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Old 14-09-2013, 08:31   #1
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2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

SO I was reading a magazine, can't recall which, and the author of an article was saying that you should have a 2 stroke in the Caribbean. That's what everyone has and trying to get service for 4 strokes is difficult.

Is this true?
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Old 14-09-2013, 08:42   #2
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

No, there are lots of 4 strokes especially on US boats. However, the more remote the area the more easily you can find 2 stroke parts.The key is to have a Yamaha because the parts at much more readily available.

Budget marine sells hundreds of Tohatsu's and we sold our's and bought a Yamaha 2 stoke because the nearest parts for the Tohatsu were in Texas!
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Old 14-09-2013, 08:50   #3
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

(I'm in Mexico, west coast, headed into the Pacific soon)

I've got a 4hp Honda, the little ~2hp model. I'm apparently the only person in the universe that's never had a problem with it.

I'm keeping my eyes open for a Yamaha 2 stroke, simply based on what I've seen as far as repair parts go. Over here four strokes are getting more popular though.
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Old 14-09-2013, 09:03   #4
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

You can get parts and service for Yamaha 2 strokes anywhere in the world and especially in the out of way places where you'd be lucky to get service on a 4 stroke much less parts.. Not withstanding the bloody 4 strokes weigh so much. We are in the Med now using a little Yami 2stroke 3hp and when we get to the Caribbean we'll be searching for a 15 hp 2 stroke (the Yami 15 only weighs around 80 lbs.) as we plan on going back to the South Pacific.
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Old 14-09-2013, 09:04   #5
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

Although 2 strokes are more simple, lighter, and cheaper...

they also smoke more, stink, and are noisy.

I have a 4 hp and a 15 hp outboard. Both are 4 stroke, both are old and still work well, and I am happy they are not 2 strokes.

Of course if they break down and I am told shops only have 2 stroke parts I might end up singing another tune.
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Old 14-09-2013, 09:27   #6
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

At least in Mexico, the government subsidizes a lot of engines and a lot of the newer big engines are four strokes. So the parts and mechanics are building. Old Yamaha two strokes and newer Honda four strokes seem to be the dominant engine types on the pangas around here.
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Old 14-09-2013, 10:25   #7
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

We carried a 4-Stroke Yamaha 15 hp motor through Pacific Mexico, the Sea of Cortez and Central America on both Pacific and Caribbean sides.

Although our engine was very reliable and only once had a problem with rain water in the gas, we never found a place that didn't have parts or service for the engine...

Surprisingly even in the smallest villages, I would see Yamaha Parts stores and there were plenty of local mechanics that could work on 4-Strokes, which were fast becoming the main engine of the fisherman.

Two Strokes are noisy, burn about 35% more fuel and are not as dependable as 4-Strokes... The only reason to consider one is if engine weight is a problem from you.

On the other hand with any engine you should carry extra spark plugs, filters, engine and gear oils when you cruise. We also carried our engine's shop manual.

The last thing I would like to suggest is always use fuel stabilizer with 4-Stroke engines... It avoids the headaches of having to rebuild the carburetor!
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Old 14-09-2013, 10:53   #8
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
At least in Mexico, the government subsidizes a lot of engines and a lot of the newer big engines are four strokes. So the parts and mechanics are building. Old Yamaha two strokes and newer Honda four strokes seem to be the dominant engine types on the pangas around here.
The third world is funny that way... for a while all you will see is one brand of engine. If I remember right the early 80's in Mexico it was all Evinrude stuff. Next time I went many of the pangas had suzukis (white housing) Must be the govt subsidy thing.
Same type of thing in the DR, the DR is stock full of Yamaha 150-250 motor bikes. A cloud of blue smoke wherever you go. A lot of BikeTaxis in swarms. In the 99/2000 timeframe they were all Yamahas... I mean like 95% of them. Every kid on the block wanted one so he could start being a taxi service.
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:04   #9
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

Here is the real truth on this issue, and not "common knowledge" or decade old experience.

1. You rarely need "parts" for outboards.

2. Parts can be obtained for any engine anywhere in the world by simply flying them in with a commercial shipping service. The cost is usually the same as charged locally, if they even have the part.

3. If you think you can get "parts" for a particular brand simply because you see dealers for that brand in your area, think again. Very few places stock parts anymore. The local dealer will simply order the part and you will wait for it and pay a premium. Yes, they may have oil filters and zincs (you should carry those yourself), but not carburetors and pistons and exhaust manifolds, etc. For example, you cannot get a carburetor jet in Panama for the Enduro 15, even though those are the most widely sold engine there and there are several large dealerships. You can either place an order for one and wait for an unspecified time, or get it yourself cheaper from the US in 3 days.

Go ahead and test my thesis on this in your cruising grounds. I have in the areas we have been cruising, and found out that dealers find it too expensive to actually stock parts and now simply order them in as/when needed. If you are staying around St. Martin or the like, then you will have better luck with this than if you go further afield.

4. Yamaha 2-strokes are not all the same. Many of the parts for Caribbean Enduro's do not fit the other 2-stroke models sold elsewhere. Tohatsu is better, and their parts also interchange with Mercury 2-strokes. But you will still have to order them.

