Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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The limitation of the size of a boat that can be outboard powered isn't the displacement of the boat, but the limitations of the prop size and gearing on an outboard. Most outboards can't take a very big prop and provide it with the lower gearing that it needs to move a displacement sailboat, and that's what you need when you get to the heavier, larger sailboats.
A 50 hp engine is all many of the 40' sailboats have, but you'd be hard pressed to find a prop that works, given the gearing most outboards have. Smaller outboards often have a "high-thrust" propellor available to them. Some outboards, which are sailboat market specific will offer a larger prop diameter or lower gearing.
Jim makes a good point as well... the larger boats will often have larger house battery banks and need the greater charging options that an inboard engine allows. An inboard engine is far more versatile than an outboard, and offers things like engine-driven watermakers and refrigeration, high-output alternators, hot water, cabin heating, etc., which an outboard can not.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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