Passagemakerlite with A-frame

A-frame sailing assisted rig by Tad Roberts

This update of the PL46+ (48’6” LOA) carries a 450 square foot auxiliary A-frame sailing rig. Experience has proved that even a limited amount of sail can make a big difference in fuel consumption as well as steadying the boat (with little drag) in a cross wind. The rig consists of a roller furling jib of 235 sq. ft and a boomed mainsail of 215 sq. ft. The A-frame mast is built of aluminum extrusions and is hinged at the deck to easily lower down forward. The lower cross-bar (on which the boom is mounted and jib sheeted to) is removable with 4 fast-pins. The stabilizer poles are on universal mounts and stow along the rail on the boat deck. The entire rig is intended to be raised and lowered by the owner for easy passage through canals or under bridges. Vertical clearance with the mast up is 36’ above waterline, and with it lowered less than 11’6”.

Print Friendly

Types of Motor Yachts

The market of long range motor yachts is very restricted. Recreational power boats or large luxury motor yachts are easy to recognize. But for long range cruisers there is no easily recognized name for this type of boat. Boat builders like myself refer to hem as passagemakers, although they are quite often referred to as “trawlers”. I prefer not to use that term as this is not applicable for all long range cruisers.

To be called a long-range cruiser or passagemaker in motor yacht vocabulary you must be able to, at least, cross the Atlantic Ocean without additional fuel on deck (unless for extra safety margin). Therefore Beneteau Swift Trawlers and similar are not part of my list. Also I don’t include boats over 64 ft as they are in a different class.

There is a boat for every purse and for every taste. I might not like catamaran trawlers but that is my personal view. There is no good or bad boat. I can fully understand that someone else would choose a catamaran and have good reasons behind their decision. The opinions expressed below are my personal views.

This ↑ means high. The more ↑↑↑↑↑, the higher the value.

Big fat GRP Trawlers:

NordhavnKadey KrogenSelene trawler

Based on the fishing trawlers, they are designed to have a high load carrying capacity. This is not really something you need when you travel as a couple (unless your wife has an extensive shoe collection.) The high capacity requires big engines which in turn have high fuel consumption. In the smaller sized motor yachts (up to 50 ft) there is a space constraint which allows for only one main engine. A small “wing’ engine can be installed as a back up. Their speed is also restricted due to their heavy water displacement. For this type of motor yacht you need a lot of money to buy them and a lot of money to pay the fuel.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑
  • Comfort:↑↑↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑↑

Steel Trawlers

Blue water trawlersPrivateer yachtsFlevo trawlers.

Very popular in the Netherlands these steel trawlers are real little ships. Obviously due to their weight they have a very high fuel consumption.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑
  • Comfort:↑↑↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑↑

Catamaran Trawlers:

Robertson and CaineDeanCruisercats

In recent trends, these have become the most popular motor yachts. Power Catamaran Trawlers offer lots of space. They have multiple cabins with symmetrical lay-out (important when chartering). They do not need big engines but always have two engines. They have a high initial stability but I consider them too dangerous for heavy weather cruising. A big advantage of power cruising in a motor yacht is the reliability of distance and speed. Every year several Robertson and Caine catamarans leave Cape Town for the Caribbean and Cape Town is not exactly know for calm waters. I believe they make some in France too.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑↑
  • Comfort:↑↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑

Trimaran Power Boats 

Please let me know if you know one smaller than 64ft. These are extreme powerboats, very narrow, fuel efficient and fast. Unfortunately they are very, very narrow, so your accommodation is very restricted, while their beam overall is impressive so is the marina fee.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑↑↑
  • Comfort:↑
  • Safety:↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑↑



Based on the salmon trollers (not to be confused with trawlers) these motor yacht designs are more fuel effective than the trawlers, but this means slightly less inside volume. They are mostly equipped with only one engine and an emergency sail.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑↑↑
  • Comfort:↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑

Long and narrow designs

Passagemakerlitelong-cours 62Focus

These motor yachts are designed around fuel efficiency and therefore mostly offer the longest range and best fuel efficiency, with twin engines. Most of these are custom build thus can accommodate different budgets.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑↑↑
  • Comfort:↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑↑↑
  • Price:↑↑



Another possibility is to go as small as possible. You save fuel on size and weight but you are restricted in speed by your waterline length.

  • Fuel efficiency: ↑↑↑↑
  • Comfort:↑
  • Safety:↑
  • Price:↑

Expedition long distance cruisers


I made a separate category for these motor yachts as they do not have a specific common denominator except their price. These are definitely boats I dream of but are way outside the budget of average people like me. I cannot comment on their fuel efficiency due to the difference between the models.

  • Comfort:↑↑↑↑
  • Safety:↑↑↑↑
  • Price:↑↑↑↑

 Refitted fishing vessels.

M/V Lifeline

Due to the many different motor yacht designs, difficult to comment.

Print Friendly

Motor Yacht Safety for Long Range Cruising

It is perfectly normal to assume that a sailing yacht would be safer than a motor yacht. Yet is not always the case.

Personal experience as a volunteer in the South African National Sea Rescue Institute is that a large number of our rescues are for sailing yachts and almost 80% of these are fuel related. My theory about this is that sailors assume that their engines is only auxiliary. Since they do not use their engine often, the fuel becomes dirty and condensation adds water to the fuel tank. Their fuel filters are less regularly changed and their fuel remains much longer in the tanks.

Are sailing yachts really better than motor yachts

Motor yachts have no worries about chafing or torn sails, worn out blocks, metal fatigue in standing rigging and mast, they have only one item to take care of: their engine and its fuel distribution.

