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Old 03-24-2011
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Once known as Hartley18
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Originally Posted by Richman7777 View Post
I'm wondering if those folks have ever heard of modern 4 stroke outboards that as reliable as any diesel, and probably more reliable than most? In terms of "school of thought" it's a little meaningless compared to the facts. 4 stroke outboards run for decades with very little care. Mine starts on the first or second pull even after setting all winter. It was made in the 80's... and it's a Honda, not a Yanmar. Runs like new... and that's no school of thought, just how it is. Oh, speaking of dead weight: my outboard weighs around 75 pounds compared to 175 for a small Yanmar and that doesn't include the transmission and shaft, prop etc.. And mine, again, is inside the cockpit exactly where you want it. ;-)
Hi Richman, if you haven't guessed already it has little to do with engine reliability per se (although a wet petrol engine can be fun to start - ask any fisho) and more to do with weight distribution and the way the outboard leg (even a long shaft) comes completely out of the water on every second wave. This doesn't tend to do the prop, engine or the skipper's nerves any good and the boat doesn't go forwards if the prop isn't in the water.

I still have vivid memories of fighting to windward in 35kt winds and a 4' steep chop in our old boat, going forward in the troughs and backward on the crests and the motor poor motor screaming it's heart out on the stern and I would not want to wish that experience on anyone. (BTW, the outboard in question was a 1983 Johnson 7.5hp 2-stroke that never failed to start in it's life, but I know plenty of people who don't have an engine as good as that).

I don't think anyone has any issue with an outboard in the cockpit, except that it gets in the way - but that wasn't what we were commenting on.

Happy ocean sailing!
"Honestly, I don't know why seamen persist in getting wrecked in some of the outlandish places they do, when they can do it in a nice place like Fiji." -- John Caldwell, "Desperate Voyage"

Last edited by Classic30; 03-24-2011 at 02:30 AM.
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Old 03-24-2011
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Hi Hartley,

I understand the weight distribution issue, cavatation issues etc. and have seen many smaller sailboats with motors on the back doing exactly that. However, as I said once before: exactly zero people who are crossing oceans in sailboats are using any motor for anything but entering and leaving port. As for the weight distribution argument: I think they are thinking too hard. Having 40 pounds back there (often kept on the rail when not in use) will affect performance less than having a 5 year old in the cockpit with them. Case in point: A good friend of mine has a San Juan 24' that he races. He has a motor on the back... just about never loses a race - and they race in all conditions, even in the Straight of Juan de Fuca which is basically open ocean - just ask the many large ships at the bottom. Yes, he races against inboards too. Often a full fuel tank weighs more than many small outboards. Cavatation: I'm not saying it's impossible for mine to cavatate, but I haven't been able to make it happen in some pretty aggressive conditions. The downside of my setup is that the motor is in the water all the time producing drag - though a minimal amount. I suppose I could rig something to pull it up once underway but then it really would be in the way. I'm a little too lazy to move it that much anyway. As it is it sets mostly unnoticed under the tiller. As a side-bar: have you noticed that Pacific Seacraft (and many others) who equip their boats with a diesel inboard also put an outboard bracket on the back and on the rail? Smart fellows. ;-)

Of course, as with anything there is a trade-off and any motor can and will break down if not properly maintained. If you have an inboard you never have to worry about it getting wet; although it would be pretty tough for mine to get wet - but it does take up a little potential foot space in the cockpit as you pointed out. It's all electronic ignition anyway and a little water wouldn't be a big deal like on older motors. But the large hole in the cockpit also makes for a pretty big self-bailing port. In literature I have read apparently it was one consideration for an off-shore offering. But space is space and every inboard takes more of it and weighs about triple of a heavier outboard. Maintenance of inboards is considerably more expensive than an outboard as well, especially if you have to pull and replace it.

So, what's the score-card look like? Propulsion - equal. Reliability - equal. Cost - not equal. Convenience - not equal. ;-)

Sailed yesterday... absolutely beautiful!
Take care,
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