Comments & Tips

Celeste, #141

(ed note...#141's A4 toasted about half way through Celeste and Heather's cruise from

SF Bay to Santa Barbara, California. They pulled into Morro Bay for a quick fix and

some emial suggestions.)

After motoring down California's coast in some formidable high rollers (10 ft. + w/ bigger rogues thrown in for good measure), I can attest that a 10HP longshaft on the right bracket, our's is an adjustable Garelick, does the Triton just fine. It makes a bunch of noise when the swell becomes too steep, but all and all the performance outdid my beat A-4 which couldn't be revved to hull speed because it would quickly overheat. Also, perhaps because of the location, I found the outboard didn't upset the boat's balance as much when motorsailing. The A-4 seemed to rock us side to side more. The hype about the motor ending up out of the water 1/2 the time is just that, it's all in the bracket.

The bracket we successfully used to complete our boat relocation cruise from SF to Ventura (for the Morro Bay-Ventura legs after the A-4 went kaput) along with a Mercury 9.9 long shaft is Garelick model 71039. Go to Garelick's website at and click on the PDF download section under "products". They have a photo of the 71038 which is exactly like it, and specs. It has over 14" of vertical travel, so it can be mounted high enough on the transom to look OK, while allowing the engine to sit low in the water W/O ending up in it. Believe me when I tell you we took it for a thorough test drive, it works. (ed note: Pic's of the OB and bracket installed on #141.)

Michael Smith

It is easy to spend more money than is necessary and to over-engineer many things on sailboats.

On our Pearson Triton, we used for several years a regular stock Garlick (I think that was the manufactuerer) rated for up to 12 hp as I recall. I expect it cost considerably less than the Spartan unit which--if like their other stuff--is overpriced significantly. The mount had an adjustable rake which compensated for the signfiicant slant of the stern of the Triton. With that adjustment made and with maximum adjustment on the 8 hp Nissan which we used , the engine was perpendicular to the water.

I agree with the concern about the engine's depth. In fact, the first unit I ordered had avertised a 14" up and down travel but only had 11 inches. We returned it for another. With the 14+" up/down adjustment (and with the angle adjustment), we were quite satisfied. We later caught the diesel fever and installed a diesel at great (and needless) expense and at the loss of considerable storage space. If I were doing it again, I'd not have replaced the outboard. In fact, if the diesel (a rebuilt Farryman which we are totally satisfied with) ever breaks down significantly, I plan to return to an outboard.

We also toyed with putting the outboard in a lazarette hatch and made lots and lots of measurements. I finally realized it would have been quite easy to cut a hole in the top of the lazarette and have the starting rope and controls accessible from the front through the existing opening.

I have seen an Alberg 37 with a 5 hp outboard (yes, 5 hp) which has such an arrangement and the owners are pretty satisfied. Rather than using a complicated and expensive "well" like James Baldwin put in Atom, they merely cut a hole in the bottom (which is already significantly above the water, as it is in the Triton). Any water that comes in, washes right out. A far simpler arrangement than Baldwin's. If I went back to an outboard, I'd look carefully at doing just what they did. And I'd reduce from 8 to 5 hp, especially in view of the oomph the 5 hp Hondas and other 4-strokes have. I'm sure that would be enough and would work fine.

We put a bracket on our Triton 5 years ago but removed it 3 years ago when we installed a diesel. It was a task putting on the bracket as we did it in the water by leaning over the stern. I'd at least get a dinghy AND use a cordless drill to avoid serious hazards from shock.

The problem is the rake of the stern. We got around that by finding a bracket that had an adjustable angle in order to offset the slope of the stern. We took measurements regarding height but still had to put it on a second time since it was too high. We put it to the left of center (a political statement no doubt) since I didn't want it to cover the boat's name. Ours was a 8 hp Nissan and it was ample power. No problems at all. Had we not got the diesel fever, we'd still have it and have many thousands of dollars unspent as well.


In response to the outboard issue, you really do want to mount it very low, but how low is the question. If the boat is in the water, place the bracket so that when in the down position the plastic/wood mounting block is just above the waterline, say four to six inches or so. Make sure the engine will fit onto the bracket in the down position before you start drilling, because there may not be clearance depending on the engine position. This is actually easier to do in a quiet slip then out of the water on blocks because you're not 6 feet up in the air if you drop the engine. I mounted mine using someone's seadoo as a platform for work. Needless to say, rig a safety line to the engine. I use sheathed cable. Remember the engine almost can't be too low. Its only too low if the engine is drowning, or half the mounting plate is submerged. Its not enough to just have the prop in the water. I would also recommend you paint your engine with the clear outboard anti-fouling paint they sell. Look inside before you drill to make sure you don't drill through that support beam!!

