Greetings, I have purchased two of your books, with CDs, and they are excellent. I refer to them regularly to solve specific problems and for general learning (random open and read).

One area I want more information on, and cannot find in either of the books (Surviving and Offshore) is motorsailing. In addition to your two books, I have done quite a bit of research on the web, looked for magazine articles (current and archive), etc., and still cannot find any information. All I can find is the occasional reference to motorsailing in some trip logs.

I am interested in the theory and practice of motorsailing, and the pros and cons, cautions (re: sails, motor) etc. Can you provide this information and/or refer me to a qualified source of information on this.

By the way, another item I couldn’t find in your books was on the matter of what gear/or neutral to leave the engine in when sailing (I recently switch from a folding to three-blade fixed prop). Thanks, Howard

Hi Howard: Regarding motorsailing, there is a chapter in Surviving the Storm on it as a storm tactic, and our new book, Practical Seamanship (due out next spring) also has a chapter on the subject.

The question of fixing the prop or letting it free wheel has been debated for years. There are two aspects.

First the gearbox. If the box is lubricated with an oil bath (all mechanical trannys) it can free wheel. For hydraulic boxes it depends on the design. Some, like the old Borg Warners, are OK as long as the engine is started every hour or so to push some hydraulic oil through the system. However, the best bet is to check with the trannt supplier.

The other issue is drag. There are arguments on both sides. We come down on the side of feeling a fixed prop is less drag than one which rotates. This is a well established fact with power planes, and I don’t see why the same would not apply to boats. Regards–Steve Dashew

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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