05 September 2008

New Outboard

No, our outboard's engine oil is not supposed to be a milky, frothy white. But this is what the dipstick looked like when the engine wouldn't stay running 2 weeks ago. So we pulled the engine off the boat and brought her home.

I flushed the engine oil and ran it for a few minutes in a large bucket on the driveway, and sure enough, it turned white again. That means there is water getting into the oil somewhere. Probably a blown head gasket.

But it's already September, and I don't have time to rebuild the engine. In reviewing the summer, we lost about 5 weeks of sailing due to this outboard, and had a few other stressful trips when it took a long time to get started. So we decided to buy a new one, and save the overhaul job for sometime this winter. After some research on the Catalina Owners' site I decided to get a Tohatsu 9.8 from OnlineOutboards. Lots of guys have had great experiences with the Tohatsu outboards and in dealing with the guys at OnlineOutboards.

One week later I was sitting in an all day work meeting, when my wife sent me this picture on her cell phone. Now how am I supposed to concentrate at work when such a large box is beckoning on the driveway at home?!

It was like Christmas morning except it was September, hot outside, no snow, and no wrapping paper. I spent about half an hour reading through the manual so I fully understood the break-in procedure for the new motor, then we headed to the marina. My #2 son and I put the motor on, filled it with oil, and got it running. Tohatsu make a great engine. It was whisper-quiet, and idled at rpm's so low that the old outboard would have coughed, wheezed, and gagged at.

I am not sure who was happier, the skipper or the admiral. There was no way she could have started the old outboard! But this Tohatsu is electric start, and very simple to use. The admiral took us in and out of the marina that night, and was quite comfortable knowing that a new outboard wouldn't cut out on us as we neared the rocky shores. In the picture on the left you can see the Tohatsu quietly doing it's job in the background.

Someone had posted in a discussion group that having a reliable outboard took half the stress out of their sailing trips. We wholeheartedly endorse that claim!

Winds were about 10 knots all evening, and we really enjoyed the sailing. There were 5 or 6 other boats out on that area of the lake, racing back and forth in the wind and plowing through the small waves. A beautiful night! The kids enjoyed relaxing down below. We decided to just fly the storm jib that night, because we had never flown it before. Although it was far too little sail for the conditions, it was good to know it was in good shape, and get a feel for how it handled.

The water level are dropping now, and we don't lower the keel until we're almost all the way out of the harbor. Todd Frye, a fellow Catalina 25 swing keel owner, dock neighbor, and sailing instructor, gave me a valuable tip - the keel only needs to be raised 25 turns in order to clear everything getting in and out of the harbor. This made our #3 happy, because her job is now easier!

With school starting, the kids are all back into reading. It seems like every one of them is hauling a book of some kind out on each sailing trip. I need to build a library of good nautical novels for them to read out there. I'm not sure if I'm thinking of the kids, or myself, because with that new Tohatsu, I might even get a chance to crash with a good book once in a while!

The mosquitoes were out in force when we got back to the marina, so everyone made a mad dash for the suburban while #3 and I tied up the boat, stowed the jib and closed up the boat.

The sunset was fantastic. It just kept getting prettier and prettier. If it wasn't for the fact that the mosquitoes were so thick that you could chew them, we would have lingered longer on the docks!


  1. I bought a Tohatsu (also from online outboars) - great motor. Running strong for 3 years now. Have fun with it!

  2. Nice set up... I have the Nissan 8hp (same as Tohatsu) that I bought from OnlineOutboards.com in 2005 and it has been great. Very reliable and very good on gas. I am using the 20" and my only regret was not getting the 25" shaft for my Catalina 25. The 20" works good but the 25" would be better in heavy seas.