Greg, #277, Aliya

Our long motor trip through the Erie Canal was made possible with a 10 hp outboard hung off the stern (with a home made bracket). The finest moment was during a tight quarters maneuver (under outboard power) when I soundly planted the bow square on the concrete bulkhead at lock 13 ! This all took place with my beloved crew standing amidships telling each other "He going to hit it !" . Lesson learned: Turning radius increases by many feet while under power with a outboard! A few paint chips off the bow was our only damage.

Don Tyson, #20

I used an 8hp short shaft to push #20 from Trenton NJ to Arnold MD (two and a half days) . It moved me along quite briskly. I was quite pleased exept during a severe t-storm when it frequently went under but came up running. I used a retractable motor mount such those used on trailer-sailers. I purchased it at west Marine for around a hundred dollars. While on route with my maiden voyage I noticed that the boat was much more tender than when I bought it 3years ago and that the water-line was 2-3" higher. Did anyone else experience this and how did you deal with it?

Samuel Herman

I would like to add my experience to this question. I was looking for a Triton when I found my 29' columbia defender. It had no engine, so I decide just to mount an outboard. I used a 9.9 Nissan outboard. I had no real sailing experience when I launched. I took it straight down the ICW from Fairport, Vi to Marathon, Fl. It pushed me at 6 to 7 mph at about 3/4 throttle. I tried to get out on open water at Charleston, SC,

The were 4' waves, wind out of the NE at about 10knots. When I left the break water, I had to stay in the channel the waves hitting me on the beam beat the hick out of me. The motor was reving up telling me it was almost coming out to the water. Turning around and heading back into the harbor against the tide I was able to do only about 1knot, believe me I was praying. But all the way down to Marathon it never missed a beat. I have sail/motored across the falorida bay from Marathon to Ft Meyers three times and have had no problems. The 9.9hp motor did find but having a 15hp going against the tide would be good. You would need to decide now many times that will happen during the life of your sailing. Would just planning your departures/arrivals could take care of this.

The good part of outboards is the access to them. They are easier to work on, you can raise them out of the water, or take them off, but the down side is the weight at the stern, which I would guess changes the balance of the boat alittle. Hope this helps you.

Debbie, Patience

I have a 8hp Honda longshaft which seems more than adequate - of course, only in relatively flat water! The mounting seems rather important - I got a long-throw spring-loaded motor mount to get it as low as possible in the water and to make it easy to pull it back up. I mounted it a few inches below the rail towards the starboard side (to leave room for my windvane) I have experienced no problems with this offset, though others claim the port side is better... I just didn't want to hang out too far when using the outboard to assist with a starboard turn (the throttle is on the port side). Mine is a 4-stroke, which I like for environmental and noise-reduction reasons, but if you'll be going for long periods where the engine just sits, I'd consider a 2-stroke... they start right up! Good luck.

James, #384

Once the lazarette is made into a sealed watertight compartment with a drain and shut-off valve in the bilge you can store your gas cans there.

Which brings me to some recent threads on outboard motors. On last years trip along the ICW I used a 6 HP 4-stroke long-shaft Nissan and kept the 3 gal gas tank in the lazarette which worked fine. We could motor at near 5 knots in a calm and had reasonable ability to stem a current in choppy water. A 6hp motor is the largest size you can lift off the bracket and store in a cockpit locker. Even the 6 is difficult enough to handle. The 2-stroke is lighter and good enough for short distance motoring. I experimented with a 10hp motor once on Atom and though it could power through just about anything it was way too heavy to move and store. The 3.5hp is ideal for portability if you can accept the limited performance of about 3.8-4 knots boat speed and very little power against a chop.

Once the inboard is out, you can then seal the other cockpit lockers as well to prevent flooding and small gear dropping into the bilge. That also ends the concern over the cockpit drain plumbing since each drain is enclosed within its sealed locker.

The advantages of having an inboard engine are obvious, but if you've decided you can do without it, you open up all sorts of possibilities for customizing the boat to suit your needs. Don't expect to find the perfect motoring system. Just choose which set of problems bother you the least.

Steve Uhthoff

I used an outboard on sailboats for years in Florida including cruising the Bahamas with one. Here are a few thoughts about it.

They do a good job in fairly calm water but have some problems in rough water because they stick out so far on the transom that they come out of the water or get buried below the water. It's a strange sight to see the motor actually go below the surface and come up still running.

