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post #18 of Old 07-11-2010
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I am not a huge fan of electric motors, but a 17' Siren in our marina has been slippig in and out of the harbour this season with a Minn Kota trolling motor on the transom, and I was looking for a new propulsion system for our small dinghy, so I decided to try electric, for a couple of reasons:
1. Our dinghy is LIGHT. TOO light. ie, tippy. In fact, too tippy to safely load into from the dock, as our dock is 3 feet above the floor of the dinghy. So I figured the added ballast of a group 27 battery would help, and I liked the fact that the battery ballast was movable to make allowances for payload.
2. Ergonomically, our boat was too small to start our 2 stroke OB. The pull was too long, and you ran out of boat before you ran out of rope. When you did get the OB started, with no neutral, you better make sure you are pointed in the right direction.

So, this wekend we strapped a Minn Kota 24 lb. thrust trolling motor on the transom, and SWMBO took it for a test drive. The results were mixed.
When it ran, it ran well, and powered the dinghy along respectably.... BUT, our marina has a big issue with weeds... and so does our trolling motor. On the shakedown cruise, my wife repeatedly had to clear the prop, as it simply did not have enough "oomph" to get rid of the wad of weeds that it collected. Maybe a "weedless" prop will help. We plan to install one next weekend.

On the upside, , SWMBO did like the quiet, the fact that the motor had a reverse, and the added stability provided by the group 27 ballast. I like the light weight of the motor and the fact that we don't have to carry an additional tank of fuel. The downside is that that ballast also cut into available legroom, which reduces the usability of the boat as a 2 person conveyance.

The verdict? The jury is still out. With a little dinghy frame redesign work, we might be able to make the battery stow a little better, and with a new prop weeds may not be an issue. I'll report back with an update next week.
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