January 16, 2017 Hours spent building to date: 3,261
There is no decision that has taken more research or created more comments from people who have seen this boat than the choice of an engine.
On one of the spectrum was designer Mark Smaalders suggesting that a 60-70 horse four-stroke would accomplish the boat’s mission just fine. On the other end were those who owned or had been around a glass fishing boat of about this size: “What are you going to hang on that baby — a 150, maybe twin 100’s?”
My initial thoughts were very much in Mark’s direction. I have been traveling over the water in sailboats at 6 knots for well over 30 years. If I could get the Tardis to move 10 knots that would seem like flying. And although I have built very strong, a big engine pounding the boat into square Long Island Sound waves is just not a good idea. So a good old Yahama 70 four-stroke, the workhorse outboard of the world, was my initial choice.
But then I started building and adding weight. The cruising displacement of this boat is 4,750 pounds. With the fridge, extra tankage, fancy trim, bow thruster, etc. I estimate I’m at around 5,250. So I need 10 more horses right there. But the 4-stroke 75-90 engines really start to get heavy (350-400 pounds), and Mark’s design brief clearly stated that adding weight at the back of the boat was to be avoided. Then my neighbor Tom Tolla got a couple of gigantic Evinrude E-Tec G2’s for his Grady-White 30 and was extremely happy with them. And it seems that the wooden-boat design community for this type of boat (Doug Hylan, Sam Devlin, Tolman skiffs) are all going Evinrude two-stroke engines for several reasons; a 90 weights 320 pounds, fuel and emissions efficiency is best-in-class, and they are remarkably quiet (I rode in an E-Tec powered boat a couple years ago and would have sworn it was a four-stroke).
The final factor leading to the E-Tec 90 was installation and service. There are dozens of yards around here doing Yamaha’s and Suzuki’s and Mercury’s, but they all seem small: 10 engines a year? I’ll tell you about it as it happens, but I really needed somebody to help me with a fairly sophisticated installation and steering setup given that this is a totally custom boat. Atlantic Outboard is the biggest E-Tec dealer in New England and they sell hundreds of engines per year. Paul Cusson the owner really seems to understand what I am trying to do with this boat. So after hours of measuring I determined that an E-Tec 90 would fit within the space allotted (by about a 1/4-inch, but I have since found that there’s quite a bit of wiggle room).
I did not think of doing this without checking with Mark. Here’s his take: