PDQ offered diesel
saildrives and outboard
versions of both the 32 and the 36. Purchasers preferred outboards for or five to one. Seawind's 1000 and 1000XL never offered diesels. Maincat 30s, TomCats, and a host of smaller production cats all are powered by outboards. There are quite a few reasons, and only one of those is cost.
Fears of using gasoline on board are baseless: The have never been any catamarans lost
to gasoline fire. The reason is simply that safety
requirements are easy to meet and they work. I personally had an explosion on my Stiletto 30 when the carburetor bowl corroded enough to drip fuel
all over the engine
. I had the engine
cover off while I was trying to start it, it blew, burned my eyebrows and curled my forelocks, but it blew itself out, and I just had to paddle back to the dock
. That taught me enough respect that I follow the rules now. Net result, zero damage to the boat, and a reimnder in the mirror for a couple of weeks. Lesson learned.
So once you get past the bomb hazard myth, you get to see some realities. Diesels are marginally more efficient giving you more miles per pound of fuel
, but they are nowhere close to the economy of operation of outboards. Everything is cheaper. You buy 2000 hours of engine operation for $2500. Consumables such as filters, zincs, plugs and spares are one third the cost or less. Gas is cheaper than diesel, and most of us go six to eight nautical miles per gallon, some more. It there is a problem with the engine, you lift
it up into the cockpit
, and work on it at eye level. If you want to shine a light in a nook or cranny, you turn the engine instead of crawling around to another agonizing position in the bilges. If you have to get it worked on, you drop it in the dinghy
and take it to the mechanic
, pay shop hours instead of outcall and travel time. If you have to, you buy a new one, drop it in the boat, throw away the box, and go on your merry way. If you could keep a motorcycle running, you are more than ready to do everything yourself, and you can rebuild
it sitting in your lap.
No, it doesn't put out 80 amps, but a Honda
does that and burns the same fuel as your dinghy
. Its a cat, weight hurts, so you get your batteries charged without clowds of city bus exhaust
; think solar panels
, wind generator
, aux gen.
Cats over 38 feet seem to need more power than I do, but there are more powerful outboards around. My Previous cat was grossly overpowered with a single
But here is the really important advantages. Outboards don't drag in the water
when you're sailing. The outboard
equipped PDQ 36 is a KNOT
faster than the diesel boats, because the engines are lighter and lift
out of the water. saildrives, silette legs, and ourboard lower ends are aluminum
, a substance averse to saline immersion. Lift it out of the water if you can, and it will repay you by not dissolving in a slurry of electrolyte, and by not growing a microecology of green stuff and tiny critters. It will live longer than those 2000 hours, but you sell it at that point and buy new toys!
After ten years of sailing, you are half way through your third set of engines which have cost you the price of replacing one diesel engine and saildrive
, you have another three years of use left, and the diesel boat still has to replace the other engine before they can go anywhere!
Truth be told, Outboard engines are a very good reason not to buy a bigger boat!