Outboards are changing the world

Published online: Dec 02, 2013 Industry Katie Burke
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Who wants to hear some breaking news? Outboard motors were named number 58 on the list of 101 gadgets that changed the world by Popular Mechanics.

The outboard motor beat out duct tape, which was impressive to me. Especially when I've seen outboards held together by duct tape.

Normally, I'm all for a little redneck ingenuity but in this case, safety first peeps. I'm just sharing this example to let you all know that I've seen duct tape do some crazy things and, yet, the outboard has done more to change the world.

What a great day to love boating.

You can see the rest of this list here. But let me break the bad news first, the outboard did fall behind the match AND the light bulb.

What the what? I guess you can't win them all. And, typically, I do enjoy light and warmth so I'm good with all this.

Also, in my daily perusing of boating news, I ran across an article that questioned whether sterndrives will be able to stay relevant in today's marketplace.

"Our sterndrive sales the last two years have been going down each year and the outboard sales are going up," said Premier Marine president Bob Menne, one of five executives participating in a Q&A session at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo. "I talked to a [dealer] the other day who told me he used to be 75 percent sterndrives and 25 percent outboards. Last year, he was completely the opposite. So there is a swing happening."

Industry insiders have attributed this trend to the improvements in outboard technology over the last few years.

"The outboard manufacturers have done a great job in product development with designs and weight and fuel economy," Menne said. The panel members agreed that outboards are generally less expensive and easier to service than sterndrives.

But there is value in a good sterndrive. MarineMax CEO Bill McGill pointed out that each propulsion
system comes with its pluses and minuses.

"I love outboards," he said. "Don't take this the wrong way, but they're in the way - whether you have one, two, three or four engines hanging on the back, they're in the way. So there's advantages to sterndrives that solve that problem."

Since they taught me how to insert YouTube videos in these fun Internet stories, here you go! You can watch the highlights of the five member panel.


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