Take the Poll — What’s the Ideal Tender Outboard?

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

If you could have the perfect outboard for your dinghy or tender, what would it be?  A diesel perhaps, because you’re already carrying hundreds or thousands of gallons of that fuel and because looking for and storing gasoline is such a pain in the neck, not to mention dangerous? I’ve long thought, for example, that Evinrude could probably make a small killing by adapting its current universal-fuel outboard for regular diesel use. It would probably get a little heavier, but since most of us are using a davit or crane of some kind already, that might not be a big problem. Size is probably the biggest current issue for small diesel outboards. Most engineering efforts, such as the Marine Engineering Group outboard in the top photo, have focused on larger, high-power units so far. But there are 20- and 30 hp diesels out there that might be adaptable. The second image is of the old Yanmar D Series, which I don’t believe is available anymore.

Marine Green Co-Founders Bill Parlatore and Howard Brooks test an early propane-powered outboard

Marine Green Co-Founders Bill Parlatore and Howard Brooks test an early propane-powered outboard

What about a propane-powered outboard? There’s at least one in development that looks promising and if you’re tanking propane for stoves or barbecue grills, it wouldn’t be much of an inconvenience to use that for the dinghy, too.

Yamaha's Current 2.5 hp Gas 4-stroke Outboard

Maybe you just want whatever is cheapest because you don’t use it enough to justify any real investment. You just want something cheap and reliable. That’s probably a two- or four-stroke gas outboard, which is relatively inexpensive and (mostly) reliable.

New Torqeedo Travel 1003 Electric Outboard

New Torqeedo Travel 1003 Electric Outboard

What about an electric outboard? Like the Torqeedo or something similar?  Lots of benefits there — low noise, zero pollution, great acceleration, and plenty of fuel since most cruisers and passagemakers have copious electrical generating capacity. Okay, some sailboats don’t and maybe for them electric isn’t a viable option.  The downside to electric? Somewhat limited range, depending on what kind of performance you require (fast or slow). Read about Torqeedo’s outboards here and here.

Whatever your thoughts are, we’d like to hear about them.  Please take just a few seconds to take the poll on our front page (lower right section, you may have to scroll down a bit). We’ll do a follow-up with the results, although you can see the results any time you’d like by clicking on the link at the bottom of the survey.

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About the Author

About the Author: Tom Tripp is the owner of OceanLines LLC, the publisher of OceanLines and founder of Marine Science Today. He is an award-winning marine journalist, science writer and long-time public communications specialist. His PR career and much of his writing stems from the fact that he loves to explain stuff. It all began when he and his brother Mark threw all of Mom's tomatoes at the back wall of the house. . . .


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  1. John Urban says:

    Tom, the ideal tender outboard? I’m not sure, but mine must surely rank among the least ideal. It’s a 2-stroke 3hp Mercury that came packaged with an inflatable. The throttle is mounted on the engine, which means you are constantly feeling around behind your back to adjust your speed. And if throttle control hasn’t caused you to flip over wait until it’s time for reverse, which is accomplished by spinning the motor around 180 degrees. The engine was inexpensive and it’s light, but if Nader was a boater he would have left the Corvair alone and deemed this little baby “unsafe at any speed.” Few owners would contest the claim.

  2. Editor says:

    John, unfortunately , I think your experience is probably typical for motors in that size class. And of course, because it’s a 2-stroke, you’re mixing gas and oil as well. While not inexpensive by any stretch, you might want to look at the electric outboards produced by Torqeedo. They’re powerful for their size, have good range (as long as you’re not cruising with your dinghy) and you fuel them by plugging them in when you’re back at the boat or dock.

  3. Mel Kaluzny says:

    Like Everything in life, the answer is it depends. If you have to hump the engine onto the dinghy like I do, a small two stoke is the answer (but getting hard to find). Mine can be steered and throttled from the handle, but there is a neutral and a spin around reverse. I had a 4HP Yamaha, 4 stroke. It was heavy and never started and did I say noisy? So much for technology.