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Old 10-01-2002
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Outboard vs. Inboard

Moving to Ft. Myers next year and plan on sailing one way or another. Plan on sailing West Coast of Florida, the Keys, out to the Torgugas, and maybe Bahamas. Live in Pittsburgh now and mostly sail on inland lakes and sometimes charter 25'' Keelboats w'' outboards on Lake Erie, never far from Presque Isle Bay. Have yet to hit heavy weather while sailing. I''ve been looking at MANY models, sizes, drafts, beams, displacments, etc, etc. My budget at buying time will be about $20,000. I know I''ll get an inboard diesel if the right one comes along, but I''ve seen alot of nice boats that are definitly seaworthy, however, some have outboards only. Am I crazy to be entertaining the thought of buying a seaworthy boat, that has only an outboard, for the type of sailing I mentioned above? Is it not safe to think of sailing to the Bahamas or the Tortugas, or anywhere out of sight of land without an inboard diesel? Any experiences, opinions appreciated. Wishin'' all the best to those in Lilli''s path. May your boats be safe! Bob.
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Old 10-02-2002
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Outboard vs. Inboard

Today''s outboards are better built and more reliable than they used to be. In some other sailing venue I would say that an outboard would be fine, But the area you are proposing to sail within is notorious for its chop and outboards are next to useless when things get really bouncy.

I do think that an inboard is better suited for a liveaboard. I don''t think it needs to be a diesel. Carefully maintained and used a gas engine can be quite safe and substantially less money to buy and maintain.

Jeff
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Old 10-02-2002
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Outboard vs. Inboard

I have a 26 ft.boat and have sailed some of the areas you mentioned.My boat has an inboard diesel,but before taking her to the Bahamas I installed a outboard stern bracket.My reasoning was that should I have problems with my diesel, I could take the outboard off my dink and still have some motoring capabilities, even though they would be somewhat limited.I did have to rely upon my "back up" plan down in the Keys when I developed a minor problem with my diesel.I found that just as Jeff mentioned in his post, in any kind of chop the outboard was constantly jumping out of the water.Also, the fuel tank on my outboard (5hp)is pretty small which caused me to be refilling it often.Sailing single-handed, this can be a somewhat difficult task while you are underway. There are many advantages to outboards on boats, but for me personally, I wouldn''t make a Bahamas trip with only an outboard.Good luck with your plans!
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Old 10-03-2002
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Outboard vs. Inboard

When we were younger, poorer, etc. we cruised the Chesapeake and later the whole ICW aboard a Flicka (20'' LOA) with only an outboard. Friends on a sistership cruised the Bahamas comfortably with nothing but an Italian outboard for power. (If you want to live on the edge, mechanically speaking, try relying on a 1980 Italian outboard...).

I think the main disadvantages of an outboard for your plans are the absence of decent electrical generation and the high fuel consumption. Fuel is not readily available in much of the Bahamas (or quite expensive) and not at all available W of Key West. If you are route planning between the Bahamas and Ft. Myers, you''ll be tempted to consider using the Okeechobee Waterway in at least one direction, but that''s a lot of hours of buzzing. As for electricity, our Flicka was very basic but we still found the little alternator on our Honda outboard inadequate.

You may wonder why, in the presence of ''chop'' which suggests wind which means you can be sailing, hobby-horsing and clearance of the prop from the water would become an issue. There can easily be a cut in a reef, a small channel in the ICW or a narrow channel in which you must motor (no room for tacking) directly into the wind. It''s at those times the entire crew is sitting on the sterm pulpit, trying to depress the stern. OTOH a diesel will increase purchase price, increase maintenance costs, increase ''gear liability'' if not relatively new, increase overall weight, steal valuable storage room on a small boat, and be too close a neighbor to live with on a small boat. There are inviting reasons to avoid an inboard.

Jack
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