One hull, ten outboards - such is our disposable world

My father has owned the same 18ft fibreglass trailer sailer for 42 years. It has had two mainsails, one new spinnaker and one new genoa … but is about to get its tenth auxiliary outboard.

The first Seagull outboard was followed by another, which had a user-friendly clutch. Then came an air-cooled Mariner 5, which should’ve come with earplugs. The Chrysler 15 was a dog that didn’t deserve to be fed – it lasted about six months.

The 42-year hull has had a lick of paint while nine outboards have come and gone.
Andrew Short Marine


The Evinrude 6s, by comparison, were great motors that gave quite a few years good service.

We bought the Yamaha 8 to share with another boat, only to have to share it with thieves.

The Johnson 4 was chosen for its light weight when Dad began to advance in years – a grandchild destroyed the gearbox by revving the motor before engaging the gear. It was replaced by another 4 that ran perfectly for six years, only to start proving unreliable last summer.

I’m just about to order a Honda 5 to replace it – we’re going 4-stroke for the first time.

I’m reminded of two things. One is the marvel of fibreglass, the hull remaining as solid as the day it was born. Second, is the fact we live in a truly disposable world.

With small motors – like whitegoods – the cost of parts and servicing soon outweighs the point of keeping it. Unless you’re a tinkerer, often you’re better off just buying a new motor with warranty.

It’s a shame, but what price do you put on reliability?
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