REMEMBER THE DAYS WHEN you could hear an outboard long before you could see it, and it was almost always accompanied by a blue cloud of smoke? Fortunately, for us and the environment, today’s modern outboards put those experiences in the dustbin of time. In recent years, manufacturers have been putting out
more (and greener) choices in outboards than ever before. Even traditional gas
engines meet environmental standards that were out of reach not that long ago,
and now manufacturers are adding alternative fuels to the mix.
To find out how these outboards performed, we took several of them out on a variety of
boats in Annapolis Harbor. We used three commonly available brands (Mercury, Lehr, and
Torqeedo) using three different fuels (gas, propane, and electricity), and sent them
out with boaters who had a wide range of experience. The boats we used were a
12-foot jon boat, a 10-foot rigid hull inflatable, and an 18-foot daysailer. Parts
of our testing were empirical, but we also wanted to find out the operators’
impressions of how the engines performed. As with all Foundation Findings,
THE LATEST ON ALTERNATIVE OUTBOARDS
Foundation Findings #52: Our team takes a close look at how
environmentally friendly outboard motors perform
DECEMBER 2013 | 33
we try to show how boaters will operate the
products in the real world. We aren’t trying
to pick a winner — any of these engines
could be just what you’re looking for — but
there are more considerations before you buy
than just, “How fast does it go?”
If you’ve used an outboard, chances are
it was powered by gasoline; that was the
case with all of our test drivers – mostly our
Foundation staff, and our BoatU.S. Magazine
editors. We used two different Mercury
Marine outboards, a 2.5-hp model ($899),
and a 9.9-hp ($2,239), both four-strokes.
There were differences between the two —
the smaller model has a built-in, non-remov-able fuel tank, and doesn’t have reverse gear
(you swing the engine around to back up).
The 9. 9 was considerably quieter than the
2. 5 because its exhaust runs through the
propeller hub, rather than discharging higher
up like the smaller engine.
GOOD BoatU.S. FOUNDATION FOR BOATING
FOUNDATION SAFETY & CLEAN WATER BY CHRis eDMons Ton
Gasoline engines are the industry
standard, and our drivers had high
confidence in the Mercury outboards.
Mercury Marine 9. 9 hp
WeiGHT: 84 lbs.
Fuel: 87 octane gas
Mercury Marine 2. 5 hp
WeiGHT: 40 lbs.
Fuel: 87 octane gas