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thebrakes 12-18-2003 04:33 AM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
i recently purchased a san juan 21, 7'' beam, weighs 1250 lbs. i am considering powering it with electric trolling motor(s), the kind typically used by fishermen for keeping quiet.

naturally, this is not a permanent arrangement. i intend to install a small gas outboard in a short while, but need a quick power fix to move the boat and get me around in the meantime.

has anyone tried this before? will the engines produce enough power to get me through the water?

i have access to some really cheap electric motors, which is why i am even considering this. any guidance would be most appreciated.

c172guy 12-18-2003 05:06 AM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
I have powered a 18'' daysailer with a 1.2hp outboard. It worked OK. There was a guy that powered a 25'' sailboat with a simular motor. He moved slow. Unfortunately the trolling motors are rated in pounds of thrust and the small outboards in horsepower.
In short I think that it would work in light winds to move you a short distance in and out of the dock. I''ve seen some bass boats moving along at several knots with their trolling motors.

SailinJay 12-19-2003 05:17 AM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
The sailing school I went to allowed you to charter their school boats, Tanzer 22s, for day sails. They had 12 boats or so, but only three outboards. If you didn''t get there early, you had to get towed out and back. So I pulled a trolling motor off of my small aluminum fishing boat (35-pounds of thrust) and brought it with me for the Tanzer. Got me out away from the dock and out on the water, and back with no problem. In later years I used it on a Catalina 22 with similar results. You didn''t move fast, but even in a blow you could make forward progress.

They make 55-pound thrust saltwater motors and I was considering one of those to replace an old Johnson 9.9 that was a bit finicky. Was motoring out next to a J-24 that had one of them, and the guy was moving along very smartly, much faster than I did with the smaller motor.

The 55-pound thrust motor is used with a 12-volt deep cycle battery. If you rig up a 24-volt system, you can get electric motors that have much higher thrust. These would be more than enough for a small sailboat.

e-27 sailor 12-20-2003 07:19 PM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
I power my Express 27 (2450#) with a Honda 2HP. The motor only weighs 28lbs and burns 1qt/hr. In protected waters, I can motor at about 5-6 knots, and it''s never failed to start.

gstraub 12-21-2003 05:04 AM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
Quite a while back I owned a Holder 20 that I think weighs about the same as your San Juan. I used an old Sears trolling motor and a marine battery as an auxiliary. It worked fine. I eventually moved up to a 2 HP Honda outboard, and that worked even better.


StanLee 12-29-2003 12:59 PM

electric trolling motors for small sailboats?
I currently use a walmart bought 50lb thrust electric to push my 18Ft trimaran around. works great, very quiet no fumes and just needs an occasional battery charge.
A friend has alos used one to push his Oday 20'' as well.


Moonlightuser 05-21-2008 11:09 AM

I have a 22' US Yacht and I want to go down from an 8HP 2 stroke to a 2HP Honda 4 stroke and I'm wondering if it will help at all when the winds pick up and I decide to try and head into the wind to lower my sails. 8 and 9.9 HP motors are just too heavy and that's what I've been using for over 10 years. I like everything about Hondas little 2 except I know I'm loosing a lot of power and my only concern is what happens in a heavy storm?

sailingdog 05-21-2008 11:15 AM


You'd be much better off with a 3.5 HP or 5 hp four-stroke, since they're relatively light and a good deal more powerful than the 2 HP Honda, which has no transmission IIRC. Not having a transmission can mean problems when trying to maneuver at slow speeds.

The 3.5 HP Tohatsu is about 40 lbs. with a full tank, and I like the one I have very much. :)


As a stop-gap measure, the electric trolling motor might work fairly well, provided you remember to charge the batteries regularly, don't run them completely flat, and only have short distances in relatively calm waters to move the boat over.

Freesail99 05-21-2008 11:17 AM

I was on a capri 22 with a 2 hp honda on the Delaware river which has a strong current, it did "ok", not a world beater. If I was in any coastal conditions, I would like a bigger motor, perhaps a 3.5 hp ?

Moonlightuser 05-21-2008 02:32 PM

Thank you. Looks like the Tohatsu you have is the 2 stroke and that they do not make anymore. They do have a 4 stroke though and their prices look better than Honda and Yamaha.


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