Because the shrouds on most motors are pretty good, they usually don't get flooded out when that happens but they aren't the best thing for going in and out of a rough inlet because of that.

If you go with the motor, a long shaft 10hp, preferably four cycle would probably work best. I strongly recommend a Yamaha. If it was me though, I would stick with an inboard. A small diesel is best.

Kevin Cronin

I recently removed my A4 and installed an outboard with an extra long shaft on an adjustable bracket. While I had some concerns about dunking the motor or having the prop repeatedly come out of the water, neither happened. For example, very large wakes and rough weather never dunked the motor.

I agree with the statement that four strokes are generally a better option, but I decied to go with a two stroke. The decision was based on saving a few bucks and a few pounds. The lighter two stroke is much easier to manhandle and provides more options for mounting (I could not find any adjustable (up/down) bracket that could be pivoted to account for the transom angle).

I bought the remote shift and throttle, but I have not needed it. I sit on the poop deck and can easily reach the outboard when I need to adjust the throttle or steer with the outboard. Otherwise, I leave the outboard controls alone.

I chose a Tohatsu 9.8 and have been very happy with it. If you decide on a Tohatsu I can give you a great deal on the remote controlls!

One final note. I was concerned about charging, but I found that the alternator was great. (I don't use that much electricity).

Ginius Macys, #196, Ostia

I have also jumped on the wagon of dumping my A4 and installing an outboard. I have owned Ostia #196 and sail L.Erie for the past 4 seasons. During that time, I have been constantly wrestling with the engine. When I would finally get it to run right, after two to three sails, it again would sputter, spit, choke and worst of all, stink up the saloon. I can deal with a rough engine but, when it is not running perfectly, the damned thing would spit just enough fuel so it would stink up the interior with a fuel smell. So after getting the engine to run right, I would spend many efforts to remove the stink...afterwards, the engine would start misbehaving, the cycle starts all over again. So, during this winter lay up, the A4 is being removed and a new Mercury 9.9 (4 stroke) will be installed. I will have pics when I have the project complete.

--Following Information Provided 109/15/07--

We've owned hull #196 Ostia for five years. This classic lady has performed over and above expectations. Like a lot of us, when we reach a certain age, some of our parts do not always function like we expect. In Ostia's case, it always been the A-4. In my history, the A-4 either runs and purrs like a kitten or sputters and wheazes like an over age over weight cat ... even at times within the same trip it will run great and sputter and die at the most critical point. And when it sputtered, it would stink up the boat with fuel smell. I have rebuilt and replaced carburators. ...gone to electronic ignition, replaced wires, gone through dozens and dozens of spark plugs and have never had he A-4 run consistently. I even enjoy working on old engines but unfortunately, the accessiblity has made it a huge pain just do some routine maintenance. So, after much research and comparing the cost to rebuilding the A-4, replace with diesel, or dump the inboard and go outboard, I've decided to go with the outboard.

So during last winter, out went the A-4. Sealed up the intake and exhaust .. removed the shaft and sealed up the opening. Reinforced the transom installed a Mercury 9.9 - 4 stroke with a remote throttle and trans control., electric start with alternator. Installed the motor on a Garlick mount, Created a sealed box with vent to outside in the port locker for the fuel tank.

Of course, I expect differences in handling etc. So, after a season with the outboard, the following are my impressions:

1.) The foul fuel stink from the A-4 is gone...My cushions and foul weather gear finally do not stink like an old gas station.

2.) New outboard starts easily with the electric start and if/when needed the manual pull start is a great backup.

3.) Under power, the turning radius is twice the space than with inboard.

4.) There is no prop walk in reverse. Or if there is .. it is so minor, that it doesn't count.

5.) It never really steared well in reverse before... it is definitely less responsive than before.

6.) A 9.9 does have enough power to bring the Triton to hull speed. About 3/4 throttle

7.) Braking (using reverse) is considerably less effective. Much more thought and planning is needed during docking.

8) For the most part, the prop stays in the water in choppy conditions. But if there is only two of us on board, and the crew goes up forward, the stern will lift up and the prop climbs out. If a third crew is onboard (even a light person) and stays with me in the cockpit, the prop stays in the water.

I did not compensate for less weight of the A-4 and larger fuel tank. I tend not to store junk in the boat, I notice the waterline is higher. The loss of weight has no noticeable effect while sailing. But, I feel I need to add a couple of hundred pounds of ballast in the rear. I will try this next season.

Overall grade is a B. Would I replace the A-4 with an outboard again? Definitely yes. The reliability and ease of maintenance out weighs the dissadvantages.

