I went to a free semiar this morning at Marathon Boat Yard. The subject was outboard motor maintenance. After listening to that, my conclusion is that we should not own one. The short reason is that we don't use it enough, to justify the maintenance that I should put into it.
For the first 5 years that we cruised, we had no outboard. Only occasionaly did we miss it. Once in a while I realized that we could explore places by dinghy with a motor that would be too far away to row. (By the way, I believe that the previous owner of Tarwathie never had a motor either.)
Since then, we had three motors. First a Mercury 2-stroke. I had a hard time keeping that running. And the starting pull rope was too tought for Libby. She couldn't start it. Then carrying a motor not started make rowing even harder for her. We got into the difficulty of removing the motor for Libby to use the dinghy and putting the motor back for dick to use the dinghy.
Next, we bought a brand new Honda 2HP engine when cruising with Nick in Maine. Libby couln't start that one either. Twice that engine got submerged in the water. The motor survived the dunkings fine, but the centrifugul clutch was destroyed. It was too expensive to fix, so I threw it in the trash.
Two or three years ago we bought a new Yamaha 2HP engine. I bought it in anticipation of a visit by Jen because I thought it would make it easier for her while she was here. We selected the Yamaha because the strength needed to pull the starter rope was less than other brands. Libby can start it.
Since then, I've had trouble keeping it running. Last year we paid Alex (the local handyman who can fix anything) three times to clean the carberator. Before leaving Marathon after the last cleaning it quit again. Since then, it has not been used once.
At the seminar, I heard our instructor Tommy say, "If you leave the outboard sitting 6 months or more without use, it won't run until the carb is cleaned. No preventative measures will help that."
So, I could pay to get the motor running today, but in a couple of months we'll leave Marathon and the motor will sit unused until next winter.
I face the prospect of spending nearly one hour of maintenance per hour of use with a gasoline motor.
We like rowing. Rowing helps keep us in shape. Libby in particular needs the upper-body and back strength training, and rowing is the ideal exercise.
On the rare occasions when rowing is unsuitable, perhaps an electric trolling motor would suit us better.