Engines

Scrumpy has two Tohatsu extra long shaft outboards, one quite new, the other just run in.

I've sailed thousands of miles on several boats without engines. I thought sailing Scrumpy engineless might be OK (without engines, I could run the boat as a commercial fishing boat without needing to pay 10's of 000's of £'s for a license) but it wasn't. It doesn't have the momentum to carry it through awkward wind shifts and wind shadows.

The boat came with 2 Yamaha 9.8hp outboards. I partially rebuilt each of them with misgivings. Outboard parts are expensive, and I could see that there were things wrong with the engines that I'd never repair, like bolt-holes in the crankcase with ripped threads etc. It was a waste of money. I should have sold them right away and bought new ones. They gave me trouble frequently.

I came close to replacing at least one in Martinique. But talking to a dealer, he assured me that many of my problems with outboards would not be cured by getting new engines (not the greatest salesman). He told me that modern small outboards are very frugal, and have tiny jets in their carburettors. So tiny, that they very easily become partially or totally blocked in salt-laden air. The solution was to use petrol additive to continually clean out the carbs. I've always been sceptical about such additives, but tried it and it helped a lot.

But the engines died anyway.

Yamaha 9.8's weigh around 50kg. That seemed very heavy to me, and I know, because I lifted them out of the engine wells many times. So I decided to try a Tohatsu 6 extra long shaft - at less than 25kgs. That's better so far as the weight of the boat goes, but also makes it much handier to carry about.

I bought one engine in the US, and had it shipped out to Turks and Caicos. I was in the Dominican Republic when the engines both died, but we'd had such an unpleasant time with officialdom in that country I hated the idea of trying to persuade them to release an engine from customs. No doubt it would cost me a great deal of money, and so I thought it safer to sail through across to reef-strewn Turks and Caicos and have the engine sent there. That was a good choice - the customs people let me ship it duty free and even delivered it right to the beach next to my dinghy. :)

I didn't connect the engine to the Morse controls. I decided I liked having the option to easily get the outboard out of the well. It fits into one of the cockpit lockers, so when sailing a long distance, it was worth it to lift the engine into the locker, entirely safe from the waves. I couldn't do this with Morse controls fitted.

I've always rowed my dinghy, but in the lagoon at Mayaguana in the Bahamas, shallow water stretched for a long way, and it was maybe a mile to the shore, so I put the outboard onto the dinghy. It worked, and flat out, could reach a speed of 10 knots, despite the long shaft tending to lift the bow too much (sit way forward, and use a tiller extension) and the propeller being too big for such speeds (the engine is low geared and has a large prop, designed for pushing a big boat slowly than a little boat fast). So that was handy, and again, not possible if the Morse controls were fitted. And finally, back in the UK, it was a simple job to lift the engine off the boat for a service and storage through the winter in the garage.

I bought a second Tohatsu 6 in the UK, and the boat handles great with this arrangement. I've left the Morse controls installed on the boat, but not attached to the engines. I have extension poles that fit onto the throttle controls, so you don't have to reach down to change speed, but you do to change gear. It sometimes requires a little acrobatics to work the engines and steer single-handed, but I prefer this arrangement to the engines being attached to the remote controls. When I'm motoring down the river, I take the extension poles off and put the locker cover over the engines - nice and quiet.

Using the outboards with the extensions
Running both engines with extension poles on the throttles (excuse the mess that comes from having parked under trees!)

The UK engine is still under warranty, having run less than 15 hours. The US engine has run for about 25 hours in all.

They put out 5 amps, and I have the wiring in place so that the engines will charge the batteries, but haven't bothered connecting them - the solar panels are sufficient.

One engine flat out will drive the boat at a little over 5 knots in flat water, 4 knots at a more reasonable engine speed. With both engines going it reaches almost 7 knots, but I only run both engines when I might need the excellent manoeuvrability this provides. Normally, one engine is sufficient.

Engine mounts - I haven't yet seen an outboard installation on a cat that completely protects the outboards. Some of them are quite complicated with sleds that tilt the engine(s) and slid them forward away from the hole in the cockpit floor. I'm happy with the fixed arrangement I have. No green water gets into the engine area, but there are splashes when the boat is travelling fast in rough water. For short journeys that's fine. For a day or two, I put a bin liner over the top of the engine and tape it up. This protects it from splashes. For ocean crossing, I lift the engine off the mount and lay it in the locker beside protecting it entirely. It was very satisfying, having crossed the Atlantic and experienced very rough weather, to pull the outboard out on approaching the Azores and have it start first pull of the cord.

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