Katie, congratulations on having not only a dream, but also a boat! Lot’s of good advice and differing opinions here. But you will have to decide which of it applies to you. One thing, though; if you wait until you think everything is perfect and everyone agrees you and your boat are completely ready, you will likely never go.
Keep in mind that when you leave, you will only be going down the ICW
to the next town! There are cities, marinas
and all manner of civilization all along the way. And you will be learning
and fixing and preparing your boat all the way to Lake Worth
or Key West
. And then you can step it up by heading to the Bahamas
. Still not the end of the Earth.
Have you ever been a waitress or bar maid? With those skills you can get a job anywhere to refill your cruising boat kitty. There are probably thousands of bars and restaurants within walking distance of the ICW
And consider taking a friend with you. Everything is scarier alone.
My 2 cents worth on your engine: An outboard hung on the transom of a sailboat, especially a 34 footer, is not the best way to go. But it is not without it’s own advantages. Chief among them is the relative cost and ease of replacing it if needed. If you decide to keep the outboard, you will need to become a better sailor. You have a boat known for sailing well. So learn to sail it well.
Motoring against strong currents, wind
, and steep waves was not an option for Columbus. And it will not be an option for you. You will have to learn to predict tides and currents and wind
and seas and work
with them rather than against them. You will wait till conditions favor your direction of travel. Or decide to travel in the direction conditions favor!
will be for moving around in marinas
, quiet anchorages
and motoring in calm no wind situations. You’ll have to learn the limitations of your boat and plan ahead.
But, I think you may have the wrong outboard motor
. Could your motor be a Johnson 28 SPL? I’m unaware of a 28sp. And i’m fairly certain Johnson didn’t make the 28 in a sailboat model. It would be called a Sailmaster, most likely. And it would have a decal of a sailboat on the cowl. If it’s the original cowl! I could be wrong. If it is a 28 SPL, it’s a great motor. But not for your boat. It is geared and propped for a light weight, high speed planing hull
. Not a 15,000 lb sailboat going 5 knots. On your boat it will begin to cavitate at half throttle, or perhaps not even turn up to half it’s rated RPM
at full throttle. And it weighs about 125 lbs, which is too heavy for you to lift
it off or back on.
If you decide to stay with an outboard, I think you should trade
your 28 for a purpose designed sailboat motor. Like the Johnson 8 or 9.9 Sailmaster. or other similar style in another brand. It will come with a longer shaft length to put your prop deeper in the water
. And it will be geared lower and have a larger diameter lower pitch
prop designed for moving heavy loads at low speed. And if you buy an older one in good condition, it will only weigh about 80 lbs. Still damn heavy, but better than 125!
Most importantly, it will work better. perhaps you can even find someone who will let you try theirs and help you make the swap.
Beware the newer ones with more bells and whistles. Yes, they have electric
starters, high output alternators and some are 4 strokes. But they weigh as much or more than your current
motor. They also cost more.
Speaking of costs, I bet you can sell your present motor for more than an 8 or 9.9 sail master will cost. Maybe 3 x as much.
But you can do better still. If you are committed to using an outboard, and your inboard is in fact a dead player… yank it! Call it blasphemy if you want, but I say take it and all its assorted attachments right out. The motor, transmission
, shaft and prop, thru hulls, valves and hoses, shaft log, controls and cables
system, wires, mounts, gauge panel, the works. It’s hundreds of pounds of dead weight taking up space you could use for storage
. Then put the whole oily, rusty mess up for sale
. Believe me, someone will buy it!
You can clean out your fuel tank
and install a proper gasoline outboard fuel system including a spin on type fuel filter/ water
separator, new USCG approved for ethanol fuels fuel line and squeeze bulb, new fittings and a blower fan. And don’t forget the 40 year old O-ring in the fuel filler cap. This is a much nicer system to live with than the usual plastic tank in the cockpit
so often seen in outboard powered boats. Just be sure NOTHING leaks
, or KABOOM! The vast majority of boats around the globe run on gas, and most of them do not blow up. Especially since your motor is no longer in the boat.
And if some boatyard sage says, “well I would NEVER sail in a gasoline engined boat, it’s UNSAFE!” Just ask them if they have propane
on board, or plastic jerry cans full of gasoline for the dinghy
lashed on deck….…. In fact, your boat may have been originally equipped with an Atomic Four running, yep, gasoline!
Your boat will experience a net weight loss in the back end and likely sail better. Even with the motor on the transom. And here is where the outboard option really starts looking better. You also get to plug
up three holes in your hull
that can potentially sink your boat; the cooling
water intake, the prop shaft, and the exhaust
outlet. And you get decreased maintenance
expenses. The trade
off is motoring power
. And maybe some battery charging
capability. Your choice, Captain
I bet your local community college offers an outboard motor repair
course. Take the first one you can get into. It will help you tremendously in shopping
for a replacement motor. And sooner or later save you a bunch of money when something goes wrong with whatever you have. If there’s even a mechanic
around to pay.
Good luck, and don’t wait till you’re old to have a life