There are many varieties and options of small outboards on the market today but choosing the right dinghy outboard motor for you can be difficult.
Don’t despair… By answering a few basic questions you can have a better idea of what your needs are and thus cut through the dizzying array of options to select the perfect dinghy motor.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a dinghy outboard motor
Because the outboard will be powering your dingy, its primary purpose should be to effectively transport you and your passengers safely and efficiently. To do so adequately the dinghy outboard motor does NOT need to be large or of high horse power.
Therefore, the first step wil be to determine what kind of power will be needed to propel the dingy sufficiently through the water fully loaded.
Do you want the dinghy to plane or cruise at a slower speed? Small gasoline motors that are commonly used for typical dinghies are available ranging from 2.5 horsepower to 20 horsepower and beyond.
You can eliminate the danger of overpowering by adhering to the maximum horsepower rating indicated on the dinghy’s capacity plate attached to its transom. This will also give you an indication of a mid range of power (the mid point between 2.5HP and the maximum suggested for your dinghy). Many people will find that if top speed is not a priority then an engine in the mid range or just above will provide an adequate selection.
Weight of the motor should also be a consideration when determining how to select an outboard engine for your dinghy. Are you going to have to manually mount and remove the motor often? If so then you may want to sacrifice power for ease of mobility. A 3HP outboard is much easier to lift over gunnels than a 9.9HP motor. There can be a significant range in overall weight between manufacturers and between two and four stroke models of the same horsepower. A lighter engine could also translate to less fuel consumption.
Shaft length is also important. Are you going to use the dinghy motor on another vessel besides your dinghy? For example, here are small outboards that are used as auxiliary or primary motors for larger fishing and sail boats. These can work on your dinghy but can also cause you to more easily prop strike in shallow water.
Another question to ask yourself is what kind of options do you want your motor to have?
Is an internal or external tank important to you? Do you need the range and flexibility of a larger external tank while also recognizing that a fuel spill could be problematic?
Are forward and reverse gears necessary along with electric start (usually only found on larger outboards)?
Would you prefer a two – or four-stroke motor?
How easy is it going to be to get it serviced, or service it yourself and are parts readily available?
These are just some of the questions that will help you to determine how to select an outboard for your dinghy.
Of course, if you want to open your options to other possibilities with their own positives and negatives, there are now electric motors – www.torqueedo.com – and propane motors – www.golehr.com/marine – that could serve you well. For more information check out our piece on “Have you considered an Electric or Propane Outboard Engine?”
The key to success with any engine selection is to determine your needs and limitations, tailoring your selection to fit your needs. If not, there are always the OARS!