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Old 04-02-2016, 22:08   #1
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Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Hello all,
this is my first post and I haven't seen an answer in other threads.

I am shopping for my first personally-owned sailboat (27-35' range, let's say) for outfitting for oceanic sailing in the next year. For my purposes, I'm not really sure that the cost of an overhaul or replacement of in inboard diesel fits into my overall plan. Still, some tight harbors or marinas quite often require such mechanized assistance.

My question: all things being equal, would an outboard motor mounted on a transom be a nautical hindrance if I needed to avoid the problems and expense of an inboard overhaul? It seems like it would be, but then again, I've never personally seen a sailboat with an outboard actually sail across the North Atlantic. If it is, that's fine, but that sort of thing is outside of my area.

Thanks in advance for your time.
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Old 04-02-2016, 22:41   #2
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

My old Vega sailed across both the Atlantic and Pacific with a 15hp outboard bolted to the transom. Carrying enough fuel appeared to be the only real issue although I'd strongly suggest you reinforce the transom if going this route.
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Old 05-02-2016, 00:50   #3
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

I'm on my second Albin Vega and both have had outboards. I'm currently preparing this one for a circumnavigation. It will have a 9.8 hp Tohatsu with only about 22 gallons of fuel aboard (probably). Basically if the wind isn't blowing, I won't be moving.

Downsides with some (but not all) outboard setups are:
  • Prop could rise out of the water during swells
  • Doesn't look as pretty
  • Tiller throttle/shift/manual tilt & pull start can be annoying
  • Reliance on gas (volatile relative to diesel)

I've solved a couple with:
  • Extra long (25") prop shaft
  • Remote throttle/steer/engine tilt controls + electric start

Each of my fuel tanks also has a dedicated Fireboy automatic flame-out system. These were installed by the previous owner, if it was me I probably wouldn't have invested in them (then again, I am particularly comfortable around gasoline).

Outboards are the powerplant of choice for a certain type of long-distance sailor (probably the type you'll find yourself relating to). Check out Atom Voyages for more thoughts regarding this topic.
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Old 05-02-2016, 01:10   #4
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Outboards use lots of fuel. I'm 67 and been on the water since 7. In all that time except for diesel versions, I've never seen a reliable outboard.
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Old 05-02-2016, 01:18   #5
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Inboard and outboard as a backup is the way to go.
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Old 05-02-2016, 01:31   #6
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Outboards use lots of fuel. I'm 67 and been on the water since 7. In all that time except for diesel versions, I've never seen a reliable outboard.
Times have changed.

New, fuel injected outboards sip fuel, especially as you back away from wide open throttle and into a steady cruising rpm.

30hp is a couple gallons an hour if not at 5000 rpm.
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Old 05-02-2016, 02:09   #7
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

my previous cat had 2 outboards.

My only reservation against outboards is fire. Once it starts, is too late. Diesel not so.
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Old 05-02-2016, 03:04   #8
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Had a 3.5 hp tohatsu on my old Grp 26 foot folkboat type. Worked well for me, and was perfect for the inflatable dinghy. The short sharft came out of the water if it was rough or there was a big short swell, and in over 20 knots it struggled, but it was a big step up from no engine and a big sweep that I had around cook strait for a few years before I picked up the outboard.

Offshore I stored it in a cockpit locker under the bridge deck after draining all the fuel and running the car by dry. I just sailed unless it got really flat and I thought I could push a few miles towards better winds or a nearby anchorage. I didn't carry much fuel offshore, about ten litres or so.

Light and simple, but it's not for everyone. I spent a few days mid Tasman drifting around, and others hove too waiting for head winds to change, or swells to ease.

I picked the spots I went to, avoiding strong tidal areas if the wind was light. Ideally a 5hp with a long leg and an outboard well would have been ideal.

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Old 05-02-2016, 05:25   #9
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

We removed our inboard in favor of a tohatsu sailpro 6 hp outboard. Some more details are here:

http://sailingdawntreader.com/2015/1...-new-outboard/

The inboard was running fine, but we did not want it anymore. A small boat can sail around tight waters easier than a large, and hardly any sailboat needs an engine offshore.
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:36   #10
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

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Originally Posted by cruisersfarm View Post
Times have changed.

