Just when I get caught up, I fall behind again. Ah well, such is life when you’re blogging for fun. But now it’s time to start catching up before it’s too late. Prepare for many posts over the next few weeks!
So where did I leave off? Oh yes, the new outboard. We have been cruising with our trusty Honda 2.3 hp outboard since we cut the docklines in 2018. While it didn’t have a ton of power, it was reliable and light enough that even I could remove it from the stern pulpit and hand it to Jeff down in the dinghy.
When we were in Big Majors, however, we were thwarted from going to shore for the first time. There was a good 20 knots of wind on the nose, the fetch was substantial with the dinghy slamming into each wave, and we weren’t even halfway there before we were thoroughly soaked. It was at that point we started kicking around the idea of a slightly larger outboard.
The pros: we could explore longer distances; when we had farther to go to shore we’d get there faster; and it would be quieter than the 2.3 hp which is air-cooled. The cons: it was heavier than our 2.3; likely less fuel efficient; and the cost. We hemmed and hawed over it for several days.
We always knew if we bought a bigger outboard it would be a two-stroke because they are substantially lighter than the same-size horsepower four-stroke. Yes, you have to mix the oil and gas but big deal. However, you can’t buy a new two-stroke outboard in the United States. But guess where you can buy one? Yep, the Bahamas.
We e-mailed Harbourside Marine in Nassau to find out what a four hp Yamaha two-stroke would cost and how to go about getting one. When we discovered that it was the same price as a four-stroke at Defender and there was no VAT on it, it was a no-brainer.
When we were ready to leave Prime Cay and return to Big Majors, we gave Harbourside the go-ahead and they delivered the outboard and a one liter jerry can to the mailboat. Of course, this being the Bahamas, they didn’t know exactly what day the mailboat would arrive. “Could be Wednesday, could be Thursday.” I tried to call the harbormaster in Nassau but she said she didn’t know and to call back later. Well alrighty then.
On Thursday we couldn’t see any mailboat, and there wasn’t one on AIS. We radioed the Staniel Cay Yacht Club who told us that it was already there. Shit! We jumped into the dinghy and took off with our mighty 2.3 hp outboard, concerned that the mailboat would leave with our outboard still on it.
But this is the Bahamas man. No hurries, no worries. We rushed for nothing. When we landed the dinghy half an hour later, I took off running for the government dock only to find the mailboat slowly being unloaded. I gave the guy with the clipboard my name, and he pointed to the outboard and jerry jug – no identification required. After signing for it and paying him $42 for the shipment, we had our new outboard.
We already had a cruiser lined up in Staniel Cay to buy our Honda, so once we had the Yamaha up and running we dinghied to their boat and sold them the Honda in exchange for some much needed cash (the only ATM in the Exumas is in Georgetown).
Jeff was very pleased to discover that we could hook up an external fuel tank (that wasn’t an option on the Honda), so we priced out the tank and hoses at $180 from Defender for when we returned to Connecticut. Then, about a week later when I was anchoring the morning Cruiser’s Net, a fellow cruiser said he was selling a three gallon external fuel tank and hoses for a Yamaha for $40. It was exactly what we needed!
I decided one of the benefits of being the anchor was that I get first dibs, so we jumped on it. Not only was it $40, but it included 2 1/2 gallons of gasoline (which runs around $6/gallon here)! We were thrilled!
So now that we’ve had the Yamaha for over a month, how do we like it? Well, we don’t like it – we love it. It’s SUBSTANTIALLY quieter than the Honda. It has a shifter so we can choose forward/reverse/idle – the Honda had one direction – forward. If you wanted to go in reverse you turned the outboard around. The fuel efficiency is much better than we expected (unless you go wide open throttle, in which case it drinks gasoline like a thirsty man drinks water in a desert). And it’s MUCH faster than the old one – easily 30% faster, and that’s not even at wide open throttle. We can actually plane on the Porta-Bote in the right conditions, and if either one of us is solo it can plane in any condition.
As we expected, the heavier weight is a drawback. The Honda was 30 pounds and this is 46 pounds, but the same Yamaha in a four-stroke is 59 pounds so it’s a lot better than that. We though we’d have to rig a block and tackle to hoist it on and off the dinghy, but Jeff is able to take it off the stern pulpit by hand, and I lower it down to him once he’s in the dinghy. Maybe if I actually did some push-ups, I’d eventually be able to take it off the pulpit myself.
Bottom line, it’s an excellent upgrade for cruising life!