boating wish lists

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

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.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Engines, Gear & Apparel, Powerboats, Sailboats, Technology

Torqeedo Ups the Horsepower for Electric Outboard

Earlier this year I wrote a Wish List item about the advantages of a single, common fuel for all marine engines; the issue being the need to carry gasoline for a tender wile operating an otherwise diesel-powered boat.  There may be another option and that is the one provided by Torqeedo, manufacturer of an innovative line of electric-powered outboards.  The company’s latest offering, the Cruise 4.0 R has a thrust equivalent to a 9.9 hp gas outboard, which makes it a good power match for an inflatable or light RIB up to about 11 feet or so, depending on your need for speed.

Torqeedo Cruis 4.0 R Electric Outboard -- Photo: Torqeedo, Inc.

Torqeedo Cruis 4.0 R Electric Outboard -- Photo: Torqeedo, Inc.

Torqeedo motors utilize a special onboard computer that includes an integral GPS.  This allows the system to display not only speed, but time and distance remaining on available charge.  This information is presented on the remote throttle display.  The motor uses a special 48 volt lead-gel, AGM battery bank or two high-performance lithium manganese batteries.  The company says the Cruise 4.0 R achieves an efficiency of more than 50 percent, which is significantly higher than most electric propulsion motors.

While we think the Cruise 4.0 R is a great alternative for a passagemaker who doesn’t want to deal with finding and carrying good gasoline, Torqeedo also suggests the motor is a good  choice for boats on “green” lakes, pontoon boats, sailboats and catamarans.  In fact, the company tested the new model on a “well-stocked, 24″ pontoon boat with 25” pontoons and seven people aboard — achieving a speed of 6.1 mph.

The motor is not cheap, with a suggested retail price of $3,699, although it likely has a much more competitive total cost-of-ownership when you consider the cost of gas and oil and the maintenance requirements of reciprocating engines used in salt water.  The Torqeedo unit comes with a cable set, fuse, main switch, remote throttle, magnetic off/on switch and a link-arm for connecting to standard steering systems.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Technology

New Series: “The Wish List”

Ed. Note — If you’ve been boating for any length of time you’ve no doubt begun to accumulate some fairly specific ideas about the best way to do something aboard a boat, or the right way something should be designed or built, or perhaps even the way a service should be provided.  We’re not immune from that syndrome just because we’re journalists, although we do try to keep it under control when reporting news.  Periodically though, even journalists have to vent a little bit and we thought this new series would be a good chance for us here at OceanLines to share with you our personal “wish lists” for all things boating-related.  But here’s the deal; we will if you will.  We’d like to hear from you about the boats, products, services and technology that YOU think should be “standard.”  Leave us your own wish list items in the comments and we’ll collate them into a story so everyone can see them.

I flipped a coin and decided that (however it landed) I would go first (editor’s privilege).  So here is the first one from my personal wish list.  I have too many to bore you with in just one posting here so I’ll split them up and we’ll call it “a series.”  Remember, I need YOUR comments and wish lists.  There’s nothing like unsolicited product input to turn the heads of the product development people out there…

 

Universal Fuel It’s time we standardized on one all-purpose marine fuel, just like the U.S. Navy did in recent years. 

If you own a diesel passagemaker, you already know what a pain it is to have to manage that nasty gasoline for the outboard on the dinghy.  You’ve already got lots of diesel aboard — sometimes thousands of gallons of it — a nice stable, relatively safe fuel.  It has a high flash point (>125°F); won’t burn in open air at anything less than 494°F or so, and these types of fuels are becoming easier to make in “bio-form” from sustainable resources; like algae.   For reference, gasolines have a higher autoignition point but a MUCH lower flash point; typically around -45°F, and flowing gasoline can easily be ignited from self-generated static electricity.

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS George Washington receives JP-5 fuel while underway.  Photo:

U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier USS George Washington receives JP-5 fuel while underway. Photo: Specialist Seaman Christopher S. Harte

In the case of the U.S. Navy, they standardized on another kerosene-based fuel, JP-5 and even got BRP-owned Evinrude to make an E-TEC 2-stroke outboard, the MFE (Multi-Fuel Engine) that would run on it.  Actually, that outboard will run on almost anything, at least for a short time.  As one Evinrude representative put it to me, “if people are shooting at you, we don’t want you worrying about what’s in the fuel tank.”  The Evinrude is also submergible, which suits special forces units, like the Navy SEALs, perfectly.  The Evinrude MFE is available to consumers through Evinrude dealers.  The MFE will run on kerosene, aviation fuels (JP-4, JP-5, JP-8, Jet-A and Jet-B), and standard gasoline. These fuels are available from commercial sources worldwide. The engine’s fuel selection can be changed with the simple flip of a switch, without compromising performance.

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

A Maritime Engineering Group Vision Diesel Outboard

Another possibility is the Maritime Engineering Group’s Vision line of turbo diesel outboards.  It seems to be still in development, and the initial units are probably too big for use as tender/dinghy motors, but it might be a start.  You can see their work on the MEG website.

Yanmar used to make a series of diesel outboards, but they have not been available for several years now.  They were known as the D-series outboards, and probably the most popular was a 36 HP outboard, shown in the picture below.

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

Yanmar D-Series Diesel Outboard

The standardization on JP-5, which was driven by the requirement for the Navy’s aircraft carriers to carry mllions of gallons of it for use in jet aircraft, allows that service to simplify its logistics and safety procedures.  Saved a lot of money, too.  In fact, the entire Defense Department has a standardized fuels initiative that will have all services using a limited number of fuels by next year.

So let’s press our own marine propulsion manufacturers to agree on a standardized fuel; preferably a 100% biofuel, produced sustainably (not from petroleum), and get to work on designing and building engines in all power and weight classes to use it.  Modern diesels can be powerful, lightweight and virtually pollution-free using state-of-the-art filtering and catalyst technology.  With a standard fuel, we can simplify marine fuel logistics down the entire chain; from refinery to fuel dock to fuel tanks aboard our boats.  We’ll have a single, safer, environmentally responsible fuel and life will be simpler. Oh yeah; did I forget to mention that insurance rates for boaters and marinas would go down, too?

Comments?

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology