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Old 08-07-2012, 08:57 PM   #81
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Really good replies as always. We do have experience but all on rivers and lakes with smaller vessels. This time, we will move aboard, live, and cruise the rest if our days away. We love boating and love the water.

Slow and steady is great for us. To me, getting there is half the fun.

I am not at all sold on twins. A single screw is fine but it would be reassuring to have a small Get Home engine just in case. I suppose though that if an engine is well taken care of it should perform just fine. That us what I always did in the past and I have never been let down yet by one.

Great forum as I have said. Much appreciated!!!!
For many areas the best get home engine is an assistance towing contract. Besides just the tow..they are there to help in many other ways. I even help members of the competition just because it's fun.

Before all the remote area guys start screaming...yes I know the difference between getting help in a few hours versus a couple of days...

A dingy properly rigged can do a lot too....a "good enough" get home engine for some types of crusin'.

I was just relating with a crusing friend...bringing my single eng trwler the 1000 miles from Ft lauderdale to NJ was actually less eventful than dozens of trips that far with twins. More than half of those trips ended in single engine returns or significant delays waiting for one engine to be fixed.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:13 PM   #82
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Part of the single vs twin decision should be based on where one intends to boat. Ignoring for the moment the fact that an engine if well maintained and properly operated should be pretty much trouble free, if one boats where assistance is readily available, the redundancy benefit of a twin is somewhat reduced. If one boats in waters where assistance is hours or days away, the redundancy of a twin becomes more important.

Also what is the nature of those waters? In the PNW, BC, and SE Alaska the tidal range is big to huge so currents can be fast and strong. Losing one's propulsion means the current will take over and there have been plenty of instances, even in waters where tow services are less than an hour away, where boats have been carried into rocks, onto a reef, or up against the shore within a very short time after power was lost.

In places where the tidal range is small so currents are less significant, a boat that loses its means of propulsion may simpy drift around for awhile (depending on the wind) and there may be plenty of time for an assistance boat to get there.

So lots of factors to consider in the decision, which is why there is no right or wrong answer to the "how many engines" question.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:19 PM   #83
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Returning to the twins/single aspect of economics (if that`s not too much on topic),I gather single low revving heavy diesels eg Deere,Lugger,Gardner are engine of choice for long range cruisers(which we are not), maybe with a 'get home' auxiliary engine. Such cruisers may cover a lot of miles between refuel opportunities and need to get the most out of fuel they carry. Does that point to the economy of single engines? BruceK
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:39 PM   #84
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Sure. Add to this the fact that the long-range, so-called "passagemakers" like Nordhavn, etc. are almost always displacment boats with relatively low power engines since not a lot of power is needed to move them at their optimum cruising speeds. The standard power package in most Nordhavn's, for example, is a single Lugger. Some of these boats have get-home setups, often in the form of a small engine with its own small shaft and folding prop offset to one side of the centerline.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:47 PM   #85
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Part of the single vs twin decision should be based on where one intends to boat. Ignoring for the moment the fact that an engine if well maintained and properly operated should be pretty much trouble free, if one boats where assistance is readily available, the redundancy benefit of a twin is somewhat reduced. If one boats in waters where assistance is hours or days away, the redundancy of a twin becomes more important.

Also what is the nature of those waters? In the PNW, BC, and SE Alaska the tidal range is big to huge so currents can be fast and strong. Losing one's propulsion means the current will take over and there have been plenty of instances, even in waters where tow services are less than an hour away, where boats have been carried into rocks, onto a reef, or up against the shore within a very short time after power was lost.

In places where the tidal range is small so currents are less significant, a boat that loses its means of propulsion may simpy drift around for awhile (depending on the wind) and there may be plenty of time for an assistance boat to get there.

So lots of factors to consider in the decision, which is why there is no right or wrong answer to the "how many engines" question.
Hate to be the weenie here but while tidal range is important..it's not the range that makes the current...it's the waters it's squeezed through...and at some point...what does even that matter? If you lose an engine and are swept into rock, pilings, wrecks, etc...etc....your boat is damaged nonetheless whether the curent is a half knot or 4 knots.

So if you have a single engine...much like a pilot of a single engine plane anticipates...you have to be ready for the worst at all times if single engine....know thy emergency landing spot at all times.

I see it every day in my assistance towing job. people that have problems and get the anchor down and set fast are OK while the knuckleheaded inexperienced boaters wait and wait...then they are in a world of shi* before they know it.

It's a mindset...just like flying or anything else in life. If you think you are taking a risk in one area (single engine) and are prepared to deal with the cosequences...you are better off than the person with the added safety feature of a second engine or whatever if you are complacent because of that added feature.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:56 PM   #86
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Hello everyone. I'm still attaining knowledge from the forum, at a rapid pace I might add, and I thank you all. I read this last night and it made a lot of sense, to me anyway, even though I'd love to have twins it was an interesting read.
Cheers to ya'll!

