The days of the one-boat family have gone the way of the one-car garage. Many yachtsmen have embraced the fleet concept, owning a larger boat for cruising and feeding their passion for evening outings in the harbor, late-afternoon waterskiing and morning fishing trips with center consoles, RIBs and runabouts.
Outboards power many of these small boats, and new federal emissions standards are changing the way motors are designed and built. To meet regulations, outboard manufacturers for the most part are choosing from two basic mechanical strategies: four-stroke and direct-injected two-stroke, both cleaner than carbureted two-strokes.
Much of the buzz in the past couple of years has been about quieter four-strokes, with several higher-horsepower models coming to market. Here's a look at the new crop of four-stroke outboards to feed your small-craft cravings.
Honda Marine recently announced a V-6 225 with variable valve timing. The so-called VTEC system homogenizes power for smooth performance through all rpm. The motor also features Honda's Variable Intake System, which uses a butterfly valve to optimize intake air flow based on engine speed. An on-demand 60-amp alternator should keep small boats powered up.
Displacement is 3.5 liters from a 60-degree V-6 block running a single overhead cam. A feature Honda calls a 4-Front Corrosion Protection System addresses longevity and the intrusion of salt with a patented paint process, sacrificial anodes and stainless-steel components.
Retail price for the F225: $17,400. Honda Marine, (800) 915-2624, (678) 339-2600; fax (678) 339-2654; www.honda-marine.com.
Bombardier announced last fall that it would begin marketing a number of four-strokes under the Johnson brand. It will continue to market an improved version of OMC's Ficht direct-injection system under the Evinrude brand. Scheduled to hit the showrooms this spring, some of the Johnson units will be produced by Suzuki. The 70 is a single overhead cam, four-cylinder, 79.2-cubic-inch setup designed to run full-throttle between 5200 and 5800 rpm. Multiport sequential fuel injection is responsible for fuel delivery, and a two-stage cooling system keeps operating temperatures where they need to be.
Retail price for the 70 hp: $8,360. Bombardier Motor Corp. of America, (262) 884-5392; www.johnson.com.
Mercury Marine has four new electronically fuel-injected models from 30 to 60 hp, and they are compatible with Merc's SmartCraft electronic monitoring system. Design points of note include a single overhead cam, a lightweight intake manifold and advanced iron valve guides.
The 30 and 40 hp models displace 45.6 cubic inches, have a 6-amp alternator and weigh 204 pounds apiece; the 50 and 60 hp models displace 60.8 cubic inches, weigh 236 pounds each and carry 15-amp alternators. Retail prices for the 30, 40, 50 and 60 start at $4,109, $4,393, $5,652 and $6,159. Mercury Marine, (800) MERCURY; www.mercurymarine.com.
Marubeni Engine and Power Corp. distributes in the United States under the Nissan and Tohatsu brands, each with new 25 and 30 hp engines. The difference is operating range: 5000 to 6000 rpm, and 5250 to 6250 rpm.
A cross-flow-design cylinder head sits atop a three-cylinder block. An oil pressure warning system is audible, as well as visible. A three-year limited warranty is standard.
Retail price for the 25 and 30 hp Nissans: $3,199 and $3,681. Prices for the 25 and 30 hp Tohatsus: $3,134 and $3,607. Marubeni Engine and Power Corp., (972) 323-6003; fax (972) 323-5277; www.nissanmarine.com; www.tohatsu.com.
Suzuki's new four-stroke is an in-line four-cylinder that displaces 124.7 cubic inches, weighs 410 pounds and has a two-stage cam drive and an offset drive shaft. Solid state ignition, electronic idle and a 40-amp alternator are standard. The valve train drive is an oil-bathed chain, and the cam drives 16 valves.
Fuel is supplied by an electronic injection system, and a tuned, long-track 4-into-2-into-1 system exits the exhaust. Retail price for the DF140: $10,374. American Suzuki Motor Corp., (800) 247-4704; www.suzuki.com.
Yamaha is now producing 200 and 225 hp four-stroke models. These units tip the scales at 583 pounds-slightly more than similar-horsepower two-strokes. A 45-amp alternator provides charging power for the 3.3-liter, 60-degree V-6 block, 24-valve engine. An overhead cam, fuel injection and six tuned intake tubes deliver the main power and improve low- and midrange performance.
The F225 and F200 are available with counter-rotation and come in 25-inch shaft length; the F225 offers a 30-inch, as well. Retail price for the F200 and F225: $16,820 and $17,440. Yamaha Marine Group Company, (800) 88-YAMAHA; www.yamaha-motor.com.