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Motorsailers, the remarkable hybrid vessels that seamlessly blend sail and power capabilities, offer a world of possibilities for boating enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into the reliability of motorsailer engines, their shorter draft design, the factors that impact their sailing performance, and the considerations regarding maintenance and upkeep. Additionally, we will highlight the benefits of motorsailers for long-distance cruising, particularly in coastal ocean areas.

Nauticat motorsailer on the coastal ocean
Courtesy of Nauticat

Motorsailer Engine Reliability

One of the key advantages of motorsailers lies in the reliability of their engines. Traditional sailboats rely solely, more or less, on sails for propulsion. Motorsailers feature robust and efficient engines that provide reliable power when sailing conditions are unfavorable or when precise maneuvering is required. Motorsailers typically have larger engines and horsepower, similar to what you might see in a powerboat. 

This combination of sail and power allows motorsailers to navigate safely through calms, currents, or challenging passages. The engines in motorsailers are purposefully designed to be dependable. They often incorporate marine-grade components and systems that are built to withstand the demands of extended voyages and long-distance cruising.

Motorsailers Small Draft

Motorsailers stand out due to their smaller draft design. This enables access to shallow and remote areas that are off-limits to many other boats. This design feature allows motorsailers to explore coastal regions, including idyllic coves, hidden bays, and secluded islands that are rich in natural beauty.

By drawing less water, motorsailers can venture into shallow anchorages and navigate close to shorelines, enhancing the freedom and flexibility of coastal exploration.

Nordhavn 56MS Motorsailer pilothouse interior view
Courtesy of Nordhavn

Motorsailer Sailing Performance

it’s important to acknowledge that motorsailers may not match the pure sailing capabilities and performance of dedicated sailboats. Several factors contribute to this distinction. Firstly, motorsailers tend to have heavier displacement due to their robust construction, which can impact their upwind performance and overall speed under sail. The weight and design of motorsailers are optimized for the combined sail and power capabilities. This results in a compromise compared to specialized sailing vessels.

Two Fisher Motorsailers with sails up
Courtesy of Fisher Owners Association

The sail area and rigging of motorsailers are typically designed to complement the vessel’s power characteristics, rather than being purely optimized for sailing performance. While motorsailers can still sail effectively and harness the wind efficiently, they may not provide the same level of speed or agility as dedicated sailboats. This consideration is essential for those seeking competitive racing or the adrenaline rush of high-speed sailing.

Motorsailer Means Double the Maintenance?

Additionally, the dual nature of motorsailers—incorporating both sail and power systems—implies double the maintenance and upkeep compared to single-purpose boats. Motorsailers require periodic maintenance and servicing of their engines, propulsion systems, and rigging. The presence of two distinct systems adds complexity to routine checks. Although, this can be mitigated through regular inspections, maintenance schedules, and partnering with experienced marine professionals.

Motorsailers and Long-Distance Cruising

Motorsailers are particularly well-suited for long-distance cruising in coastal ocean areas. Their versatile nature allows sailors to enjoy extended voyages with the efficiency and eco-friendliness of sailing. When favorable winds prevail, motorsailers can hoist their sails and harness the power of nature. This reduces fuel consumption and provides a serene and eco-conscious experience.

This is especially advantageous in coastal ocean areas, where reliable winds are often available for extended periods. In the absence of favorable sailing conditions, the reliable engines of motorsailers ensure that progress can be made. Thus enabling the vessel to reach its destination safely and efficiently.

Top Motorsailers on the Market:


Nordhavn is a renowned brand known for its exceptional motorsailers and trawler yachts. They offer a range of motorsailers that combine the best features of sail and power, providing comfortable and reliable vessels for long-distance cruising. Nordhavn motorsailers are built with robust construction, luxurious interiors, and efficient power systems. This makes Nordhavn a popular choice among boating enthusiasts who value both sail and power capabilities.

Nordhanv 56MS Motorsailer with sails up
Courtesy of Nordhavn


Nauticat motorsailers are a pinnacle of elegance, craftsmanship, and performance. With a rich heritage and meticulous attention to detail, these Finnish-built vessels showcase the perfect marriage of traditional aesthetics and modern technology.

Nauticat motorsailers excel in both sailing and power capabilities. Nauticat motorsailers offer exhilarating sailing experiences and reliable engines for when the winds are calm or maneuvering is required. The spacious and luxurious interiors provide a comfortable living space for extended voyages, while customizable options allow owners to create a personalized onboard sanctuary. With a commitment to excellence and a legacy of quality, Nauticat motorsailers continue to captivate sailors with their timeless beauty and exceptional seafaring abilities.

Nauticat 331 motorsailer with sails up on the coastal ocean
Courtesy of Nauticat


Fisher motorsailers embody the spirit of adventure and ruggedness. They are designed to conquer both the open sea and challenging coastal waters. Renowned for their distinctive pilothouse design and robust construction, Fisher motorsailers have become synonymous with strength and reliability. Built with seafaring capabilities in mind, these vessels are well-suited for long-distance cruising and offshore passages.

With their raised pilothouse providing excellent visibility and shelter, Fisher motorsailers allow for comfortable and confident navigation in various weather conditions. The spacious and practical interiors offer a cozy and functional living space, catering to the needs of adventurous sailors who appreciate a blend of power and sail. Whether navigating remote coastlines or embarking on extended voyages, Fisher motorsailers are a trusted companion, ready to withstand the elements and provide unforgettable seafaring experiences.

Fisher 34 motorsailer with sails up and wake on the bow
Courtesy of Classic Boat Magazine


Motorsailers offer a unique and versatile boating experience, combining the advantages of both sail and power systems. Their reliable engines, shorter draft design, and versatility make them ideal for long-distance cruising, particularly in coastal ocean areas. While their sailing performance may not match that of dedicated sailboats, motorsailers compensate with their ability to access shallow areas and their efficient utilization of wind power. By understanding the distinct characteristics and considerations of motorsailers, boating enthusiasts can embrace the best of both worlds and embark on unforgettable adventures on the water.