Approaching a mooring buoy.

Today I had a long conversion with a friend of mine who is new to owning a boat. His wife lacks confidence when they approach a mooring buoy. She does not like to be up at the bow of their yacht while it is rising and falling in a rough sea. So I offered him an easy solution.

Instead of his wife being asked to pick up the mooring pick up buoy, he should go up forward. They should practice when it is calm weather, approaching the mooring into the wind with his wife on the tiller. Practice until his wife gains confidence with the process. Then once they have done it successfully several times, I am sure his wife will be far more confident in rough weather picking up a mooring.

While I am on the subject, they should also practice man overboard routines by throwing a buoy or similar over the side. His wife should steer the boat while he picks up the buoy. This will add to her confidence in handling the vessel.

Practice handling a boat is the only way to gain confidence at sea. I was fortunate that I had parents that encouraged me to handle the family boat when I was very young. Over the years I have become an expert at controlling all sorts of vessels. However, it all stemed from those early years of practising basic moves such as approaching a mooring buoy.

The next time you are out on the water, spare some time to get the family involved in some of these basic manoeuvers. Start with approaching a mooring buoy!


Security of your Outboard Engine

The security of your outboard engine is essential at this time of the season. We are well into the boating season and you have probably been using your boat and outboard plenty of times this year. However, history proves that at this time of the year complacency sets in and your normal routine of making sure everything is secure some how lapses! Get into a routine of checking everything is locked and secure before leaving your boat.
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Outboards that are not bolted to the hull need a secure lock on the mounting screws. There are several on the market that provide good strong protection against thieves. A good strong padlock will normally deter a thief. Most opportunist thieves are looking for a quick, easy theft. In other words an outboard that only needs its screws unscrewed and the motor lifted off the bracket or transom. Do not provide the thief with this opportunity. Lock your outboard or permanently fix it to your boat.

A few years ago Essex police force provided boatowners with an alternative outboard casing. This casing was marked with Essex police force lettering and effectively made the theft of the outboard useless as the thief would then need to obtain a replacement cowling casing before selling on the outboard. Most professional thieves would not go to that bother. So your outboard would be safe.

Remember, the name of the game is to make it really difficult for a thief to steal your outboard engine.  Changing the cowling, locking the mounting screws and bolting the outboard engine to the boat are all effective ways of making the thief think twice about stealing your outboard. But what if you repainted the outboard a different colour? It is no longer resellable. If you are happy with your outboard and have had it for some years why not customise it. It will certainly be a one off and less attractive to thieves!

A few years ago I had a Yamaha 15hp outboard and I decided to add another newer Yamaha alongside it. The older outboard looked tired so I repainted it. But the two still looked different. So I repainted both black. Now I know you recognise all Yamaha outboards as being blue in colour so having two black outboards was certainly different. Needless to say no attempt was made to steal them as far as I am aware. Both provided great service for many years. When it came to resell them I told the new owner of the benefits of having a black yamaha!

In this recession hit economy there are many thieves around. Make sure you are not a victim by following some of the advice above. Look for security devices on ebay or amazon and make your outboard engine thief proof.


Outboard engine for the Dinghy?

viewI need an outboard for my dinghy. Of course there are several outboard engines I could choose – Honda, Suzuki, Tohatsu or Yamaha. To name just a few. So lets look at some of these manufacturers. The Honda BF 2.3 D6 is regarded as the most lightweight 4 stroke outboard motor in the world. So if weight is the main concern you could go with this engine for your dinghy. It has other good points as well – low maintenance with transistor ignition and a forced air cooling system which eliminates the need for a water pump impellor. One other difference from other outboard motors is that it has a centrifugal clutch instead of normal gears.

However, having tried this outboard motor on the dinghy I did not like the centrifugal clutch. I found that the dinghy would move off with a sudden jerk without any real warning! The twist grip was also uncomfortable to use as was the stop button. When I wanted to remove the engine cover it was quite awkward.  Once off the engine was difficult to get at with all the plastic air cooling cowling to remove first of all. You will need to remove this stuff if you want to do a complete service yourself.

The Honda BF 2.3 pushed the dinghy along at 4.5 knots with two adults on board. The biggest disadvantage with this outboard engine was the jerky clutch – especially when going astern with the 360 degree rotation (the engine facing the other way!).

The Tohatsu FS 3.5 hp was quite a bit heavier than the Honda it was also more powerful. It seemed solidly built with a good twist grip and the accessibility for maintenance seemed good. The only disadvantages was it was more expensive than the others tested and a bit more noisier!

