Thanks for the advice. I've been looking around and talking to other boat owners in the area, and have just about decided that I'll go with Yamaha. For the same reasons mentioned - a reliable product with good dealer support.
So now the decisions (besides when).
8HP vs 9.9? The 9.9 is only a few pounds heavier and $300 more expensive. So if either one would easily keep the boat at hull speed (if necessary), I'm wondering what the extra power would do for me. Less strain on the engine (longer life)? 20% more engine displacement, would that mean 20% higher fuel consumption?
20" vs. 25" shaft? I'll need to replace my motor mount either way, so which one would you choose? My logic leads me towards the 25", in that the power head and tilt handle would be more accessible. What would be the downside?
Thanks again for the great advice!