There are those cruisers / sailors that rarely use their engine. Sometimes this is because they don't like or want to - purists. Others, it's because they have limited fuel. There are those that don't even have engines. Not an option for us. Must have a good strong engine was high on our priority list when picking a boat. It's a vital tool for us. We use the tools we have.
I have read many a cruising blog where after a year of cruising the blogger states with shock how much they motored. Not me. I knew we would motor a lot. While we keep track of engine hours, motoring and sail sets in our log, it's not something we are hung up on. Yes, we
like to sail. It's wonderful to shut off the noise of the engine and move along under sail power alone.
However, move along is an important factor. While we are not on a schedule, there are things we are purists about such as never coming into a new or unfamiliar harbor at night. Never! The same is true for one we have been into but that is challenging. For the most part, we don't enter into anywhere at night. If we are out sailing at night, it's several miles off shore on passage to another island. This is very different than our previous lake sailing where we sailed nearly everywhere. Sailing up the long arm of the lake to the yacht club meant 5 hours tacking back. Oh well. Night sail until midnight and then back to the slip, fun stuff.
Another factor is getting a good anchoring spot or mooring ball. Some anchorages are small with limited good holding spots. You don't want to dilly- dally around getting to these anchorages. Thus if the wind drops off, we might fire up the engine to help us get there and get a mooring ball vs sailing along at 3 knots and arriving late to find no mooring balls and screaming winds in the anchorage meaning anchor watch all night or possibly dragging anchor.
We motor sailed yesterday to get to our new location. Big deal. We arrived safely to a new to us, upwind ie challenging to sail to destination in plenty time to find our way in to this new harbor, get anchored and straighten the boat out from sailing mode back into anchor mode. We actually attempted to get here the day before but we discovered that we didn't set out early enough. The upwind beat was tougher than we anticipated - tacking back and forth and even using motor sailing from our location was not going to work against the wind, waves and current....making 2 knots, it would take us hours and hours and we would arrive after dark. Plan B - crack off, sail to The Saints and try again tomorrow - earlier and at a better angle.
This morning we left at 6:35 AM. We motor sailed tight on the wind to clear a certain point of land on Guadeloupe to arrive mid-day into our new anchorage. An anchorage with a challenging seabed - meaning it took us three attempts to get set and even then we have been on cautious anchor watch throughout the afternoon to be sure we are really set and don't drag.
While cruising for us is about the journey - the exploration, the unexpected discoveries, and adventure vs the destination......we still need to get places and thus sometimes we sail and sometimes we motor.