Latest News: Forums Technical Carrying an outboard motor safely

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  • #4522

    I suspect I’m not alone in being a little worried every time I take the outboard with me.

    When out on lighter wind days, I always carry the motor stowed up under the deck (lots of room for this on a World). I very rarely actually end up using it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

    On the other hand, I know that capsizes happen. And that motors do not like them.
    In other designs of W, you can carry the motor in the locker- but I can’t do this.

    Has anybody tried using a big dry-bag for this? Would the material be petrol/oil proof? I’m also a bit concerned that the bag would be hard to strap down.

    #11234
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    I wouldn’t exactly say that I worry about the outboard, but when we first bought one I decided that I wanted to stow it as close to the centre of the boat as possible, and looked for a drybag to keep it dry and the boat free from oil and fuel.

    I didn’t find a suitable bag (it would have to be huge), and realistically on most trips there isn’t room in the boat – not for our 4-stroke anyway, and in the event of a capsize it would obviously be dangerous if the motor wasn’t VERY well tied down.

    These days I don’t worry about adverse weight distribution – the outboard stays on the bracket aft of the transom, sometimes for a week or two at a time (unless removed when rolling the boat up or down a beach). It’s out of the way when not needed, ready to use at a moment’s notice, and outside the tent when sleeping aboard. We sail conservatively when cruising, reefing early and not being too proud to “wear round” if a gybe looks alarming. I know that I could capsize, but would estimate that it’s equally likely that I’ll one day drop the outboard in the water when attaching or detaching it! This risk is surely greatly increased if en route, and there’s less likelihood of recovering the engine from deep water (although a tether improves the odds).

    On a couple of occasions when day-sailing I have taken the decision to leave the outboard ashore when there has been plenty of wind(!), reasoning that in the unlikely event of the wind dying completely I would resort to paddles, oars, tide, a tow-rope, or combination of these, but otherwise it’s not a cause of worry.

    #11235
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    Other then racers we cruisers tend to avoid capsizing by reefing early and a few other precautions.

    Having said that it does happen, like the other day when I was caught by a wind whirling around the pillar of a huge motorway bridge. Luckily it was with my old boat and my old outboard, a gas guzzling 1998 Suzuki two stroke. All it took to get it running again was to remove the spark plug, give it a few pulls on the starter cord, until all water left the cylinder. Then I put the spark plug back in, and it started on the third pull. I never worried about the outboard getting submerged at all, as long as you rinse it well with sweet water afterwards. A two stroke is lubricated by the petrol so no worries there.

    I worry much more about my current Honda four stroke. When it is turned over the wrong way oil from the carter flows in to the cylinder. I am not sure if that is just as easy to fix as the water logged cylinder of my old Suzuki two stroke. Also the Suzuki did not have any electronics, all it had was a coil that was waterproof because it was embedded in resin. I have no idea how the modern electronics in our eco-friendly, low fuel use, engines behaves after it has been submerged in sea water.

    Over the last two years, I left the engine in the car most of the time. I just felt no need to use it. On the odd occasion the wind dies totally there is always some yacht willing to give a tow. It is better then dragging the big, never used, balance disturbing. “anchor” along on my endeavours. The reality is I never need the engine and I rarely use it.

    #11236

    My engine is a Tohatsu 3.5 2-stroke… maybe I should worry less about it getting dunked?

    I’m not paranoid about capsizing, in fact in five years of Wayfaring I have had only two capsizes- one of them when my old Mk1 was on its mooring, and I hadn’t bailed it for a few days; and the other due to water trapped in the buoyancy tank of my World, which destabilised the boat. I didn’t even get my socks wet on that occasion, as the boat rolled over quite lazily and I had time to climb onto the centreboard.

    It doesn’t seem ideal to need to take the engine home and flush it through before being able to use it, though. If I ever do suffer a capsize I might well need the motor so that I can get home quickly.

    #11237
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    Ah, a two-stroke. Just make sure you carry a spark plug wrench. And, like with all other stuff, tie the engine to the boat, just in case.
    Another thing I always carried while I still had a two-stroke, was a copper haired brush. It is used to clean the spark plug if it greases up.

    #11238

    @Swiebertje wrote:

    Over the last two years, I left the engine in the car most of the time. I just felt no need to use it. On the odd occasion the wind dies totally there is always some yacht willing to give a tow. It is better then dragging the big, never used, balance disturbing. “anchor” along on my endeavours. The reality is I never need the engine and I rarely use it.

    Yes, most of the time I never end up using the engine.
    But there is almost never somebody around to give a tow. Nor are there likely to be any realistic options for getting ashore quickly.
    I don’t really mind, though… the Hebrides are a pretty good place to sail… you just have to be prepared to look out for yourself.

    #11241
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    Over the years I have turned from an engine enthusiast and advocate to a more sceptical approach. When thinking about safe and competent sailing a boat like a Wayfarer, is an engine really part of the equation? Or is it just a convenience? Nowadays I tend to lean towards the latter. After all, Frank Dye never carried an engine on his epic voyages to Norway and Iceland.

    Here is a question of conscience for a true Enlish Gentleman: If it is only “just a convenience” do we really want the trouble of carrying an engine, just to be home in time for tea?
    Luckily I am not English, that makes the choice a lot easier. We don’t have tea over here, we settle for an after sail beer instead….

    Cheers 😆

    #11245

    interesting thread

    I was told by an ex-wayfaring colleague of his dropping a modern outboard (suzuki or yamaha I think) in the drink, and how worried they’d been after doing it, only to find on getting home that it started on the first pull!

    So the question is, was this a fluke? Will a modern 4-stroke engine stil work after imersion in water and/or going just past the horozontal? (assuming you have means to avoid turtling and that the engine was working when you set off!)

    the oil problem is a separate factor: clearly these engines don’t mind being laid on the side they are designed to be stored on. on the other hand putting it in a locker/bag to keep it dry when not in use doesn’t get round the fact of the position of the engine whilst the boat is on its side when a capsize can in fact invert the engine!

    as they say in my line of work … “we need more data!”

    #11246

    @Swiebertje wrote:

    Over the years I have turned from an engine enthusiast and advocate to a more sceptical approach. When thinking about safe and competent sailing a boat like a Wayfarer, is an engine really part of the equation? Or is it just a convenience? Nowadays I tend to lean towards the latter. After all, Frank Dye never carried an engine on his epic voyages to Norway and Iceland.

    Here is a question of conscience for a true Enlish Gentleman: If it is only “just a convenience” do we really want the trouble of carrying an engine, just to be home in time for tea?
    Luckily I am not English, that makes the choice a lot easier. We don’t have tea over here, we settle for an after sail beer instead….

    Cheers 😆

    I would say that in some respects, an engine is merely a convenience. Since you cna never entirely trust an engine, you should avoid putting yourself in a position where you rely on it. But mistakes and accidents happen! I was converted to the benefits of engines after being rescued from an uninhabited island, when my own Wayfarer became disabled and the friend who I was cruising in company with was able to tow me home. I’ve also seen the convenience of being able to rig the boat at sea with one person kleeping the boat head to wind using the engine, and the other raising the sails. Safer than trying to rig the boat whilst drifting, IMHO.

    Of course in an ideal world I would leave the engine at home. But there is the small matter of getting homebefore dark, or in time for work, or other commitments!

    #11247
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    @No Disgrace wrote:

    But there is the small matter of getting homebefore dark, or in time for work, or other commitments!

    Always turn back after 1/3 of the available time. That leaves 2/3 to actually get back. This is a rule I use when planning a voyage.
    Safety is paramount! Work, darkness and “other commitments” (sic) are often the cause of bad choices.

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