First time post here and hope I don't put my foot in it too much - or upset too many people, but I've read all the posts here and feel the need to add some more fuel to the fire.
I've been a fisherman most of my life, both commercial and in the charter industry, and have run boats in almost all the oceans of the world. As a person who has spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on fuel, believe me when I say it hurts to pay the fuel bill every year like some of us do. Worse still, we do so in the knowledge that we are doing the "wrong" thing too.
I became enamoured with Richard Postma's Tara Vana
many years ago and always hankered to go and fish it. Whether you have an engine or not, a vessel will always raise fish for the simple fact that most apex predators are curious and will come to look at a strange object in their realm, particularly if they think it might be a whale or other large object that harbours bait. This is the essence of attraction. The capture ratio of each individual boat will then reflect how long it keeps the predator in the region and whether it triggers a bite. A vessel that creates the right "footprint" will be a good boat to fish from, and it is broadly accepted among sportfishermen that a boat with an irregular aura is less attractive than one with a smooth signature. In this respect, a motorised vessel with a deep wooden hull and a slow revving engine is held in high regard - likewise a sailing boat with no engine noise but a purposeful wake with regular hull noise and motion will also attract and hold fish.
So, the answer to whether a sailing boat will catch fish like a motorised boat is inconsequential. Indeed, to catch a fish you have to run it over, and you can do that in either type of boat. Sometimes a fish on the surface will shy away from the sound of a motor, othertimes it will not matter what boat goes where - the fish will be feeding with abandon and everyone will catch.
The arguments over hull configuration take a bit more thinking. I have owned and fished both monos and cats, and in essence my impressions today of their differences are as follows :
- if you are going from A to B and not trolling or anchoring, then a catamaran is a far superior beast in almost every respect
- if you are trolling, then a catamaran between 18 and 30 feet in length can exhibit its one vice - the head sea bang. There is no getting away from the fact that a small to medium size cat will be uncomfortable going head on into a sea at trolling speeds. Cats above these lengths can gain considerable advantage in waterline length and the height of the wingdeck above sea level, and at such sizes can become much more comfortable to fish from. Of course, hull design lends a helping hand here and there are good cats and bad cats in this size range, not all of which exhibit the other characteristics which a skipper may want from their vessel. Access to machinery for service is my main priority, and it is unfortunate that many larger catamarans do not offer this characterisitic. That's my main bug bear.
But, to get back to a motor-sailing cat..... it has been a dream of mine for several years to design and build a small trailerable boat for the weekend warriors. Something capable of getting to the grounds with a single outboard, and then fishing under sail with a computer and some servos keeping the vessel at the required speed. This will entail a sharp learning curve for most fishermen and a change in tackle and attitude. But I think it can be done, as long as they're going to accept the fact that sailing is wet work and that a rope burn or the odd bodily blow to the head or other extremity is the norm, not the exception. Indeed, it is possible that some fishermen may take to the sailing aspect so well that fishing becomes less important, and vice-versa. The main problem to be overcome in the size vessel I have in mind will be one of security in the cockpit (fishermen like their gunwales) and security overall (wind versus multi-hull). Another option might be a tri-maran with telescopic hulls like the Windrider - we'd just need to work on the deck space...
Of course, a hydro-foil boat may well offer the speeds to get to and from the grounds in certain conditions too.......
However, it's my gut instinct that a motor-sailing cat will not be the market leader in a world dominated by cash and oil. It's a lovely thought, and I'd be one to sign up for the campaign, but it won't happen. As others here have said, those with the money to buy the right boats and the fuel for them do not have the time or the inclination to wander the oceans, sipping cocktails as the shrouds creak. The Tara Vana
is a boat designed to do that, and she does it in surroundings conducive to that atmosphere, with decidedly Pacific panache. I can't see it happening in the Mid Atlantic tournament out of Cape May (for example) with 200 - 300 boats leaving port at the same time, running 60 miles to the edge, and then running home again to weigh-in. Alas. It might happen in some parts of the world where wind is common and fish are close - the Cape Verdes, for example, or the Caribbean Islands or the Bahamas, and there may well be some people who will design and use a boat for the expedition fishing scene. But........
Much more common I think will be the ascendance of catamarans in general. As designs have improved and as the blinkered sportfishing world learns yearly, there are many great variations of cat design out there, and as oil prices soar I think we will see a real boom in the long thin displacement hulls so beloved by Crowther and Tennant, as are commonly seen down in the Pacific. As people start to realise the advantages these hulls give a catamaran then I think the trend for the wide-bodied planing and semi-planing hulls so common today in the US catamaran market will slow. This is the area I think we will see most improvements in, to the stage where people will buy boats that can give a distinct edge in economy while still offering competitive mid-20 knot cruise speeds. A vessel that offers all of the regular advantages of a catamaran such as stability, space and sea-worthiness and also combines that with a cruising range in excess of 600 miles at a decent speed and a fortnightly fuel fill at her fishing destination will become king.
We're almost halfway there already. If Dick Vermeulen's 47 foot craft up in Buzzards Bay (Maine) turns out the way the numbers are crunching, then we may have the first of a new breed coming down the line. Numbers ? How about 22,800 lbs of boat floating along at 21 knots for a range of 685 miles ? Or a displacement range of over 4000 miles at 8 knots ? Top speed of 24.5 knots for over 500 miles ?
What's more remarkable is that this vessel is powered with just a pair of 160hp common-rail diesels and only has a fuel capacity of 400 gallons. If I was still a charter operator I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Just think, in some places where the edge is just a mile from port, you'd fill up once a month !
My apologies for the long post. I'm not a boat designer, but I've sure fished a lot of different vessels, and although unqualified I hope you didn't get bored.