Power Boat Versus Sailboat

Since the dawn of the outboard engine, powerboaters and sailors have regarded each other with disdain. Most boaters fall firmly into one of the two camps, with a few rare creatures straddling the party lines. People who advocate both types of boats call themselves bi-boaters or transvesselites.

What do powerboaters and sailors have against each other anyway?

Sailors think powerboaters are gold chain types, with bleach blondes decorating the bow and a crew of guys with baseball caps on backwards. Their loud expensive engines leave big wakes without any consideration for other boaters. Powerboaters call sailors rag haulers, or wind cowboys; they know the wind is free and think everything else should be too. As far as powerboaters are concerned, sailors fall into two camps; self important blue blazer types who dine at the Yacht club or unwashed hippies living on natty and dilapidated sloops. These latter are all obvious generalizations but you get the idea…

hippy houseboat
A ‘hippy houseboat’, sign me up!

The truth be told, if you just plan on staying at the dock as a liveaboard, the size and space of the powerboat makes more sense. If you plan on leaving the dock, the type of boat that bests suits you all depends on the type of boating you’ll be doing; long haul versus short haul. For those who haven’t made up their mind or aren’t fiercely located in one camp or the other, there’s lots of good and bad points to be made for sailboats and powerboats, as follows:

Power Boats: the PROS

*Powerboats are usually more comfortable as a liveaboard because more of the boat is above water and these boats often have two levels, stand up galleys and heads.

*Powerboats are just getting started at 6 knots whereas that’s top speed for a lot of sailboats.

*With a powerboat you jump in, turn the key, rev the motor and off you go. You can leave anytime, go any direction in a straight line and know almost exactly when you’ll arrive.

*Powerboats have shallower drafts meaning you’re less likely to go aground and you have access to shallower water, closer to the beach for instance.

*If you like to fish, power is the way to go because you can trawl.

*No cranking winches and hauling up sails. Press buttons and things happen.

*Just like a Harley Davidson, there’s something to be said for the speed and hum of powerboats.

Power Boats: the CONS

*Powerboats are loud.

*You can only travel as long as you have fuel.

*It’s expensive to maintain engines and most powerboats usually have two engines.

*Powerboats don’t handle the wind as well as sailboats because of their higher centre of gravity.

*Fuel is expensive and it can cost a lot of money to go anywhere. And the bigger the boat, the more fuel you’ll need.

A modest Searay makes a fine liveaboard!

Sailboats: the PROS

*Sailboats are environmentally friendly

*Sailboats operate by manual labour and wind; they are not entirely fuel dependent.

*Sailboats are quiet.

*Unlimited range of travel. Sailboats can cross oceans!

*Sailboats bring you closer to nature.

*Sailing is more suited to the adventurous type.

*It’s much much cheaper to run a sailboat engine. A sailboat might cost $15 to fill versus $1500 for a powerboat of the same size.

*You can steer from the stern of a sailboat and talk to everybody. On a powerboat, you’re usually closer to the bow and everyone congregates behind or below you.

*The further you travel, the more cost effective a sailboat becomes.

Sailboats: the CONS

*At equal LOA (length overall), sailboats offer less space inside and out than a powerboat. To get more space, you need a longer boat.

*You get more sunburned on a sailboat

*You need wind to operate a sailboat over any great distance.

*It’s expensive to maintain sails and rigging.

*Sailing is very time consuming. If time is your most precious commodity, you need a lot of it to sail.

*With a deeper draft, you have less access to shallow waters and the beach.

*Sailing is physically demanding.