About 10 years ago I had a Vancouver 25 with a small Yanmar diesel
and 15 gallon tank. It's nice to push the button and be under power...and with a well-maintained diesel
it's very reliable. Also for range and charging
can't be beat. But...expensive if not already there (prohibitively for most small boats...cost more to re-power than the boat will ever be worth). With a longer keel
and stern hung rudder
backing up was a coin toss. When it needed service
, I had to make an appointment and meet somebody there and then pay what always seemed like too much. Took up lots of space on a small boat and added a lot of complexity.
Fast forward and now I have a Pearson
Triton with a 4-stroke 6 hp long shaft in a tilt-up well. Things I really like:
1) It turns in the well and provides side thrust. In reverse this is very useful in and out of the slip. This one feature alone could almost convince me to never go back.
2) Tilts up so no drag when sailing.
3) No extra thru-holes in boat/stuffing box.
4) Easy to remove/move for maintenance
. Worst case I would replace -- try that with a diesel. When I'm ready to go cruising I'll probably bring along an extra in case of damage/theft/repair (It would be hard to steal locked in the well but hung off the back sounds sketchy).
5) I remember many trips over the side to clear line/weeds on the Vancouver 25. The one time I've picked up some weeds with the outboard it took less than 2 dry minutes (tilt up, clear, tilt down).
6) No trips to fuel dock
as I can fill at any gas station and carry it down. (This is offset by how rarely I had to fill the diesel tank--maybe once a year.) I do dump the gas in my car after a month to keep it fresh...which is a pain.
7) The large space opened up by removing the almost inaccessible hunk of heavy, hot, sometimes stinky metal (not to be overlooked on a small boat).
Of course, this all depends on your usage and on you. I mostly go in and out of a marina and then sail. That's why I got a sailboat. If there's not much wind
I just sail slower. I've heard "serious cruisers" say they need a thousand mile range under power. But I personally know a few that have done it without any engine
. Either can be done but both have compromises.
Personally, I'm happy with the outboard for now and it fits in with my philosophy of keeping things simple. If it weren't in a well and just hung off the back I'd probably feel differently (aesthetics and ergonomics would ruin it for me).
Here's so more reading on the "outboard well" concept