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Outboard powered cruising boats

Outboard Powered Cruising Boats

Outboard powered cruising boats

I have watched with fascination the proliferation of larger outboard-powered boats. Of course outboard power has been a mainstay in smaller craft up to 25 feet for years in single and twin applications. However, what started as a trickle 5-7 years ago has grown into a flood of “I’ve got one too” situation for many builders of larger boats. As larger and more powerful outboards have been developed now topping 600hp from Seven Marine and Yamahas 425hp XTO, the launch of larger and larger outboard-powered craft has grown. Boats as large as 50 feet with up to six motors are not an uncommon sight at marinas today. There can be no doubt that the latest outboard motors are efficient and reliable and offer many positive attributes to boats. If higher speed is a consideration or freeing up space below decks is desired, an outboard powerboat should be considered. This is most often seen on center console and dayboat styles.

However, recently the market has moved into the cruising domain. Boats that were traditionally powered by sterndrives, inboards both gas and diesel are showing up at boat shows with two or more outboards hung on the back. While an outboard may be more efficient than a straight shaft or v-drive inboard, it has little to offer over a traditional gas sterndrive. Recent offerings in the gas sterndrive market offer modern technology and reasonable efficiency. The light recreational diesels available today either through a sterndrive or inboard, offer far superior fuel economy and longevity.
There are also additional disadvantages to cruising boats with outboards that may not be apparent to first-time buyers of this type of boat. Having two or more large outboards hung on your transom makes it impossible to carry a dinghy on your swim platform. Additionally, many cruising destinations have stern-to docking. When a boat is backed in against the quay, it is quite difficult to leave and board the boat with outboards. I have observed many boaters attempting to board an outboard-powered boat by stepping on the motors and then to the boat. At best this awkward and challenging, at worst dangerous as I have seen people slip and fall, hit the outboard and then fall in the water.

Is this a trend, or a passing fad? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

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