Friday, 18 June 2010

A new outboard bracket - repairs and improvements

Nice fishing weather going by, but I have decided fitting an outboard to the cat has to be a high priority - apart from greatly easing the loading of ice and getting in and out of harbour (and potentially, unloading fish!) it will allow me to work the boat single-handed. Sometimes the weather is great... and all potential crew are busy doing other things.

So I've almost finished building an outboard bracket. The problem with many outboard brackets for catamarans is that they hang low enough under the cockpit floor to catch the waves, making noise and slowing the boat down. And I'd been told by the previous owner of the boat that going downwind in a storm, waves overtaking the boat from behind would frequently wash water right over the engines. So in trying to find a solution to these problems, I went to Millbrook in Cornwall to have a look around. Only one catamaran currently in the yard used outboards, but the brackets were an inspiring design:

This bracket is hinged at the front. Though the engine would need removing first, the bracket could potentially be raised level with the cockpit floor. However, the engines, like the engines I got with my catamaran, are 9.9 hp Yamaha's, weighing around 50kgs each. That's too much weight to lug around at sea, lifting an engine into a locker.

My new outboard is a 6hp Tohatsu, weighing 25 kg. That's light enough to be able to lift off the bracket and put into a locker (something Seafish require me to do at sea, to still qualify as an engineless fishing boat). So I figured, once I've put the engine away, why not put the bracket away too, and fill the gap in the cockpit floor with a removable floor section? That's what I'm building now, a bracket like the one on the cat in Millbrook, but removable rather than just hinged.

Here's the state of play so far:

Most of the stress will be borne by oak along the top and at the back. The rest is plywood epoxied together. Being a complex shape, I'm having to glass it in several goes, so it's taking a little time.

Meanwhile, I've rebuilt the winch that was playing up. Taking it apart, I saw that the wrong sort of grease had been used the last time the winch was serviced, causing some corrosion that I had to smooth to a good surface with wet/dry sandpaper, before rebuilding using the right grease. Good as new now. Unfortunately, I'll have to do the same to the other two winches on board, but it can wait.

The outboard has gone back to the shop for its first service.

I've sorted out the mess that was the spinnaker.

I'm changing the clips on the longline snoods from fiddly snaps to bigger clips - much easier to connect/disconnect. This should enable me to set my lines much more quickly. While I'm at it, I'm attaching a lead weight to the middle of the snoods to prevent them from spinning around the mainline. This should enable me to actually catch some fish.

I'm making other changes to simplify my use of downrigger lines. I'll post about this if it proves successful.

Enough! My last dose of epoxy on the outboard bracket is hard enough now to allow me to get on with the next session.


  1. I'm in the process of re-building an identical outboard mount for my cat sailboat. I'm wondering if you've made more progress on your build, and more specifically if you have more pictures? Thanks for posting!

  2. Hi Junior,

    In the end I concluded that I'd be better off not having the brackets hinged. The engines when raised fill up the cockpit lockers I built around them, and if the brackets were raised higher too, I'd just have to have lockers that were too high. So I sliced off the bit of oak that sticks out at the front in the picture, and glassed in the brackets permanently.

    Since I haven't sailed the boat since I fitted the brackets, I don't yet know how much they'll catch the water.