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  #11  
Old 11-09-2009
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I've owned three boats with an AT4. The F..'n things are junk, pure junk. If it isn't the fuel, its the carb, of the fuel pump, or the wires, or the distributor or the coil .. .. JUNK!
That, off course, is why the small diesel came along. Anyone who has ever had to live with the AT4, and had their vacation ruined, or ended up paying hundreds of dollars because the junk didn't start, or kept going off .. knows this. The problem? There are some darn nice boats for sale that still have the AT$ in them. The owners are hoping, praying, that some unsuspecting moron will come along, and purchase his boat. The sales pitch is always the same "ya can't kill one, they always run, simple like a lawnmower". Then the poor victim buys the boat. After getting everything ready, he tells the marina to drop her in. It is normally within the hour, that the AT$ begins its assigned role in life; drive the new owner into therapy. It does not start. It starts but then quits. Exhaust gas starts coming out of the exhaust pipe .. the plugs are plugged. The wires are no good. It overheats .. And another like has been altered. The AT$ has struck again. Hundreds of dollars later, after the marina has collected enough to offer its employees a pension and free medical coverage; the thing kinda works. Never really working like it should, just working enough to pretend to work, so that the new boat owner heads for open sea, and the lift bridge.. haaahhaha . the lift bridge .. that is where the AT$ always shuts down. The bridge is up, the current running toward the bridge, and the AT$ shuts down, too late for the anchor, and WAMMOOO.. the mast is knocked down the side of the boat gets all smashed .. and once the boat has floated to the other side of the bridge .. ROAR.. the AT$ comes to life.. hahahahah ... Too bad sucker, the AT$ thinks as it purrs.. hahahahha

Not me.. been there .. done that.. can't wait to take the pile of **** engine and dump it into the ocean.. Watching the bubbles.. as it sinks to the bottom to rust away.. a slow death.. that is what it deserves..

Last edited by Faster; 11-10-2009 at 01:49 PM. Reason: personal attack
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  #12  
Old 11-09-2009
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I used to have a 28' Pearson Triton with no engine. A4 was pulled and aperture was glassed over. I sailed out of Woods Hole MA, which has ridiculous currents and I never had an incident. So yes, with a little prudent seamanship it can be done. Yes, there will be moments when you'll wish you had one. There will also be plenty of times you'll be glad you don't have to mess with the maintenance and expense of having an engine. I found that I enjoyed sailing sans engine much more than I ever missed one.

You need to be honest with yourself about what you want out of a boat. If you're looking for something to use when it's convenient you will certainly need an engine. However, if you're more interested challenge than convenience and don't mind wait out wind and tide when needed (sometimes days) then maybe engineless sailing is for you.

Jerome Fitzgerald does make for an interesting read, I highly recommend it. And no one has mentioned this before but there is a company that makes an electric motor that drops into the A4's old mount and uses the existing shaft and prop. That might be worth a look if you're not interested in motoring far and have a reliable way to charge the batteries.
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  #13  
Old 11-09-2009
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The Atomic4 certainly has a reputation as a problematic engine. And they have blown up a boat or two -- gasoline in large quantities is a scary thing to have on a boat. Tho thousands of people with gasoline-powered sailboats & stinkpots apparently fail to blow up every year....

Thirty footer: how heavy? If it's under 10,000#, you could forget about the tugboat scheme and just use the dinghy outboard to move the main boat. Gotta hang the dink motor on the aft rail anyhow, right? Hang it on a lowering mount. A 9hp outboard will push a 30' medium cruiser 95% of what you need. (The other 5%, you'll need to find a workaround. Even sailors w/ big inboards need workarounds, for the 5% chance their engine croaks. It will happen.) Still gotta store gasoline, but if your plan is docking/mooring use only, then an outboard with a small gasoline supply would serve. Cheaper than most diesel repowers.