The Yamaha F 2.5 AMHS seemed to have the best throttle grip with the Stop button positioned right next to it. However, it seemed quite noisy compared with the other outboard engines tested. It was also less powerful than the others. Accessibility was also difficult – you have to remove the engine cover to see the oil level indicator and a bung in the lower cowling to get at the Spark plug. In fact getting at anything with this engine was fiddly. Everything seemed so packed in! Having said all the negative things – there are some good points! It has a good throttle control, stop button, choke, starter handle and gear shift. It was also one of the cheapest outboard engines I tested.

The Suzuki 2.5 hp outboard engine was my favourite! It was smooth and quiet during the test. The Suzuki had reasonable powercombined with being quite lightweight. Another advantage was the large carrying handle which made lifting it on and off the boat, easy.  It was also one of the cheapest to buy. Disadvantages were the throttle twist grip and stop button were not as good as the Tohatsu FS 3.5 HP or the Yamaha F2.5AMHS.

As with every product you consider buying there are advantages and disadvantages to weigh up. Of the four outboard engines tested I decided to opt for the Suzuki 2.5 hp.



Protecting your outboard engine.

There are several ways to protect your outboard engine from the elements as well as thieves.  All moving parts should either be smeared with grease or lubricated with a light oil. Your manual will keep you right as to the type of oil or grease to use. Properly maintaining the moving parts will certainly reduce problems which usually occur when at sea.

The other form of protection for your outboard motor is security from theft. With thousands of boats now on their moorings all over Britain, it is a thieves paradise! Please make sure your outboard is visibly secured to the boat. This can be by bolts,;chain and padlock; sliding bar and padlock or any other method that will deter thieves.

Most thieves are looking for an easy, quick way to acquire the outboard engine. Normally, they will not want to spend an hour sawing through chain links or padlocks. So make it really difficult for them! If possible rig up a light – perhaps a solar light – that can illuminate the engine during the night. Thieves do not like to work with a light shining on them! If they see this type of set up they will move onto the next boat and ignore yours.

Most of the equipment mentioned above can be bought from our store. Follow this link to our store.


Afloat! with twin engines.

Well its been a little bit later this season but finally we are afloat! Too many small jobs that needed doing delayed the launching this season. One of the not so little tasks was adding a second outboard motor to the boat. Previously on our catamaran we had a single 15 hp yamaha engine with a long shaft. Which was fine most of the time. However, my sister also has a catamaran but it is fitted with twin diesels and having been on hers when manoeuvring in the marina I just found the process so easy!

So I set about fitting twin outboards to my catamaran over the winter. There was a lot of debate about whether to change the 15 hp yamaha for a smaller engine, since I would have two outboards from now on. In otherwords, do I have two 15 hp engines or one 15 hp and another smaller, say 6 hp? Or do I have two 8 hp outboards instead? Finally, I reasoned it out. I originally bought the 15 hp outboard engine because the catamarn needed that size to power through all sorts of weather. Anything smaller was just struggling – especially in a force 6 headwind!

Two smaller outboards such as 2 x 8 hp, would both need to be going all the time when motoring in a headwind. This increases the fuel consumption as they would both be on almost maximum throttle just so the boat could make decent headway. So they were ruled out.

Keeping the 15 hp yamaha, which has proved reliable and efficient would make sense. Adding a second outboard was really just for easy movement in and out of marinas and harbours. So all I really needed was another reasonably sized outboard. That was the thinking process. However, it is not so simple. The 15 hp yamaha is electric start. You just turn the key! But an 8 hp outboard needs manual starting – pulling a cord to start! Not an easy task leaning over the stern of the catamaran! So the sensible reasoning was going out of the window as far as economics was concerned! I would need to look at a 9.9 hp outboard if I wanted electric start.

To cut a long story short I went for another 15 hp yamaha. I know it doesn’t make sense when you look at it at first, but lets consider a few things. Two matching sized engines on the stern of the cat look very good! I can now use each one alternatively. For example next week I intend using the port outboard engine when I need to, while the following week I will use the starboard engine. This will half each engines use – wear and tear so to speak. Each outboard on its own is now capable of getting me where I want to go, on its own. I only need to fire up both engines when in the confines of the marina or harbour. Ideal! Problem solved.

If you are considering fitting twin outboard engines to your boat why not visit our store to find real bargains!