A lot of people that sail boats in the 18 to 30 foot range have done away with internal engines and have switched to outboard motors to power their craft when they are not sailing it.
One of the advantages of an outboard motor for the day-sailor is that it lightens the total weight of the boat, giving you more speed when you want it. Another nice thing about using an outboard motor is that if there is a problem, the engine can be removed and brought into the shop separate from the boat. Engines that are built into the boat either require a tow to the shop or an onsite mechanic to come and visit them in the marina that they are moored in.
Here are some considerations that can help you to understand what type of outboard motor will be adequate for your sailboat:
Are you sailing in blue water? If you take your boat out in Southern California or the Puget Sound, or off Chesapeake, horsepower is going to come into play. Most dealers can help you determine the amount of horsepower that you will need for each size of boat when you want to optimize conditions. For blue water excursions, another thing that you will want is one of the most reliable outboards on the market in order to have a safe trip. Suzuki outboard motors are one example of a brand that has been tested and is used quite a bit in boats that spend time in blue water.
Do you bring a crowd? Like an airplane, the more people you put into a sailboat, the more changes there will be to its performance dynamics. If you normally have several people show up to go on a sailing trip, you will need a stronger engine.
How often do you sail? Whether you are sailing several times a week or sailing once a month, there will be maintenance that needs to be done on your outboard in order to ensure that it remains in top shape. If you would prefer not to have as much maintenance, you can look at outboards that have a solid-state ignition or a self-adjusting timing chain- both features that will lower the amount of time that you need to spend on maintaining your outboard.
Outboard motors are one of the most convenient and popular types of motor to use on sailboats. Ensuring that they are strong enough, reliable enough and as maintenance-centric as you want them to be will help you to make the right choice when you start looking at purchasing one.
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