It is very hard to get by without an engine today. But people did so for centuries and some still manage. Denise has a good point: if the A4 is a deal killer, find a boat that doesn't have one. Most boats don't. I'm like that with balsa coring: some people continue to champion it, despite the vast number of sailboats with rotten balsa hulls and decks. I went ahead and bought a SJ21 with balsa deck, and yup, it's bad. The defenders of balsa can have it -- my next boat won't. It's on the Deal Killer list.
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  #14  
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I am simply not a good enough sailor to go without a motor, but I would like to be. I think if you are good enough to go without a motor then having a motor really is a safety feature. But if you can't get along without a motor, it isn't a safety feature, it is a necessity, and that's like having training wheels, you can easily get into situations where a motor failure could cause you a great deal of harm. I'd rather know how to sail without the motor and then have one. I wouldn't call people who sail without motors purists, they're just sailors who have skills I wish I had. If I thought I could get along without a motor, I would, not because I'm a purist, but because I didn't take up sailing to motor all around everywhere!
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Last edited by wind_magic; 11-09-2009 at 08:57 PM. Reason: sp
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Followup - I think motors are mostly for people who have schedules to keep. I could see where a delivery person would need a motor, or someone who charters boats, because they have schedules to keep and not having wind can really cause them a lot of trouble. And I can even see having a motor for people who can only sail on weekends for the same reason, it would really limit your range if you couldn't count on a motor to get you back to port (and thus back to your life on Monday). But for cruisers who are out there and have all the time in the world ? At best I would think of a motor as a safety feature, otherwise what is the purpose ? Maybe if you just had such an active cruising social life that you had to be at every potluck and rally on time, but that's not really my idea of cruising ...
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  #16  
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Buying a boat with an Atomic 4 is sort of like deciding to start dating a girl with a meth problem, or a drinking problem. You know you are going to have trouble, so why start? I'd suggest you keep looking for a boat with a nice little diesel. Then, you can practice sailing without turning the engine on, but will have it when you need it. The first couple of times you try to dock under sail you can have the engine running in neutral, just in case!

I agree with WindMagic, engines are more important for people with schedules. Without a schedule, and with plenty of food and booze on board, you can just wait for days for the wind to change to make it into home port, who cares how many days? Assuming you are not drifting onto a lee shore or a Navy torpedo firing range. I personally have an engine and like it. Even when I'm living on the boat with no particular place to go and no particular time to get there by, it's nice to just be able to turn on the engine after the wind dies and make it to the next anchorage so I can have a cocktail and a nice night's sleep.

I say stop loving the boat you are looking at, find one with a diesel!
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  #17  
Old 11-09-2009
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I do not share your antipathy towards the A4 engine but we are all entitled to our own opinions.
Beta Marine makes several models of Kubota diesel engines that are 'drop in' A4 replacements. Beta Marine US Ltd. Distributors for Kubota based marine diesel engines and generators for sailboats, yachts and trawler boats.
I will point out that diesel engines have their own set of issues although they are definitely the preferred propulsion choice for a re-power. Diesels can be quite noisy and need maintenance as well.
At least once I had a guest on board our boat while motoring in low/no winds who commented how quiet the A4 engine was compared to his friends diesel powered sail boat.
Good luck whatever you choose to do.
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Old 11-09-2009
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I say buy the boat and sell me the a4.
Running or not, ill take it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightyhorton View Post
Buying a boat with an Atomic 4 is sort of like deciding to start dating a girl with a meth problem, or a drinking problem. You know you are going to have trouble, so why start?
Oh god, I cried when I read that. Ain't it the truth...
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Old 11-09-2009
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I wuz going to say sell it

Quote:
Originally Posted by cnc33voodoo View Post
I say buy the boat and sell me the a4.
Running or not, ill take it.
You very well might be able to get $800 - $1K for the old A4 from some masochist who wants parts for their old engine. You really shouldn't dump old engines full of oil into the ocean anyway.
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