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waverider24 11-01-2008 07:57 AM

Cruising with an Outboard
I have purshased a boat that had the saildrive taken out and an outboard motor installed in its place. The boat it's self is a sea worthy boat and a good coastal cruiser ( 1981 Mirage 275 ).

As my interest in coastal cruising increases I am wondering what to do. Is it nuts to use a boat with an outboard as a coastal cruiser? In my journey I will be crossing the Gulf of Maine, then heading down to the Bahamma's via the ICW.

I will be sailing most of the way but the need for motor sailing will no doubt be a great possibility. Of course outboards can isolate in heavy seas and the worry about a wave breaking it off my trasim is always a concern.

Can anyone give me more information on Cruising with an outboard as your prime a auxilary engine.

Skipper Jer 11-01-2008 09:19 AM

I had a Hunter 25 with a 9.9 hp outboard for over 7 years. The nice things about an out board: 1. when they need service you can take them to the shop, cheaper. 2. No big holes in your boat for cooling and exhaust. 3. You have more storage room since the engine is outside. We found the noise to be annoying. We would rise the stern locker lid up to block some of the noise.
I think the fuel economy is worst for a gas outboard. Repowering is usually cheaper for an outboard. I had the prop come out of the water in sharp 2 to 3 foot waves. I always worried someone would steal it. I burnt about a gallon an hour at around 4 knts.

PBzeer 11-01-2008 09:22 AM

In my trips north and south, I have seen many outboard powered cruisers. As with any part of cruising, planning ahead is the prime consideration.

waverider24 11-01-2008 09:44 AM

Very good points thanks John and Meme. My choices are to sell my boat and buy one with an inboard or use the boat I have for my travels. Both have there benefits.

I have read many articals of cruisers without any engine so I guess an outboard is always a better way to go. My travels will always be with in 50 miles of Coast so if there was ever a problem I most likely can find help ashore. And of course inboard engines are only good when they work so alot of cruiser have to use outboards anyway for back up.



PBzeer 11-01-2008 10:48 AM

Todd, the main advantage to having an inboard is for charging batteries.

mccary 11-01-2008 10:50 AM

I have a 27' with an outboard (Honda 4 stroke 9.9hp). I sail the central Chesapeake Bay just south of Annapolis. I have been thinking about 2 trips, the first is to the Outer Banks via the ICW. and the second is to the Bahamas. Does anyone see a problem with this? Obviously weather consideration is an issue and I would be careful. I would also have an onboard Chart-plotter AND paper charts, radio, compass, etc.

Has anyone gone to the Bahamas with a state (MD) registered (not USCG Documented) boat, is that allowed?

sailingdog 11-01-2008 10:54 AM

As long as the outboard is well-maintained, I don't see a problem with it. One of the sister ships to my boat did a trip from St. Petersburg, FL, down through the Caribbean to the east, a bit south and then back through the Caribbean west, to Honduras and is currently in Guatemala. That was a 3500 NM trip in an outboard powered boat. :)

Going to most of the Caribbean islands with a state registered boat is fairly easy, since they're fairly close to the US and used to it... once leaving the proximity of the US does USCG documentation become a bit more important.

Vasco 11-01-2008 11:23 AM


Originally Posted by mccary (Post 394403)
Has anyone gone to the Bahamas with a state (MD) registered (not USCG Documented) boat, is that allowed?

Not a problem. Just have your $100 or is it $150 for under 35 ft. ready.

sander06 11-01-2008 11:35 AM

Outboards aren't a bad idea except for the fact that you're now storing gasoline and not diesel on board. Ventilation and good fuel handling practices are required. A lot of old salts pull their diesels for coastal cruising because of the cost, ease of maintenance, and space savings.

camaraderie 11-01-2008 11:40 AM

RE Outboards...obviously they are less than ideal for offshore and coastal work since they are boat finicky (compared to inboards) and the prop becmes airborne just during those times you need it in the water most.
That is NOT a safety hazzard as long as the boat and captain are good. Hundreds make it down the ICW and to the Bahamas every year quite safely. The keys are:
  • An absolute dedication to staying put when the wind/wave forcast will not allow you to motor safely.
  • Staying not more than 12 hours from an all weather inlet so you can sail and/or motor to safety before anything gets really nasty.
  • Making sure your engine is fully maintained and in good working order before leaving.
  • Good fuel...not the stuff left in the can from last year!
  • The ability to do minor engine repairs yourself. Clean fuel lines, Clean carb, replace and gap spark pug etc.
  • An alternate way to charge your batteries for navigation/radio and house needs (Honda portable gen or passive solar/wind)
Good luck!

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