Cruising Without An Engine…Crazy Sailboaters!

sailing shipA few nights ago when I was paddling back to the boat I met Cowboy Bob. Bob is anchored just across the channel from us. During the course of our conversation I mentioned our engine troubles. That’s when Bob told me that he’s been cruising without an engine for more than 10 years. He plans on heading down to the Keys soon. He’s just waiting on a north wind and an outgoing tide. That’s when he’ll pull his hook, drop a stern anchor, to turn the boat around, get his main up, and off he’ll go, all without an engine to help.

Do I need an engine?

This really got me thinking. We sailed up to West Palm, through the inlet, around Peanut Island, and to the spot we’re currently anchored without an engine. I’ve been joking for weeks that in my years aboard I’ve apparently become more of a sailor than a mechanic. I was already planning on converting to an outboard, but how badly do I really need an engine right now? Can I get by with a much smaller engine? I’m sure if I waited for the right weather I could at least do like Bob and sail a short distance to a different anchorage with no engine.

rainbow on thee waterIs it really practical?

Many of the naysayers on some of the cruising boards will say an engine is a necessity. It’s dangerous and irresponsible to leave without a working reliable engine. But Lin and Larry Paredy, one of the most well known cruising couples, have cruised hundreds of thousands of miles, including 2 circumnavigations with no engine. If you search the subject online you’ll even find posts from other cruisers who ran into major engine troubles they couldn’t afford to fix. Instead of turning back, they continued, and in some cases even cruised for years with no engine. And let’s not forget about Bob…or the hundreds of years of travel on the ocean, before there were engines.


Without an engine you really need to watch the weather more closely. You can’t just leave whenever you want. It forces you to wait for the right winds. There will also be some places you can’t go, or places that you can only enter with the right weather conditions. As much as I love the idea of simplicity, one less thing to maintain, saving money, and not relying on fuel, I’m not sure if I’m ready. I want to have a little more flexibility to go when and where I want…even if it’s just out to a nearby reef for a dive. But that new engine may be a little smaller than originally planned.


Kayaking The Florida Keys

Why am I writing a post about kayaking the Florida Keys now that we’re no longer there? I guess I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately with some of the problems we’ve been having. Besides our engine dying, the house batteries on the boat are pretty much shot. Those are the big batteries that power…Continue Reading

The Best Conch Fritters In The Keys…Aren’t Actually In The Keys

Heading south along Card Sound Road, just before crossing the toll booth into Monroe County, is a one of a kind relic left over from the Old Keys. Alabama Jack’s is a small open air roadside bar that acts as sort of a gateway to the Florida Keys. I’m not sure if it’s true, but…Continue Reading

Snorkeling In The Florida Keys: Hen & Chickens Reef

Looking at all of the tourist marketing hype for the Florida Keys you’d think there aren’t any reefs outside of Key Largo and Pennekamp State Park. If you travel just a little south, though, Islamorada is home to some of the best snorkeling in the entire Keys, including a few reefs that are extremely close…Continue Reading

MisFit ResQ needs our help

MisFit ResQ is the rescue where Sparky came from. They’ve stacked up thousands of dollars in vet bills and basic running costs over the last few months, while have trouble getting the donations that they need in order to operate as a nonprofit. Please vote for them so they can get funding that they desperately…Continue Reading

Your company or brand on a floating mobile billboard!

Photo Sails is a company that produces high resolution graphics on sails turning any boat into a mobile billboard. Here is a short description from their website. “Photo Sails are the most eye-catching imaged advertising sails in history. These marketing sails are capable of being custom fitted to any yacht application. Photo Sails can receive up…Continue Reading

The D.A.V.E. Initiative

The D.A.V.E. Initiative “Derelict Abandoned Vessel Eradication Initiative” is a program that was started by in Palm Beach for keeping track of anchored boats and removing at risk vessels. To date they have removed over 200 derelict vessels! If the rest of Florida would follow suit many problems would be solved, they could stop…Continue Reading

Replacing the upper unit on the Gemini stern drive

I recently had to replace the upper unit of the drive leg due to a damaged pivot point in the casting. Because of the age of the Turtle, in doing so I was also upgraded to a newer design, which uses different bearings, and runs a little more quietly. Overall there really wasn’t much to…Continue Reading