The original Atomic 4 engine on our E29 has developed a leak in the salt water cooling system - a damaged bolt in the side plate that our mechanic doesn't dare to touch in case it renders the engine entirely useless. For now, the leak is a dribble, but we don't dare go on a summer cruise in case it turns into a gush along the way.
Called around re: repowering. The beta marine rep says about $28K to put in a new engine, and he doesn't do rebuilds any more because it's too expensive. No way we're spending that much! Got an estimate for an electric repower @ $15K. Tempting, but still this is triple our initial investment in the boat. An outboard would probably be more like $6-7K. Maybe an option. Either that, or sell to someone who likes to tinker with mechanics.
Have I missed anything?
Has anyone gone the outboard route? I wonder if this would fix my two least favorite things about the 29 -- the constant pull to port while motoring and the complete inability to steer in reverse? Or maybe it would introduce new/different problems related to weight and balance?
Thanks in advance for the collective wisdom on this board!
I will throw in my two worthless cents with the risk of being kicked in the teeth for what follows
. I have an Ericson 29 (Sail number 2972) which I bought with reportedly rebuilt A-4 in 2016. Fast-forward to 2019 and the engine died on entering the marina - of course, when else? It never restarted - evidently broke a crankshaft. After a few attempts to find a reasonable repowering option, I had to admit defeat and went the outboard way. I have a 25-hp 2-cycle extra long shaft Johnson ($650) which can propel the hull at 5.5 kts if you really push it, but would suck fuel far more than the A-4 ever did, of course. Luckily I use it only to leave and enter the marina, as the boat is a fantastic sailor.
The comments about loss of steering ability at low speeds are, of course, spot-on! I have rigged a spring line to make her turn sharply upon exiting the berth as the distance between the rows of berths is only a little longer than the boat at our marina. This has been the only modification I have made. I considered using a longer tiller for the engine, but so far have not and steer with the yacht's rudder and keep the engine centred. Once the boat is running above 1.0-1.5 kts, steering recovers, though you have to be far more aggressive with the rudder than with a normal engine and be prepared that it will take her longer to react.
As the engine is offset to port, the boat has a permanent list to port. It does not appear to make great difference under sail: she can steer herself for up to 5-10 minutes at a time without touching the tiller (less so on starboard tack than on port). It just looks odd and annoys me. The heavy engine on the back also influences fore-and-aft trim, naturally. Again - it does not seem to make a huge difference; not even visually in this case. The removal of the propeller (but not the shaft - just in case...) has added at least a knot to her average speed (it was a 3-bladed prop). Apologies for the long post, but my two cents are that if you are on a budget, do not hesitate and install an outboard. Is it ideal? No, but it is perfectly practical and better than sitting at the dock. I have sailed her far more with this arrangement than with the A-4. In open water, the engine will be next to no good in swell, but then you sail, don't motor.