New, fuel injected outboards sip fuel, especially as you back away from wide open throttle and into a steady cruising rpm.

30hp is a couple gallons an hour if not at 5000 rpm.
We have a 25hp 4stroke efi with 1000hrs on it. Other than oil changes and one spark plug & impeller change...it just runs. It's quiet and provides directional thrust way beyond what a fixed inboard would provide.

About 1 gal per hour at 6kts and if I cut back to about 4.5kts, it's less than 1/2 gal per hour. Diesel is probably a little better but not by much.

Here is the catch: If the boat was designed for an outboard (ours was), it's a great option. If you just bolt it on the back of a boat designed for an inboard, that is very likely to be problematic keeping the bottom in the water and the top out of the water.

While you don't need to fear gasoline, on a monohull, you do need to take some precautions (blowers, sniffers, etc...). Outboards solve a big part of the fire safety but unlike on a catamaran (which we have), you can't put the tanks on the bridge deck and bottom vent them eliminated most of the risk of a leaking fuel tank (same reason people don't fear gasoline powered cars)
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Old 05-02-2016, 05:38   #11
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Outboards use lots of fuel. I'm 67 and been on the water since 7. In all that time except for diesel versions, I've never seen a reliable outboard.

Actually, the new 4 stroke outboards do not use lots of fuel and are very reliable.

I have a 5 hp on my Bristol 27 and can motor for hours on a gallon of fuel.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:06   #12
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

I guess some cons for the outboard are trying to get one to play nicely with a windvane means that you often end up with the outboard offset to one side, so on one tack it comes out of the water, on the other it gets pretty low. This is only really a problem when some sail is set. But sometimes it's nice to have the thing ticking over while motorsailing.

Another minor annoyance is having to control the thing from down aft. I guess you could add a set of remote controls and even a hydraulic wheel, but things start getting real complex, and it's hard to remove for offshore work.

For bigger motors they get pretty heavy pretty quick. A friend had an old 10 up on his 34 foot steelie. He had a little crane to lift it up to a higher mount on the rail for coastal sailing where he wanted it to be handy but further from the sea.

Another friend has a 15hp on his 45 footer. It's permanently setup on the sugarscoop. Seems to work well for him.

Another minus is no , or limited charging, but solar panels work well these days.

A big plus is control under motor. You can reverse precisely by turning the engine, and the steerable thrust really helps wriggle into tight spots, the downside being less power, and a more awkward place to reach, often you need to leave the helm to adjust the throttle or turn the motor.

I've often thought a small outboard plus a small electric inboard engine and a petrol genset would be a pretty versatile and safe setup.

I love the work on "Dawn Treader" nice !
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:09   #13
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

one good sea over transom and no mas de outboard... might consider that, as often seas can be a nuisance while sailing em.
cavitation
windvane, if you are so inclined will have something to say about an outboard in its way....

as for the new 4 stroke obs--- damnthings get stuffed easily and require much work to make em go. have fun with that.
is why i ditched mine before i left san diego.. my 4 stroke 9,8 outboard was not only too heavy to manhandle sola and it was unreliable as hell.

fix your diesel. it is a much better option in long run.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:17   #14
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Re: Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Outboards use lots of fuel. I'm 67 and been on the water since 7. In all that time except for diesel versions, I've never seen a reliable outboard.
Different people seem to have different karma with outboards. I've never had an unreliable outboard in all my years on the water.

I like outboards, but for bluewater cruising in a boat which already has a diesel engine installed, I think it would be insane to buy an outboard and drag around a non-functional diesel engine.

If you were building a boat from scratch, and if you were considering building a Pardeys style boat with no inboard power at all, an outboard might be worth thinking about. But in your case, absolutely not. Overhaul the diesel, without the slightest doubt.
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Old 05-02-2016, 06:21   #15
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Pro/Con of outboard for blue water cruising

Some designs lend themselves well to outboards done right, I think James baldwin of atom voyages does outboards right as a conversion. Boats like pdq cats that were built for outboards do them right.

But taking a 35' boat, slapping a bracket on the back and expecting it to anything well is foolish, IMHO.

There are examples of this all over the net, looking on yachtworld will reveal at least one mahe 36 with outboards done wrong!!

Edit:: I've looked and can't find the mahe, but it's out there somewhere!!


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