Take the Poll — What’s the Ideal Tender Outboard?

If you could have the perfect outboard for your dinghy or tender, what would it be?  A diesel perhaps, because you’re already carrying hundreds or thousands of gallons of that fuel and because looking for and storing gasoline is such a pain in the neck, not to mention dangerous? I’ve long thought, for example, that [...]

12th August 2010.
By Tom Tripp

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

If you could have the perfect outboard for your dinghy or tender, what would it be?  A diesel perhaps, because you’re already carrying hundreds or thousands of gallons of that fuel and because looking for and storing gasoline is such a pain in the neck, not to mention dangerous? I’ve long thought, for example, that Evinrude could probably make a small killing by adapting its current universal-fuel outboard for regular diesel use. It would probably get a little heavier, but since most of us are using a davit or crane of some kind already, that might not be a big problem. Size is probably the biggest current issue for small diesel outboards. Most engineering efforts, such as the Marine Engineering Group outboard in the top photo, have focused on larger, high-power units so far. But there are 20- and 30 hp diesels out there that might be adaptable. The second image is of the old Yanmar D Series, which I don’t believe is available anymore.

Marine Green Co-Founders Bill Parlatore and Howard Brooks test an early propane-powered outboard

Marine Green Co-Founders Bill Parlatore and Howard Brooks test an early propane-powered outboard

What about a propane-powered outboard? There’s at least one in development that looks promising and if you’re tanking propane for stoves or barbecue grills, it wouldn’t be much of an inconvenience to use that for the dinghy, too.

Yamaha's Current 2.5 hp Gas 4-stroke Outboard

Yamaha's Current 2.5 hp Gas 4-stroke Outboard

Maybe you just want whatever is cheapest because you don’t use it enough to justify any real investment. You just want something cheap and reliable. That’s probably a two- or four-stroke gas outboard, which is relatively inexpensive and (mostly) reliable.

New Torqeedo Travel 1003 Electric Outboard

New Torqeedo Travel 1003 Electric Outboard

What about an electric outboard? Like the Torqeedo or something similar?  Lots of benefits there — low noise, zero pollution, great acceleration, and plenty of fuel since most cruisers and passagemakers have copious electrical generating capacity. Okay, some sailboats don’t and maybe for them electric isn’t a viable option.  The downside to electric? Somewhat limited range, depending on what kind of performance you require (fast or slow). Read about Torqeedo’s outboards here and here.

Whatever your thoughts are, we’d like to hear about them.  Please take just a few seconds to take the poll on our front page (lower right section, you may have to scroll down a bit). We’ll do a follow-up with the results, although you can see the results any time you’d like by clicking on the link at the bottom of the survey.

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About the author:

Tom Tripp

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Tom is the publisher of www.OceanLines.biz, a website about passagemaking boats and information. He is also a contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine who has been at sea aboard everything from a 17-foot homemade wooden fishing boat to a 1,000-foot-long, 96,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

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