'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

The Art of Sailing – or not…

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We are sailors at heart.

And by “sailor” I mean we are two people who chose to buy a sailboat specifically so that we could use the sails to propel the boat from place to place, day-in and day-out. 

We knew when we started this trip south that we’d have to use the engine more than we’d rather. In Maine, the engine was used to leave the mooring sometimes (when it was too crowded to feel confident of not hitting another boat), to maneuver for anchoring, and to return to the mooring, sometimes.  In our first season of sailing Sionna, we used about 12 gallons of diesel fuel in 4 months of local sailing – and we sailed a LOT.

But the ICW is a different kettle of fish. Some areas are through what looks like an open bay, yet even then, it’s as likely that a channel has been dredged through relatively shallow water, and you need to follow the marks that define that channel. 

Lots of water? Think again. Outside the channel, it’s 3-8 feet at best.


But we have learned the joys of motorsailing.  It’s a combination of motoring and sailing, with one or more sails up and drawing, helping Mr. Diesel do his job.  It’s not quite sailing, of course, but it does at least feel kinda like it, and it also improves our fuel mileage significantly. Sionna’s little 24 horsepower engine normally burns about .6 of a gallon an hour at moderate power settings, but with the Genny (large headsail) pulling, that drops to about a quart.  For comparison, some of the motor yachts we’ve met – not awfully big ones – are burning 8 to 10 gallons an hour.  Yikes!  Glad we don’t have their fuel bill.

Motoring under the bridge the leads to Brunswick, GA.


We’ll write a bit more shortly about the last couple weeks of moving south through Georgia. It’s been a mix of  rare lovely days and long stretches of cool, damp, windy and rough, and its reminded us again that you can’t always plan your experience: Mother Nature always bats last.  

Still, those hours of warmth and sun, while the folks up north are seeing their first snow storms and single-digit temperatures? Priceless. We wouldn’t trade it.

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Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. We've paused in Boot Key Harbor, and are now exploring the Keys until we leave the boat and return to Maine for a summer of employment. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

5 thoughts on “The Art of Sailing – or not…

  1. “Mother Nature always bats last.” – love it!

    Lookin’ good, you two, in that last pic! Nice to see both your eyes again, Keith…

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  2. That’s the attitude! I found the ICW surprisingly challenging, which made the ocean passages in comparison seem so easy! Who knew?! I think you are headed to the Keys? I know what you are doing is challenging in every way. I’ll be interested to hear where you decide to stop!

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  3. I remember a part of the safety talk that the skippers of the two historic replica boats, built by volunteers at Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, FL where I was the museum curator, would give to the visitor passengers. The boats would go around the bay and ICW just south of Sarasota that the historic site bordered. The passengers were told that if the boat sank or they fell overboard, not to worry because the water was so shallow outside of the channel that all most adults had to do was to simply stand up! No swimming involved.

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    • Its amazing how much of the east coast is like that! We owed to consider 30′ of water “shallow” back in Maine. Now we don’t blink until it’s under ten and decreasing!

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