Gas vs. Diesel (are we crazy)?
Sailors of the past were not encumbered by the social, employment and family responsibilities that are faced by todayís casual sailor. Our modern lives require that we not rely only on something as fickle as the wind for our transportation.
Itís for these reasons that I feel a motor is no longer just a luxury aboard a modern cruising sailboat. But with all of the choices of inboard, outboard, 2 or 4 stroke, gas or diesel, an unlimited horsepower range and choice of manufacturers, which is the best way to go? Every aspect of sailing has its compromises.
Thereís no doubt that Iím a big advocate of outboard motors generally on anything under 30-feet. On the smaller cruiser, the greater premium placed on cabin space coincides with the abilities of an outboard to efficiently do its job. There are others who set the bar a bit lower, but for my experience with the current state-of-the-art outboards and an emphasis on sailing my sailboat, I still stand by that figure.
For the size range that youíre looking at and prospective cruising style, I would think an outboard motor would be more of an asset to you then an inboard. I would suggest if you buy a boat with a used outboard, that you take the motor to a place where you can comfortably take some time to do some maintenance on it.
Get a Seloc or Clymer shop manual for reference. Replace the pull cord, spark plugs and fuel filter. Change the water pump and lower unit oil. Make sure all of the electrical connections are secure. Give it a complete lubrication and find and fix any minor problems you may find.
Itís a lot easier to work on a motor on a stand, in a cellar or garage workshop instead of the cramped quarters of a small craftís bilge! Not only will this get your motor in top shape; it will give you the experience and confidence you may need to quickly address a problem, should one arise in a seaway!
Good luck! Let us all know what boat you decide on.