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Before the beginning of the 70s, the choice was simple – there wasn’t one! A propulsion unit consisted of an engine, and a propeller, linked by a stainless steel propshaft, passing through a more or less watertight stern gland. This unit had the advantage of being basic, which led to a certain reliability, as well as easier maintenance. When the saildrive arrived on the scene, just like any sudden technological change, it initially ran counter to the nautical common sense of numerous sailors. The disappearance of the eternal stern gland, replaced by a large hole in the hull, made watertight by a simple neoprene joint, fed the fears of the most pessimistic amongst us for a long time. Forty years later, having proved its reliability, this solution has won unanimous support amongst the most representative builders. Without at this stage unveiling the advantages it provides to us humble leisure sailors, its compactness of course appealed to architects looking for extra space, but above all it won the support of production managers, quick to save on the tedious propshaft/engine alignment phase. To sum up, the saildrive is so much easier to fit, that its success was guaranteed by the builders’ economic interests.

Bien choisir la motorisation de son bateau

Even sailing boats sometimes need engines…

The latter, prompted by the phenomenon of a fast-growing ecological conscience, however (too?) quickly took an interest in electric propulsion, or more precisely at the time (almost 10 years ago), hybrid propulsion. As the batteries and the non-polluting means of charging them (solar panels, wind generators...) didn’t then allow them to offer a realistic range, the presence of a generator aboard remained necessary. On our cruising catamarans, this already allowed the number of internal combustion engines aboard to be divided by two! But the technology was not satisfactory, the various suppliers not in step, and despite the leadership of a large group, reverse gear was quickly engaged. Since then, technological developments, led by the car or aeronautic industries amongst others, have today opened up new horizons. Specialists have appeared, and are offering turn-key solutions which have already attracted several builders of one-off boats, but not yet the principle market leaders.
As the prices have started to soar, certain skippers and even builders have been tempted to return to simpler set-ups. One or two outboards on brackets represents a simple, lightweight and economical solution for multihulls under 10 meters. After having being abandoned for many years, some builders are taking a renewed interest in them, for the advantages mentioned above, but also because the improved reliability of the four strokes of yesterday and the arrival of electric outboards of tomorrow, opens up new horizons.

Bien choisir la motorisation de son bateau

What power!


Tradition sometimes has its good points! Wherever you are in the world, no diesel mechanic, even one who is not a marine specialist, will be put off by your ...

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