BET­TER BOAT­ING

HOW TO DE­CIDE BE­TWEEN ONE OR TWO OUT­BOARDS

Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS - BY JIM HEN­DRICKS

Fish­ing boats in the 23- to 26-foot range rep­re­sent one of the most pop­u­lar size cat­e­gories to­day, and one for which many buy­ers face a de­ci­sion — the choice be­tween sin­gle or twin out­boards.

Some­times that de­ci­sion proves easy. A num­ber of mod­els in this size range are not de­signed to han­dle or of­fered with twins, so a sin­gle is your only choice. Bay boats, for ex­am­ple, al­most al­ways fea­ture sin­gle en­gines. With cata­ma­rans, twins are a virtual ne­ces­sity. But with off­shore V-hulls, the choice be­tween sin­gles and twins in­volves more con­sid­er­a­tion.

“This is a boat cat­e­gory for which many buy­ers need to look at the pluses and mi­nuses of a sin­gle out­board ver­sus twin out­boards,” says Dean Cor­bisier, public re­la­tions and ad­ver­tis­ing man­ager for Suzuki Marine. “Nei­ther choice is a bad one, but there are con­sid­er­a­tions that can in­flu­ence your de­ci­sion one way or the other.”

Here are seven fac­tors to keep in mind when choos­ing out­board power for a new V-hull in the 23- to 26-foot range.

COST

Twins can more than dou­ble the cost of power. In a cur­sory search on the In­ter­net, I found that a 2017 Suzuki 300 hp V-6 out­board re­tails for around $25,900, while a pair of Suzuki 150 hp four-cylin­der out­boards sells for about $31,000 ($15,500 each).

In ad­di­tion, the cost for rig­ging — con­trols, wiring har­nesses, ca­bles, in­stru­men­ta­tion, prop­ping (some­times not in­cluded with the en­gine) and la­bor — nearly dou­bles for twins, com­pared with a sin­gle out­board. Sim­i­larly, count on twice the cost of reg­u­larly sched­uled main­te­nance for twin out­boards ver­sus a sin­gle.

SAFETY

A long-stand­ing be­lief holds that twin-out­board boats are safer be­cause you have a backup mo­tor in case one breaks down. That way of thinking de­vel­oped in the days when out­boards were

balky and prone to fre­quent prob­lems, but that school of thought has lost much of its rel­e­vance thanks to the greater de­pend­abil­ity of to­day’s out­boards.

“The re­li­a­bil­ity of to­day’s out­boards is bet­ter than ever be­fore,” says Cor­bisier. “With the way out­boards per­form now, no boat­ing an­gler should be hes­i­tant to ven­ture off­shore with a sin­gle out­board.

“Many of our Suzuki pros have fished off­shore with sin­gle out­boards for years.”

Still, twins slightly edge out a sin­gle mo­tor when it comes to get­ting home un­der your own power in the un­likely event of a break­down. How­ever, when en­gine fail­ures are re­lated to fuel prob­lems, such as phase sep­a­ra­tion from ethanol-laced gaso­line blends, twins don’t of­fer much of an ad­van­tage.

“If twin en­gines are pulling fuel from the same tank, the bad gas will likely af­fect both of them,” Cor­bisier says.

SPEED

All things be­ing equal, in­clud­ing horse­power and weight of the hull, a sin­gle out­board should come out ahead when it comes to speed, be­cause a sin­gle gear case and pro­pel­ler cre­ate less drag in the wa­ter than two.

In ad­di­tion, the weight of two smaller out­boards usu­ally ex­ceeds the weight of one large mo­tor. To give you an idea, a Yamaha F250 has a pub­lished weight of 619 pounds, while a pair of Yamaha F115s has a com­bined weight of 772 pounds (386 pounds each). That ex­tra mass can ad­versely af­fect top speed.

For ev­i­dence, we looked at Yamaha’s per­for­mance bul­letins for the Key West 244CC, which was tested with a wide range of power con­fig­u­ra­tions, in­clud­ing both a sin­gle F250 and twin F115s. The sin­gle 250 achieved a top speed of 45.2 mph ver­sus 43 mph for a pair of 115s (de­spite the twins’ 5 hp ad­van­tage).

Al­though that bul­letin proved the point, an­other in­di­cates that a sin­gle might not al­ways be faster. In com­par­ing the per­for­mance of the same boat model pow­ered by a Yamaha F300 against a pair of Yamaha F150s, the twins posted the bet­ter speed of 53.6 mph ver­sus 49.5 mph for the sin­gle.

While a sin­gle should be faster, fac­tors such as prop­ping and en­gine height can af­fect the top speed of ei­ther setup.

