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Old 09-04-2018, 16:14   #1
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Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Hi everyone,

First post! I've already gained so much from this site researching my many, many "new sailor" questions - and I'm really looking forward to contributing back in the future. This is such a great community.

In the meantime, I am humbly asking for some specific advice from some of the more experienced sailors out there. My family (me, wife and 2 small kids) are first-time boat owners and are now looking to outfit our (new to us) 34' sloop with a dinghy to get us around mooring fields and to/from anchorages - and for some exploration too.

We already have our inflatable - it's a West Marine PHP 310 (Air Floor Inflatable). We were very grateful to get this as a gift from our parents so we couldn't beat the price. We have limited deck space (2003 Beneteau 331) so I do see us inflating and deflating regularly so am hoping this will work well. I do recognize the many benefits of a RIB and we will certainly explore those down the road when we become more experienced cruisers.

I am now stuck trying to decide on how big (or small) of an outboard to buy. The max horsepower (as stated by WM) is 9.9hp but it can supposedly plane 1 person with 4hp.

I would say about 40% of our usage time will be my whole family (total weight before any gear = 480 lbs) and the other 60% it will be me single-handing (230lbs - before gear).

I've had a # of people tell me to go as big as my boat can handle and others that say "start at 50% of max capacity" and then get the best combo of power and physical weight. I've had even others tell me just to get a 2HP given the high-concentration of no-wake zones in my area (Annapolis). I respect all of these viewpoints but as you can see I'm stuck!

I'm currently looking at Merc 4, Merc 6 and Merc 9.9. Not wed to these at all - just what is on my radar at this point.

We aren't going anywhere beyond the Chesapeake for a few years (at least that is the immediate plan) - so we will just be bouncing around the bay - finding as many anchorages as we can this summer (and having a blast!!). Our boat is currently on Back Creek in Annapolis.

Sincere thanks to anyone who has read this far (future posts will shorter, I promise) and I truly appreciate any insights/advice that anyone can share. I am not taking this purchase lightly and really want to make a good decision.

Thanks everyone!! Again, as I become a more experienced sailor/cruiser - I promise to contribute to this forum as best I can.

Joe
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Old 10-04-2018, 02:49   #2
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Well, one thing that makes this hard for me to input to is that I don't know the ages of the kids. Normally outboards last quite a while, and those kids will soon be heavier.

I have seen a lot of air floors dinghies assume a sort of "~" shape in the water, with too much hp in the outboard..... So, I would stick with around 5- 6 hp, and not plan on planing with the whole family aboard. Go with what will have less hp tax surcharge. Be content with low fuel consumption.

Jim and I have always had fast dinghies, and 15 hp engines, for the last 35 yrs. or so; therefore, this is "do as I say, but not as I do," but for your area and usage, non-planing speeds are suitable for the area, and part of being a responsible yachtie is not doing wake damage, and limiting carbon consumption. So a smaller engine kinda seems appropriate, even though it is not what we have done.

Ann
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Old 10-04-2018, 03:44   #3
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Ann - thanks! My daughter is 8 and my son is 5 (sorry for omitting that detail) so, yes, they will be continuing to grow. I appreciate your insights on air floor shape with high HP (I wasn't aware of this), and fuel consumption very much. Very helpful.
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Old 10-04-2018, 03:48   #4
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Joe.

I like the Mercury 4, 5 and 6hp FourStrokes that have both integral fuel tanks, and can also can be connected to a remote fuel tank.
Since they all weigh 57 Lbs, might as well go with the 6HP (price aside).
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Old 10-04-2018, 04:19   #5
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pirate Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

I have found 5hp to be the best for soft bottom dinghies.. enough power to plane for those quick solo dashes to shore and big enough to cope with loads at an acceptable speed.. without creating the state Ann described.
On my 331 I used to carry it semi inflated and folded on the foredeck tied down when voyaging.. but then again it did double as a liferaft.
The coastal work saw it hanging on the solar/dinghy arch I had fabricated in SXM.
The weight factor is another thing when you have to keep lifting it on and off the dinghy/motor storage mount
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Old 10-04-2018, 04:30   #6
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

If the expectation is to plane go with the max rating but even then it may be marginal getting on plane with the whole family and gear...especially as the kids get bigger.

A 9.9hp by yourself or with one of the little ones should get on plane no problem.
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:00   #7
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Can you pick up a 9.9 Merc with one or do you need both hands? So when you are stood in the wobbly dinghy passing the outboard up or trying to climb back on board with it, will you have free hands?

You can of course use the boom and a tackle, or even a dedicated lifting pole crane thing. Or just buy an engine small enough you can lift with one hand as you clime back on board.

We have a Seagull, but also a Honda 2.3hp to power a 2.7m inflatable. Small enough to carry with one hand. In addition we don't need to go fast in a dinghy around an anchorage.

