2020 Fuel, engine hours & nautical miles summary
So what do we have to say about our favourite taboo subject, that no one really wants to discuss, in the year of 2020?
Seems like admitting how much motoring one does is a reason of shame and embarrassment, but our goal for this discussion is not to brag of "how good" sailors we are because we don’t motor or how bad we are because we motor too much. Our goal is to understand engine efficiency and tuning, optimal RPM usage, related costs with fuel purchase and the inevitable engine servicing.
In our opinion, there’s no shame in the number of engine hours and purchased litres of fuel. Let’s be real about it, the engine is there to be used and needs to be used to be kept in good shape.
There are plenty of good reasons to fire up the engine and motor, from bad weather to emergencies or to the simple fact that we are not in the mood for sailing and in a rush to get somewhere, etc.
If we were to be purists about this sailing business, we should simply remove the engine from the yacht. It would save us a lot of money on servicing, spare parts and provide us with a lot more storage capacity.
Having said all the above, we still try and sail as much as possible. Although sometimes we just want to motor and there’s nothing wrong with it!
Because we don’t track the miles done under engine and the miles motor-sailing, neither account for all the times we need to start the engine to drop/lift anchor, etc our study will never be 100% accurate, but we think it still is a good exercise. When analysed in conjunction with the logbook transcriptions, where some of that information is expressed in more detail, it is possible to get a good idea of how much we motor and the reasons why.
To try and keep the data consistent, we track all the purchased fuel for a year run, including the full top-up of the tanks at the end of the year.
The fuel in the emergency jerrycans (100 litres) is only counted when moved into the tanks, the same applies to the fuel kept on the newly installed tank (140 litres), which we now call tank 3 and that is isolated from the yachts original fuel system.
Basically, we start each year at full capacity (2x250 litres in the yacht original diesel tanks) and account for each litre added in these tanks until the end of the year when we do a final top-up.
Recap of the first two seasons aboard The Dream for analysis context:
The 2017 season was the Shakedown Season. We travelled 2424 nautical miles, mostly in the North Atlantic ranging from Portugal (Lisbon) to Gibraltar, the Morocco Atlantic coast and the Madeira Archipelago. Purchased 1132.5 litres of diesel and ran the engine for 202.5 hours.
The 2018 season was the season we entered the West Mediterranean Sea. We sailed from Portugal (Cascais) to the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Corsica and sailed almost to all the Italian islands from Elba to Sicily from where we crossed to Tunisia. This totalled 2406 nautical miles, 298.2 engine hours and 1253 litres of diesel purchased.
The 2019 was the season we sailed in the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas, exploring the great sailing grounds of Greece and Croatia but also discovering the amazing coastline of Albania and Montenegro. This totalled 3046 nautical miles, 450 engine hours and 1345.5 litres of diesel purchased.
The 2020 season was marked by Covid-19 and the restrictions to free movement that rolled throughout the Mediterranean basin.
Until late June we were not allowed to depart from Tunisia, when we were finally allowed to depart all the European maritime borders were still closed, leaving us only with the option of crossing non-stop from Tunisia to Turkey to get out of the pickle we were.
The Dream was still pending repairs from the collision we had suffered 7 months earlier and, we had overstayed our visas for more than 100 days. Without an operating headsail, we had to stick to a window of light winds that allowed us to use our speciality sails as much as possible minimising the chances of getting caught in the middle of a Meltemi (strong northerly winds common in the Aegean), it meant we would use the engine more than we wished.
Once the repairs were concluded a few months after our arrival in Turkey, it was time to depart as our visas were coming to an end.
This time it was the political situation between Greece and Turkey that dictated our options.
Under the excuse of Covid risks, Greece had closed the borders to arrivals from Turkey, Italy and Cyprus imposed expensive quarantines, leaving Malta as the only viable card on the table. The catch 22 with Malta is that they have very restrictive requirements for pet arrivals that meant arriving within 120 hours of the veterinary health certificate is issued in the country of origin. Once again, motoring was on the cards, we needed to keep a certain average speed to get there on time.
These two passages marked the fuel consumption for the year.
We purchased 1,186 litres of diesel and motored a total of 374 hours.