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    Dave Barker

    I know the subject of outboards and brackets seems to come up very frequently, but having witnessed a potentially very serious incident recently I feel I must say something about this.

    Particularly for those that sail on their own please make sure that you mount your engine in such a way that you can either turn it off or at least put it out of gear should you find yourself unexpectedly in the water. Perhaps the kill-cord could be led to a position where it can be reached and pulled from outside the boat? (Theoretically we should be attached to the kill-cord, but I know that is unlikely to happen for the most part).

    Climbing back into a moving boat is hard enough without having to negotiate an industrial strength food blender just below the waterline.


    Hi Dave
    Good safety point. However as a point of interest re. engine choice my first outboard only had a kill button and no neutral gear. When I had to get a second outboard I was really pleased to get one with a neutral as drifting in a strong current trying to start an outboard in limited space is not a good idea. It still does not have a kill cord though (though as you say they don’t get used so often).
    cheers Dave


    Interesting point that surely proves just how essential it is to use the kill cord. First thing I did with mine was attach 2m of shock cord onto it and then make sure its always used no exceptions. Dont fancy that industrial strength whatsit at all.



    Having completed my RYA Power Boat Level 2 and Safety Boat courses at my sailing club, kill cords are a necessary safety feature as each instructor had some gory story to tell about power boat driver falling over board and the boats spinning full circle and ruunning them over.

    It isn’t easy in a Wayfarer when a relatively small outboard is set so far back from the helms position.

    I went for the same option of a long length of shock cord, seems to work ok so far. Just attach to bouyancy aid or round your leg with enought length to move around the boat but would easily kill the motor if you went overboard.

    W3035 Bramble


    Hi Peter and Jonathon
    Just to elaboarate the point I was making is neither outboard I bought for the Wayfarer has a killcord option and I’m sure many in use don’t. I don’t fancy the blender either but nor have I ever felt in danger of the prop. I think the most important practical safety feature is to be able to put the motor in neutral and only have responsible operators using them (I would not fancy trying to knock an outboard out of gear from the water either).
    PS Perhaps I should add that I have had issues with the kill button when I have not pushed it in long enough and the motor has fired up in forward gear when I was not prepared so a kill cord would be an improvement. However I also have used an outboard with a kill cord and nearly broken the rusty ring linking the kill cord, so putting the motor into neutral is good practice (as well as having a sound kill cord), and also allows you to restart the power easily if you need to, as opposed to refitting the kill cord “key”, which can be a fiddle.



    I have recently purchased a 3HP Johnson outboard second hand. It is quite old but runs fine. It has no kill cord facility just a button – but does have a neutral gear.

    Any safety tips?

    Martin (Samphire)


    Hi Martin
    Probably the biggest real safety issue when sailing with the outboard is not fouling the mainsheet gybing and capsizing.
    But I think with reference to the kill button just press it and hold it in long enough to know the engine is dead. Perhaps experiment once by doing a quick stab of the kill button and hear it stutter back into life, just to realise it can do it. Unless you are approaching shallows it is always a calmer approach to switch your engine off at leisure once it is already idling in neutral.

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