There are many cruising boats who simply don’t take a dinghy along – the reasons are pretty standard: First it’s just something else to break down. Second it’s good exercise to have to row, and finally it’s cheaper not to have to maintain it and buy the fuel. However, if you take the soft option and insist on having a motor, which size is ideal?… and Why?
The answer will be different for every crew, but the issues are always the same:
Small motors are cheaper and use less fuel of course, but in addition they are lighter and easier to handle, and also make the dinghy easier to drag up a beach.
However, in a strong wind or current, it can be difficult to make way, and of course, every journey takes longer. Many people who start with a very small motor upgrade to a larger one, and many who start with a large motor wish they had a smaller one. Another issue is that the larger the motor, the more attractive it is to thieves. On Blackwattle, after traveling with two motors for a long time, we reckon that an 8 horsepower motor is about right for a 3-4 metre dinghy – you won’t win the dinghy Olympics, but neither will you be going backwards in a strong wind or current.