efficient slower speeds near the dock, then a jet drive is simply the optimal choice.

But, for cruising yachts carrying large fuel loads, which are normally operated at slow and medium speeds jet drives are not a good choice. This is because a jets fuel economy at high speed or slow speed is nearly identical to their high speed consumption. By contrast, a traditional twin screw diesel installation can increase its fuel economy by a factor of three at lower speeds. Consequently, for owners of large motor yachts jets no longer have the same allure as 20 years ago.



US Sailing published a report cited on page C2 of the August 9th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, discussing the loss of the racing vessel Slow Speed Chase in the Farallones earlier this year. The report stated that,

“If the crew of Low Speed Chase had sailed in deeper water, they could have prevented the tragedy”.

The report cited “Failure of seamanship in negotiating shoal waters on a lee shore”, as the main safety issue in which the crew failed to consider the risks associated with waves at that depth of 28 feet. As a result of this failure five people were killed. Yet, what happened to this boat was predictable and foreseeable.

Sailors with many years of experience sailing inside SF Bay often know how to successfully predict winds and currents, and do so quite accurately, including foreseeing counter currents and back eddies. Such experienced racers can predict how the wind will channel around capes and bluffs, and by watching the amount of overcast or clear skies can tell you how windy it will get later that afternoon. Their ability comes from studying the principles of winds and currents and through experience applying these principles to racing on SF Bay.


UPDATE: On previous blog about where to find parts for older boat engines

In an earlier blog I discussed where to get parts for older boat engines and since then another valuable resource has come to light.

L.A. HARBOR MARINE, located in Wilmington, is the Gray Marine Authorized West Coast Distributor, and they carry everything for Gray Marine engines, including rebuilt engines, tune up parts, starters, transmissions, engine parts, engine manuals, gaskets, manifolds, and engine logos. And they rebuild engines, and people ship their engines to them from all over the U.S..

They also have many parts for ChrisCraft, Chrysler, Chevrolet and Hercules engines, all fo which they also rebuild. They also represent Velvet Drive transmissions, and an assortment of other marine hardware items.


Where to Find Parts for Older Boat Engines

When you purchase an older used boat, it may have an engine that is no longer in production, and parts may be hard to find. With the cost of new diesels starting at around $7,000 for a miniscule 9 hp Yanmar, fixing the old engine is probably a very economical idea.

Unfortunately, most service department mechanics are good at repairing engines that are less than ten years old and while the new factory parts are still available. But, with most boat engines, ten years may just be the break in period. It is in the 15 to 20 year age range that they begin to fail and need parts.

I am often asked questions like, Where do I get parts for my Albin engine?, or, Who builds Palmer engines?, and ?Do they still make Passagemaker engines??.

One proposed way to solve the older engine problem is to buy an identical second engine. Find another old, and hopefully worn out, boat for sale, which has an operating engine just like yours. Buy the old wreck with the good engine for three of four thousand. Steal the engine and put it in the back of the garage for spare parts, and then sell that older boat without an engine, for two to three thousand. It is actually easy to sell older engineless sailboats, especially if they have a secondary outboard motor mount. It is a little more difficult with a power boat, to sell it without an engine.


Overseas Delivery May Not Be a Dream Vacation

THE DREAM: In February it was a dream come true. Arnstein Mustad had just bought a new Robert Perry designed Tayana 48. Anticipating an idyllic voyage home from the Orient, he hurriedly sold the home, farmed out the dog, stored his furniture and got his passport in order.

Flying to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the first week in March, Mustad spend a month commissioning the new boat, at Ta Yang Yacht Building Company, before his crew began to arrive. One big incentive for this dream cruise, was that the shipping cost savings would finance the voyage itself. He might take off three or four months from work, pay the crew?s flights out to Taiwan and still come out dollars ahead.

Yet, idyllic dreams have a way of becoming nightmares when reality sets in. Minor troubles crop up with all new boats, and may not show up in day long cruises near the building yard. They might only materialize on a week long shakedown at sea. Repair delays can compound into additional expenses. Missed schedules can mean flying the original crew home to their jobs, recruiting and flying out replacement crew. Western Pacific flights from the U.S. can cost over $1000 one way. These added expenses quickly eat up any savings on the purchase price.