Join Date: Mar 2010
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I have used an electric to push my 19' 1,500lb Hunter in and out of the dock. A little 30lb trolling motor. I'm at a private residence, not a marina, so it's half a mile from the dock back in a narrow cove to open water. I've never made more than 2kt at full speed on the electric. But it's whisper quiet, and it too turns 180° for reverse.
It's all about choices. The electric is simple and straightforward, but if I run out of juice in the middle of the lake on a windless day, I don't have much of a choice but to raise the Zulu flag and hope somebody knows what that means.
An outboard has lots of torque; even a 2hp will push me to hull speed, and it's easy to bum some fuel off someone else if you run out. But outboards are expensive to buy new, and usually have some kind of problem that creeps up if you buy used. That's why I brought the electric onboard in the first place, because I knew sooner or later I was going to get so fed up with my outboard that I was going to throw it overboard. Then I'd invariably get a ticket for littering. And I'd be stuck in the middle of the lake. An all-around bad day.
Leaving and returning to the dock under sail is cheap (it's free, actually), and hugely gratifying. But it's not easy to do in a crowded marina, and in my narrow cove with steep sides (too narrow to tack, really), unless the wind is coming from just the right direction to get a good fetch, it could take an hour or more to get to open water.
But yes, just spin that small self-contained outboard 180-ish and you'll be off to the races in reverse.