Pete
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:44   #8
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

First.. I suggest you look at Tohatsu. They actually build all under 30HP motors for Merc. The Merc motors have a few more fancy features (like handle shift), but under the hood they are the exact same motors. The Tohatsu will likely be cheaper (by a pretty big margin).

As to HP. We are a family of 5 (aged 10, 9 and 7) with a aluminum RIB and have a 9.9. We have used if for the last 2 years and love it. For an inflatable floor, I would probably recomend the 6hp if you are on a budget. If not, go for the 9.9HP.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:08   #9
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Can you pick up a 9.9 Merc with one or do you need both hands? So when you are stood in the wobbly dinghy passing the outboard up or trying to climb back on board with it, will you have free hands?

You can of course use the boom and a tackle, or even a dedicated lifting pole crane thing. Or just buy an engine small enough you can lift with one hand as you clime back on board.

We have a Seagull, but also a Honda 2.3hp to power a 2.7m inflatable. Small enough to carry with one hand. In addition we don't need to go fast in a dinghy around an anchorage.

Pete
Depends how strong you are...I can one hand a 9.9 if needed.

Of course, I always tied a safety line to the motor regardless of size when transferring it over water as it's too easy for a wobble to send even a small motor to Neptune.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:09   #10
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

We have an Achilles LSI 290 air floor dinghy on our Pacific Seacraft 34. The dinghy is carried on the foredeck either inflated or folded. We inflate it with an Airhead 12V High Pressure Inflator/Deflator which is reasonably fast. The dinghy has three different outboards, all three pull start.

Tohatsu M3.5B - 2 cycle, 13kg, internal gas tank, 2005. We have this one with us in the Bahamas right now. It is light. I can pick it up with one hand to put it on or take it off the dinghy. It will plane one person on a good day. It has been submerged twice (once while running), and it recovered after draining out the water, rinsing it with fresh water, and feeding it WD-40.

Nissan (Tohatsu) NS 8B - 2 cycle, 25 kg, external gas tank, 1999. We also have this one with us. We use a block and tackle on a boom extension to move the engine from the boat to the dinghy. It will plane my wife, me, and one other adult. Before last year's trip to the Bahamas the steering tube froze in its bearings, and we bought the Yamaha below, but I later repaired then Nissan myself for around $200.

Yamaha 9.9 - 4 cycle, 39kg, external fuel tank, 2017. The engine is heavy and harder to handle on and off the dinghy. The engine distorts the dinghy tubes near the transom unless the dinghy is as tight as a drum. With the tubes distorted the transom is pressed down distorting the bottom, and the engine cavitates at times. It has a higher compression ratio and is harder to pull start. We bought the 9.9 because it has the same weight as the recommended 8 and was on sale at a price just higher than the estimated dealer's repair estimate for the Nissan. The Yamaha runs like a charm, but we left it at home this year.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:26   #11
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

If it were me, I'd spend the money and get a Torqeedo electric. Environmentally conscious, and virtually no maintenance. The small 4-strokes are great in cool climates, but we've had no end of trouble with them in the tropics.

You won't plane with an electric, but what's the hurry?
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:32   #12
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

When we went offshore, the sailmaker guaranteed that he would never build a sail my wife could not lift. I would also never have an outboard she could not pull start. Ergo your children. If there may ever be a time when they are alone in the dinghy, (as they get older) a prudent observation may be to have an outboard they can start.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:35   #13
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

Stay away from Tohatsu or mercury since I have 3.5 4 stroke and had to replace carberator twice. Hondo 2 HP with no reverse
is LIGHT. You need light since you intend to bring it on board all the time. Also
Yamaha smallest motor is dependable too. Key point is you will regret getting a heavy dingy motor
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:38   #14
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

check out the sea eagle products. We LOVE our 10' with the inflatable floor. Very solid and weighs less than 100 lbs to hang off the back on the lightweight davits. We have 2 humans and 2 dogs no problem for this dinghy. Can take 4-5 adults! great company, fast shipping and good choices
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:51   #15
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Re: Advice on Outboard Choice (HP) for Dinghy (Family of 4 - 2 small kids)

For around 20 years I used a 5 hp 2stroke Nissan on a 10ft wood floor Archilles. It was difficult to assemble the wood floor on the deck of the boat and I used it mostly on the Chesapeake and towed the thing. The 2 stroke OB weighted in at 40 something pounds and I could lift it from the dinghy to the sailboat without much problem. I did use both hands for lifting and had to watch for wakes from other boats. With a 4 stroke the weight comes in at 60 pounds and I'm not sure if I could manage it now without some sort of crane. To me it was important to plane so as to explore anchorages and make good time to distance areas. That 5 hp could plane me at 200 and my wife at 120 with some effort. I did switch out the prop to gain some more speed which seem to help over the standard prop that came with it. Not sure if an inflatable floor model would plane and also the longer length of the dinghy will help it to plane even though it will weigh more.
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