When I bought Tangleberry in 2001 I determined to buy a high quality dinghy/outboard combination. I settled on an Achilles Hypalon dinghy with an air floor. That proved to be an excellent choice. It still looks new after 18 years.
I chose a Honda BF 2 outboard. Other boats around me were using RIBs with 5 to 8 HP motors, enough to get a dinghy up on plane. They also had external fuel tanks and water cooling. The big issue from my point of view was weight. The Honda 2 weighs just 27 lb. (12 Kg) which my wife and I could easily lift in and out of the boat. The bigger motors need a crane unless you are The Rock.
The Honda ran well, and pushed the dinghy at a comfortable speed using less than half throttle. It was noisy, but not unbearably so. It was unbelievably economical on fuel, running 4 hours or more on the tiny built in tank. I found room in the “garage”, our large starboard cockpit locker, to store it upright when not in use.
Now the drawbacks. It wasn’t always easy to start. There was no clutch or reverse, so as soon as it started you were off. What’s worse, you couldn’t start it at idle, it needed some throttle. There was a shutoff valve, a vent and a safety ignition cord to deal with. Forget any one and it was a no go. My wife couldn’t operate it.
We put up with the inconveniences for 18 years. During this time nothing changed. The motor still looked new, and it never needed repair, although I did have it serviced at a dealer a few times over the years. This summer it seemed harder to start, and it occasionally backfired, bruising my knuckles. Suddenly I had enough. I decided to go electric.
I started by advertising the Honda on Craigslist. It sold in one day at a good price, for use as a “kicker” auxiliary on a small fishing boat.
In the next post I’ll describe process of converting the dinghy motor to electric power in detail.