In real life, many twin in­stal­la­tions of­fer horse­power that far ex­ceeds a sin­gle out­board. In­stead of twin 150s, for ex­am­ple, many buy­ers opt for twin four­cylin­der 200s. There is lit­tle or no ex­tra weight for this up­grade, yet it gives the boat an ad­di­tional 100 hp that should re­sult in a big top-speed ad­van­tage over the sin­gle 300.

HOLE SHOT

As with top speed, ac­cel­er­a­tion times can vary, but gen­er­ally speak­ing, twin out­boards should achieve a quicker hole shot than a sin­gle out­board of the same horse­power. This is be­cause twins have greater blade area with which to punch out of the hole, and drag is less of a fac­tor dur­ing ini­tial ac­cel­er­a­tion than at higher ve­loc­i­ties.

With the Key West 244 cited above, the twin 115s vaulted to 30 mph in 5.57 sec­onds, while the sin­gle 250 took 8.97 sec­onds to reach the same speed. The twin 150s at­tained 30 mph in 5.42 sec­onds, and the sin­gle 300 took only slightly longer, 5.61 sec­onds.

FUEL EF­FI­CIENCY

If your goal is max­i­mum miles per gal­lon, choose a sin­gle out­board. Again, it boils down to less drag and weight than with twin en­gines, as­sum­ing all other fac­tors are equal.

In Yamaha’s per­for­mance test­ing with the Key West 244CC, the sin­gle F250 achieved 3.15 mpg at 26.1 mph ver­sus 3.03 mpg at 22.4 mph with twin F115s.

In the sec­ond test, the sin­gle F300 posted its best per­for­mance of 3.98 mpg at 22.7 mph ver­sus 3.11 mpg at 20.5 mph with the twin F150 out­boards.

EASE OF USE

Syn­chro­niz­ing the rev­o­lu­tions per minute and trim an­gles for twin out­boards was once a te­dious chore, but ad­vances in elec­tronic en­gine con­trols have eased the task of run­ning mul­ti­ple out­boards. Al­though all twin en­gines come with twin throt­tle/shift levers, new sys­tems per­mit con­trol of rev­o­lu­tions per minute and trim for both mo­tors with just one lever and trim switch while un­der­way.

Power-as­sist hy­draulic steer­ing sys­tems, such as Op­ti­mus from SeaS­tar So­lu­tions, also let you steer mul­ti­ple out­boards with a light touch — lit­er­ally one fin­ger. Yamaha of­fers power as­sist as part of its Helm Master sys­tem, and all Ev­in­rude G2 and Mer­cury Ver­ado out­boards come stan­dard with power steer­ing. Gone are the days when you had to wres­tle with the wheel to turn the mo­tors. As a re­sult, twin out­boards are now just as easy to run as a sin­gle en­gine.

MANEUVERABILITY

With an ef­fec­tive pair of di­rec­tional thrust vec­tors in the form of out­board lower units, twins win the maneuverability con­test, hands down. In the right hands, a twin-en­gine boat can spin in place on its cen­ter point like a pin­wheel, turn very sharply without swing­ing the stern in tight al­ley­ways, or “walk” side­ways to si­dle up to a dock. That’s not to say that sin­gle-out­board boats lack maneuverability, but a twin gives you the edge when try­ing to jockey a boat around in tight quar­ters.

Some twin-en­gine set­ups also make pos­si­ble the ad­di­tion of a joy­stick dock­ing-con­trol sys­tem, such as Mer­cury’s Joy­stick Pi­lot­ing for Out­boards, SeaS­tar So­lu­tions’ Op­ti­mus 360 or Yamaha’s Helm Master, for the ul­ti­mate in low-speed maneuverability. None of th­ese sys­tems are avail­able for sin­gle out­boards.

Weigh all th­ese fac­tors care­fully if you’re in the mar­ket for a new out­board-pow­ered V-hull in the 23- to 26-foot range, then choose the power con­fig­u­ra­tion that best suits your mind­set, pri­mary type of fish­ing and style of boat­ing.

Many off­shore-fish­ing boats in the 23- to 26-foot size range are avail­able with ei­ther sin­gle or twin out­boards. Your buy­ing de­ci­sion hinges on seven fac­tors.

Above left: In the­ory, a sin­gle out­board should cost less, of­fer greater fuel ef­fi­ciency and achieve a higher top speed than twin out­boards, as­sum­ing all other fac­tors are equal. Above right: Twin out­boards tend to pro­vide a quicker hole shot and of­fer greater maneuverability in tight quar­ters than does a sin­gle out­board of equal power.

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