SKIP NOVAK
Yachting World|November 2021
ASKING THE UNASKABLE QUESTION: WHEN IS IT TIME TO GIVE UP SAIL IN FAVOUR OF POWER?

After 30 days on charter in Svalbard with little or no wind, where the sailing vessel Vinson of Antarctica motored everywhere we had to go, the old question of sail versus power, at least for a working vessel, again loomed large. After an experience like that, discussing the pros and cons with both the crew and the charter clients becomes inevitable.

Several of my colleagues in the south have evolved (or devolved depending on how you look at it), from sail to power. For a working platform a motor vessel of the same length does have several advantages over sail. More internal volume is obvious, but things like more deck space and more cargo carrying capacity are all positives for film teams and science projects who always bring inordinate amounts of unwieldy equipment that can be difficult to accommodate and handle on a sailing vessel. When on site, usually along the coast and within an archipelago, there’s no doubt a motor vessel trumps sail. Often it’s either not possible due to ice, nor practical for detailed navigation, or just not worth the effort to make sail. You end up carrying around those poles in the air while tripping over running rigging lying idle on the deck... and you begin to wonder.

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