I was out again this weekend doing my regular exercise program. It was very hot and the water was very flat with winds 3-6mph thru most of the day (pretty typical for around here especially thru the summer). I looked out onto the bay and there were only 3 sailboats out on the entire bay as far as my eyes could see, all the rest were powerboats (hundreds). The outside temp was around 90f (about max around here) and the sea temp is around 84. This is pretty typical around here for about 7-8 months out of the year.
I believe there are more than a few dozen TI's/AI's in this area but I didn't see a single one out this weekend (besides me). I always launch right next to the Sarasota Sailing squadron where there has to be 300-400 sail boats stored (maybe even more). I commented to one of my friends who has his H16 out pretty much every weekend, who was just coming in when I arrived, on how people can own all this stuff and pay like a thousand bucks a year to store at the yacht club, in addition I'm sure many of the sail boats stored there I could buy 10 or 20 TI's for what they cost, yet the vast majority appear to be never used. I said I didn't understand how people can buy stuff then never use it, anything I have I'm going to use the heck out of and get my moneys worth, he kind of laughed and agreed.
I store my boat completely rigged on the trailer in my garage and it takes me all of five minutes to put the hitch in and connect it to the car. Once I'm backed to the water it takes me 15 minutes to unload the and rig the boat. Here is a video of me unloading and rigging on a typical day.
It takes no longer with the second motor to rig, and the planing hull mod on the back of the boat is permanently mounted and never leaves the boat so it's totally maintenance free.
While out doing my exercise routine I was reflecting on all my mods and how well everything has worked out for me, as well as what I would do differently if I had to do anything again.
Currently with the twin motors running at 1/4 throttle (with the throttles locked) in the low typical winds around here my typical sailing speed averages between 8 and 9 mph and I get around 2-3 hrs run time per tank of fuel (each tank is 1 liter x 2 tanks). According to my GPS my max speed was 10.5mph but have no idea when that occurred (possibly riding the surf in just outside of big pass).
What I really like about my setup is I always have a nice breeze blowing on me to keep me cool along with an occasional splash on me as I crash over powerboat wakes. I measured my fuel usage when I got home and used exactly 1/3 of a tank of fuel from each motor, in all I traveled 10 miles as measured on my GPS for the day ( a short day). The original plan was for me and wife to go scuba dive offshore at point of rocks (about 10 miles south of where we launch) but it was a little to hot and sunny for her so she bailed on me, since I can't dive alone, there went that plan... We ended up spending the afternoon in the pool.
I'm pretty sure all the sailing purists hate me very much, and have fun talking about me. We tried to join the Sailing squadron a couple years ago, but many of the people there were downright mean to us, and my wife wants nothing to do with them.
I don't think of my boat as a sailboat, I consider it to be a hybrid pedal boat that I can take out even in the lightest of conditions (pretty typical around here) and still get somewhere and have a nice time without having to sit in irons and bake in the sun. If the winds ever picks up to where I can actually sail I'll raise and park the motors and sail when I can. In my opinion this is the best of all worlds. And best of all if I'm threatened by a sudden storm with lightning (which occurs pretty much every afternoon in the summer here) I can always high tale it home at pretty high speeds if I need to. If any one has been caught 5-10 (or more) miles from launch when something bad happens they know where I'm coming from. Trying to get back to Key West Island from the south when the wind is coming at you from the north at 25 mph is about as scary as it gets fighting 4-6 ft waves and the lightning flashing all around you. Next stop Cuba.
I still have my giant spinnaker and use it once in a while (mostly down in Key West where we have nice steady trade winds). But don't use it much up here in Sarasota because my current configuration is faster than the typical wind we get here and the spinnaker can never be deployed (you can't sail faster than the wind with a spinnaker), so I typically just leave it in the garage.
My original plan (cash in hand) when I bought my TI was to buy a brand new H16, I went to the Hobie dealer and he convinced me to buy the TI instead (which was brand new back in April 2010). I have also looked at the Windrider 17 and the WETA, all very nice boats in my opinion. Of course I also looked at the F18's and Wildcats but feel they are so far above my budget as well as extremely technical, they were out of my reach.
As far as bang for the buck goes I feel I have the most bang for the buck over pretty much anything out there, where my mod'ed TI is faster and more versatile than anything I have seen out there on the market (in light winds of course). My total investment to date is around $8500 bucks (including the boat, trailer, and motor costs, and all my home made sails, rigging and stuff). I think the Windrider 17 is a little over $10k (W/O trailer) and the WETA I think is around $14k, and we all know what a new H16 costs.
Sure it took me a few weekends to make some of the stuff, but that's all part of the hobby for me. Everything I have made was made in my garage with a hack saw and cordless drill, though I worked in tool shops all my life, I no longer have access to any of that stuff.
In conclusion if I had a do over button would I do anything different ???
1: The modified planing tail on the boat cost me over $250 buck to make and a great deal of work, was it worth the effort. NOT REALLY, pretty much a waste of time, I'll continue to use it, but it's not one of those things that's a night and day difference.
2: Adding the second motor, sure it gives me 2-3 mph higher average speed, and a way higher WOT max speed, but the single motor worked just fine and I was able to average 6 to 6.5 mph average speed with just the single (the single engine at WOT with no sails out propels the boat to 8-9 mph on flat water, which is sufficient to get you out of most trouble). I probably wouldn't do it again if I had a reset button. I'm not about to remove it, and I'll continue to use it, but that extra thousand bucks for the second motor, I'm not sure was wise.
3: On my Wing jib if I had realized going in that it works no differently from a real airplane wing (totally different principles from standard sails), where you have to have a certain minimum forward motion in order for it to operate at all (thus the reason for the motors). I would not have made it. If you don't have at least 6-7 mph of wind passing over the wing it does absolutely nothing whatsoever besides being a terrific wind vane (the wing jib is free standing and rotates 360 degrees freely as it follows the wind (just like a weathervane).
Hopefully some of these insights will help others make better decisions as what to do with their boats, and if it's worth the effort to even proceed on self mods. I'm perfectly happy with my total package, if I were to remove some components would I be as happy, it's really hard to decide.