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Old 04-12-2013
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Re: Outboard Advice

A few questions:
How much does your boat weigh?
How long do you plan on (typically) running the engine/motor?
Are you keeping the boat on a trailer, mooring, or slip?
How available is an electrical supply?
Is your boat's transom set up for an engine?
Does the boat's manufacturer specify a maximum engine size/weight?

At 17', I doubt the boat will be TOO heavy, so like Mac said, a trolling motor might work fine. I'm considering that option for my 15'. But then I need power to it. If I can rig up a solar panel, then I'll be fine, because I'd mostly be using the boat on a small lake, won't need to run the motor more than about 20 minutes (max), and waiting several days for the battery to charge won't likely be a big deal. Keep in mind, though, that in addition to the motor, you're looking at buying a battery and a solar panel, too. Not that they are incredibly expensive, but still... If you're not going solar, you need a way of charging the battery aboard the boat, too, otherwise you'll be lugging a very heavy battery home.

I've seen discussions of the propane engines, and they look interesting. I'm just not sure that I want to carry all of those little canisters with me all the time. You'll have to find a way of keeping the canisters safe while you transport/use the boat, too. I'm not sure I like the idea of driving all over the place with the canisters in my trunk, given the conversations we've seen here about propane.

Gas is tried-and-true, but not without its issues, too. Gas engines are heavy and loud, and they seem to have the largest carbon footprint (though there are arugments that electric is bad, too, if you're charging the batteries from a power plant rather than solar). They can also be tempermental, and difficult to start.

Each of the options has its advantages and disadvantages (in predictable fashion, I've focused mostly on the disadvantages). You'll have to figure out which one is right for you.
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