I followed the whole circumnavigation voyage of motor yacht Idlewild equipped with one 55hp Nanni Diesel. They had only one minor mechanical issue when leaving Cape Town. Now if you follow any sailing circumnavigation you will not have enough fingers to count all the technical problems occurring during such a voyage.Idlewind motor yacht

The question is: Do you install one or two engines on a motor yacht? Naturally cost is a consideration in this regard. Personally I believe that if you are very careful with your fuel, using a polishing system, a day tank, double fuel hoses etc. you should not have any problem with your engine. Therefore you should be able to operate your motor yacht on just one engine.

The advantage of two engines is that you have time to give the proper maintenance on one while the other is running. Also you can run one as a generator while the other is running as a propulsion. It is definitely easier to maneuver with two engines and of course if you do run into trouble, you have the second engine as a back up.

Print Friendly

History of Motor Yachts in Long Range Cruising

Traditionally long range voyages were undertaken by sail craft. Yet there will always be some adventurers willing to try something new. Why not use a motor yacht for an Atlantic crossing?

Marin-Marie Atlantic crossing in 19 days on motor yacht Arielle

Marin-Marie Atlantic crossing in 19 days on Arielle under diesel power

The first Atlantic crossing in a small motor yacht was completed in 1912 by Thomas Day. The events of the crossing are recorded in The Voyage of Detroit. Then in 1936 Marin-Marie cruised from New York to Le Havre in 19 days aboard the motor yacht Arielle. Other adventurers include Eileco Kazemier traveled around the world in 198 days on Bylgia II.

Not many people will follow in their footsteps. But as boat building technlogy has developed more people are choosing motor yachts to cross the Atlantic or go on long range cruises. Some choose to do it in group while others rather do it alone.

One of the main advantages of cruising under power is that you can go from A to B in a straight line and at a known speed. Thanks to modern weather forecasting this makes it a lot safer than sailing as you can plan exactly for your weather window. Add to that the fact that most of the handling can be done from the inside and you have a pretty safe method of transport.

And interesting book to read on the subject of long range cruising and motor yachts is Voyaging under Power by Robert Beebe.

Print Friendly

Choosing a motor yacht – a female perspective

My husband has given some of his reasons and backgrounds why he choose to go for this design of the Passagemaker Lite. I feel I’d like to share my reasons and background too. After all, this is not an average yacht that you can find on Yachtworld or any boating site.

By writing this article, it makes me more conscious again why we decided to go for this motor yacht. Am still a keen sailor, but if you combine it with living on board a yacht fulltime, there are some other wishes that are more important.

Living with a 2 year old on a boat, makes you as well aware of certain safety aspects. But believe me, when we started building, I had no idea we would be blessed with a child.

Because the plan was to live on the motor yacht and later go cruising, I had a list of things I found important. Firstly, the living spaces shouldn’t feel dark and small. We both always wanted a good pilothouse and a separate shower from the toilet. Of course, the bed needed to be large enough to have a good night’s sleep. Since we like to entertain friends, we needed a salon and galley that would enable us to enjoy a social gathering. We like to cook and still be part of the action.

The motor yacht’s sailing capacities are of course very important while travelling, so we will take measures to stabilise and control the rolling. I have skippered on fast motor yachts and rubber ducks, but these don’t have the range we wanted. If you go slow with them, the journey becomes quite uncomfortable. We expect with the specific structure on the bow, that she will stay quite dry and not dig her bow too deep into the waves.

So far she meets my expectations; I love sitting in the pilothouse and have my morning coffee, or snuggle in the salon. Can’t wait for the day that we can take her out!




Print Friendly

Passagemakers and charities

I found that there is a growing number of sailors who want to make their small contribution in helping disadvantage people on this planet. A passagemaker allow them to go further and deeper up esturies, to places that are not necessarily reachable by land while at the same time being able to transport a whole operation room or dentist cabinet.

These are mostly individual, or small non-profit without the huge logistic back up of big NGO’s they just sail around and help people. I pay tribute to these unknown heroes and mention here just a few of them:

Dr Dufour on Domino,  Floating doctors, Woman on waves, Sailing doctors, on the lake clinic, floating clinic in India, International Rescue group  and many more, well done to all of you.

Print Friendly

Sailors versus motor yacht boaters

Already I hate this title. We are all water lovers. I started sailing at the age of 11 on Opies (like most of us) Sailed on a Twister 28 until I joined the merchant marine at the age of 19. Had my first riveted steel yawl at the age of 28 and moved on board a Trisbal 42 sailing yacht. I just love boats, all kinds, sailing yachts can be beautiful and some can be really ugly and so can motor yachts.

There are beautiful schooners and they are beautiful tug boats. Do I prefer the one or the other? I have no answer I am sure they are many bilkers who also enjoy cycling. Why do you have to chose? Get there with a motor yacht and lower your sailing dinghy sounds like a good compromise to me. I remember too many sailing holidays with the engine on most of the time due to restricted holiday period. (It was always too short and you always want to go too far in the wrong direction).

Being on a sailing yacht with the wind in your hair is a marvelous feeling but we tend to forget the long days in the doldrums waiting for the wind and the fighting against the wind direction, helming outside in the rain. But the opposite is also true watching a beautiful sailing yacht under sail from the pilot house of a motor yacht can be frustrating.

So lets forget about this sailors versus motor yachts thing. We all love the sea, we all love beautiful boats. Let’s go out and enjoy the water.

Of course jetskis fanatics are excluded as I do not even consider them humans :-)

Print Friendly