5. Mechanics everywhere have seen lots of 4-stroke engines, and have been working on them for years. In the San Blas Islands, the Kuna indians regularly strip down and rebuild 4-strokes right on the beach. If you are reliant on some shade tree mechanic in the edges of nowhere that only understands one particular 2-stroke engine, then you should spend 30 minutes with a manual and gain his knowledge for yourself.

6. Buy a service manual for any engine you choose and any mechanic anywhere in the world will be able to work on your particular engine and even order parts.

7. 4-stroke engine weights have come down dramatically over the past 15 years. The much vaunted 2-stroke Yamaha 15hp Enduro weighs 87lbs. The 4-stroke Suzuki 20hp weighs 97lbs (and has 5 more HP).

8. The remaining weight difference between the 2 and 4-stroke engine will be wiped out and surpassed by the extra 3 gallons of fuel you need to carry with the 2-stroke.

9. In 5 years of cruising the entire Caribbean, we have seen equal problems with 2 and 4-stroke engines. Neither appear to be "more robust" than the other. 95% of all problems were water in fuel. All of those problems could be solved if owners simply installed an external fuel filter/water separator.

10. The only shining moment for 2-strokes over 4-strokes is when you drop them overboard. The 2-stroke will be running like new within 15 minutes of retrieval, while the 4-stroke may be permanently damaged if it was running when it takes a swim. If it isn't damaged, you have a day's work to get it running well again.

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Old 14-09-2013, 11:05   #10
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

I'm sure you saw lots of 4 strokes in Mexico and USA as well as the the Caribbean but these are not out of the way places. Try some of the South Pacific Islands and you'll find it very hard to impossible to get parts for your 4 stroke Honda
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:06   #11
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
The third world is funny that way... for a while all you will see is one brand of engine. If I remember right the early 80's in Mexico it was all Evinrude stuff. Next time I went many of the pangas had suzukis (white housing) Must be the govt subsidy thing.
Same type of thing in the DR, the DR is stock full of Yamaha 150-250 motor bikes. A cloud of blue smoke wherever you go. A lot of BikeTaxis in swarms. In the 99/2000 timeframe they were all Yamahas... I mean like 95% of them. Every kid on the block wanted one so he could start being a taxi service.
Mainland Mexico it's this little monster these days.

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Old 14-09-2013, 11:24   #12
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
I'm sure you saw lots of 4 strokes in Mexico and USA as well as the the Caribbean but these are not out of the way places. Try some of the South Pacific Islands and you'll find it very hard to impossible to get parts for your 4 stroke Honda
Well, the OP was about the Caribbean.

I wouldn't find it difficult to get parts for a 4-stroke Honda in the South Pacific at all. I would simply fly them in - just like the dealers do.

Again, it is very rare to need "parts", other than simple maintenance items that you should be carrying onboard. When things do go kerplunk and require actual "parts", it is highly unlikely you will find them stocked in remote South Pacific Islands regardless of engine brand or model.

Many of these old-saw beliefs are either unexamined or have become factually untrue over the past decade due to economics.

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Old 14-09-2013, 11:36   #13
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

Well I've had the pleasure of flying some diesel engine parts into the South Pacific and the bill was really substantial. When they make great 4 strokes that develop 15 hp and weigh around 80 lbs I'll start to change my tune.
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Old 14-09-2013, 11:52   #14
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Re: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke outboard in Caribbean

I gave the example of the 4-stroke Suzuki 20hp weighing 97lbs compared to the 87lbs of the 2-stroke Yamaha 15hp (no 2-stroke weighs 80lbs anymore). The extra 3 gallons of fuel you need to carry with a 2-stroke adds 23lbs, so the advantage is actually with the 4-stroke.

Getting closer in HP, the Tohatsu 18hp 2-stroke weighs the same 97lbs as the Suzuki 20hp 4-stroke. Yamaha is out of the game here - once you go above 15hp, they become real back-breakers.

So the engine/fuel package is lighter for the 4-stroke - plus you get another 2-5hp out of it.

But in absolute terms, 87lbs is still a heavy piece to lug around. It doesn't seem like an additional 10lb will break the camel's back. If one needs to constantly lift and move an outboard, they shouldn't go with a 15hp of any ilk.

Part costs for anything anymore are going to be substantial. Dealers simply cannot afford to keep a large and varied stock anymore. It is much more economical for them to order the parts and have them either flown in or shipped ocean freight. That is the same option you have - only you can get parts for anything regardless of make. Often times, you can do it cheaper.

Like I said, don't take my word for it - do some actual research in the area(s) you plan to cruise. I think you will be surprised how things have changed over the years.

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Old 14-09-2013, 13:50   #15
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Re OP: Brand name and model are much more signficant than number of cycles.

Here in the Western Carib, Yamaha dominates the market with the Enduro series (2 stroke, central american build) being by far the most popular motor. I own 3 Enduros (15, 25, 60) and have never had trouble getting reasonably priced parts locally for any of them. Including parts for a full rebuild of the 60. Good mechanics with knowledge of these motors are common.

By contrast I also own a Tohatsu and a Johnson...both are sitting in my workshop waiting for me to import parts.

You can buy non Yamaha brands like Tohatsu here, but parts availability is a problem.
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