Larry, #619, Coos Bay, Oregon

My Tohatsu 4cycle ultra long shaft (25") 6hp arrived in "good order" from via Fed Ex freight.

A couple comments:

I got out my magnet and went to checking hardware on the motor and tank hose etc. and was pleasantly surprised to see the Japanese manufactured motor used stainless steel on all hardware on the outside of the motor except the prop shaft. I have not opened up the inside and checked it as of yet.

The red heavy plastic tank and hose interconnect by pneumatic hardware and the 3 plus gallon take has a fuel gauge. I am going to contact onlineoutboards and see about getting a back up tank and hose.

The motor with the 25" long shaft will place the prop about 4 inches above the center of the where the inboard shaft exited the hull. This is just an estimate at this time. The total motor height is 50.2 inches. and total weight is 59 lbs. So far I am pleased.

Dana, #99

Portable "red" tanks are for "above deck" use only. These tanks are made from a thin wall plastic material that is not vapor tight. Gas vapors will permeate the walls of portable red tanks. Also, there is no provision for remote venting- the gas cap is the vent - and any vapor that escapes will be trapped below decks- very dangerous.

"Below decks" tanks are made from heavy wall, cross-linked, polyethylene material, pressure tested to Coast Guard & ABYC standards.

If you plan to mount a portable tank above decks, out in the open- no problem. Portable tanks should never be used or stored in any enclosed space.

Marine suppliers like West Marine have listed in their catalogs a variety of "above deck" and "below deck" style tanks- you should have no problem in finding a proper "below decks" tank- if that is your plan.

Good luck and be safe.

Samuel Herman

I am a columbia 29' defender owner. When I put an outboard on my boat I added three layers of 3/8 plywood to the transom. I used the existing gas tank on the boat for the outboard. I carried three 5 gallon cans (topside) plus the 3.5 tank that came with the motor. I could have travel all the way from Fairport, Va to Marathon, Fl with only one stop, if it wasn't for having to dump my portpottie. G0 with the 25 inch motor, I mounted it on the centerline of the boat, the only problem with that is I cann't figure how to mount a self steering vane. Good luck.

Jim Pollock, #460, Guesto

I use a older Yamaha 9.9 long shaft high thrust outboard. I think it is allot more power then I really need in nice weather on the Great lakes. The below Garelick mount is good. But had we had a small problem with ours and it bent under the combined thrust / weight of the engine and a quick turn to starboard to avoid debris in the water. I have been searching for a newer smaller engine and found out that the Tohatsu engines up to 20hp are made by the same manufacture as a mercury and Nissan just different stickers. Palsteeka ( spelling is close) had an aluminum bracket bent to support his out board. I bought a Gracket bracket the 90 model because it will support up to a 30 hp engine but does not allow for our transom angle so i am having a piece of 1/4 stainless steel bent to support it..

Debbie Weeks

I had a new 8HP Honda 4-stroke long-shaft with a heavy Garlick swing motor mount. Plenty of power to push a Triton around SF Bay; I only used it to get in and out of my slip and once when there was no wind. BUT even though it was mounted as low as possible and swung down to the lowest position, the prop did not stay below the water line in ocean swell, making it unusable under these conditions. (It would stall, possibly due to cavitation.) Also, while 4-strokes are cleaner and quieter, they do not 'like' to sit unused, so unless you plan to run it at least once a week, I'd get a 2-stroke. 2-Stroke also tend to be lighter, a consideration when storing and installing (the spring-loaded swing mount made the weight of the motor less of an issue when raising and lowering the motor.) Be cautious of 'over-powering' as the higher HP weigh more (I could handle my 75lb 8HP because I'm big and stubborn - the next size up, a 90lb 9.9HP, would've been a challenge.)..

James Baldwin, #384, Atom

I just added some photos and description of an outboard well that was built by Fernando on his Triton Pajaro: http://atomvoyages. com/articles/ pajaro.htm.)..

Harry James, #144, Tales

I can't remember if I put up the figures on Tales outboard use. I can tell that it is lighter in the stern, I put in four 6 volt golf cart batteries where the engine used to be but it isn't the same. I am way over batteried. I installed a 6 hp Tohatsu 20" long shaft. No wind I get 5.1 kts. 4.9 towing the dinghy. I run it at about 3/4 throttle. I have been getting 14 hours plus out of a 6 gal tank. I have the charger on the outboard and it will carry the Tiller pilot and an old Itronix 6250 and end up with a little excess. It has some vibration because it is single cylinder.