Single or Twin Engine??
There are certain subjects that bring out spirited opinions in everyone. In trawler circles, a dead ringer for dockside debate concerns the argument of one engine versus two engines. There are claims that can be made to support either point of view.
Having said that, I now contend that much of the emotional and gut-feel intuition you have about this subject may be suspect-or at least open for analysis. You see, I intended this article to come together in a "Point...Counterpoint" format, showing the arguments on both sides of this popular Holy Place topic.
I discussed the subject with professionals in the marine engine industry, asking some pointed and open questions. By identifying the valid pros and cons, I thought we could all get a little more informed about the real issues, and the benefits of single engine and twin engines. The different opinions could be listed and shared with you, and then we could all choose up sides. Boy, was I in for a surprise...
The opinions of these marine diesel experts were decidedly one-sided-in favor of a single engine installation. This is simply amazing, considering the many thousands of boats built with twin diesels. However, these people know their business, and their experience/opinions are a direct result of many years in the marine industry- serving commercial, military, fishing, and pleasure boat applications.
There is apparently a lot of vaporous thinking out there concerning reliability, maneuverability, safety, economy, and applicability when discussing a single engine versus twin engines.
Obviously the final decision is up to you, the boat owner. But just listen to what these guys have to say...
Reliability
Did you know nearly one hundred percent of the commercial fishing and work-boat vessels (of all sizes) are single screw/one engine boats? Scallop draggers, lobster boats, charter fishing boats, long-liners, crabbers, seiners, whatever- these vessels are all powered by a single diesel engine. (And that engine usually has keel cooling and a dry exhaust.)
Bob Tokarczyk, Marine Sales Manager at Bell Power Systems (the Northeast distributor for John Deere Power) summed it up by stating, "From an engine representative point of view, engines aren't troublesome. If they are maintained, they basically will give the dependability and durability expected.
"If you look at the commercial side, you'll find almost all commercial vessels are a single engine vessel-you only see multi-engined vessels when there are rigorous situations, such as ferry boats, where there are exceptional demands placed on the application."
All of these engine manufacturer representatives felt the same-the reliability of the engine (and drive components) is not in question. Commercial vessels go out in much worse conditions than we do, and they put thousands of continuous hours on their engines each year.
Bill Naugle, Senior Application Engineer at Caterpillar, had another persuasive argument. "A fuel-related problem that kills one engine will probably kill both engines, so reliability isn't equated to redundancy. The redundancy reason just isn't valid.
"Any modern diesel is pretty reliable, and things just don't fly apart anymore. But if anything in the system fails, you're done-so maintenance is very important. Professional fishboat operators probably maintain their equipment a lot better than pleasure boat owners, which is a factor to consider.
"Pleasure boat owners don't run their engines hard (high rpm and horsepower load) in the first place, so the engines are not being stressed. Anybody who buys a trawler is not a go-fast guy. These people probably are going cruising, so they are more worried about noise and fuel consumption. Many are ex-sailors. These people just don't abuse machinery-so things last forever."
Bill Hirt, Application Engineer at Cummins Marine, adds that manufacturers build engines for different horsepower ratings, which allows the designers to insure reliability at lower load ratings. "Typically, we put a derated-type engine into trawlers, which may be the same basic engine as a higher horsepower version, but set up for less horsepower demands. And there is less stress in these lower horsepower applications."
Obviously it is important to have all the necessary spares on board your boat, so if there is a problem it can be resolved safely and timely. Relying on the second engine to get you home because you don't carry a spare waterpump impeller isn't the mark of proper seamanship.
gt;Maneuverability
A boat with twin engines is easier to maneuver, no doubt about it. So if you are going into places where you are worried about high winds, small tight spaces, then the two engine setup may be the answer. But even this seemingly obvious conclusion didn't phase the experts.
Al Kozel, Vice President of Marine Sales at Detroit Diesel, said it best. "I think a lot of pleasure boat owners are uncomfortable docking a boat with one engine. Having twin engines makes a big difference in maneuverability. But with a properlysized bow or stern thruster, a single engine vessel can turn circles in its own length-so that takes care of the maneuverability question."
Again, they draw our attention to commercial boats, where operators work 15/18 hours a day, 5/7 days a week. They have no problems maneuvering around a 40'/50' boat with a single engine. They know the thrusts, and they know how to get into a spot, taking advantage of whatever conditions exist at the time.
The general feeling is that maneuverability is a thinking person's game. If you think about what you are doing, knowing you have a certain amount of side thrust coming off your prop, knowing where the winds are and so on, you can utilize all these factors to successfully maneuver your trawler. The commercial people think about the conditions and vessel characteristics, and make them work to their advantage.
By having two engines, we have the piece of mind that we can achieve something that really could be done with a single screw-but maneuvering a single screw requires more thinking.
Not one of these engine professionals felt maneuverability was enough reason to consider two engines. Get a thruster...or practice.
Safety
The experts agree this is a question of perception. Many people feel redundancy is safety, but it gets back to the factual versus perceived value of two engines. If you really sit down and pick it apart, there are not many factual reasons for two engines, and you might even find reasons that make two engines less desirable for safety.
Kurt Hoehne of Alaska Diesel Electric (makers of Lugger diesel engines) points out some lessobvious safety considerations. "Remember, as many failures occur due to damage to the propeller or shaft as to the engine itself breaking down. A single prop is usually protected by the keel, and therefore is less likely to be damaged."
The props, struts, and shafts of twin engines are very much exposed to lines, nets, trash, logs, or other potentially damaging objects. A single propeller in an aperture is protected by the keel. This is a point to consider if you cruise in areas with floating debris.
Kurt continues, "And while the second engine is a good backup, other systems are routinely installed. A 'get home' engine is very popular, either on its own drive system or connected to the main shaft. If it's connected to the main shaft, it becomes useless if the main shaft and/or propeller are damaged. Some get home systems are installed with saildrive units and folding props, so they're there when needed, but have only minimal drag the rest of the time.
"Some stern thrusters are an appealing alternative. These transom-mounted units can be lowered and rotated 90 degrees to act as get home power. This eliminates drag, yet helps maneuverability, and provides a safety margin."
But Bill Naugle of Caterpillar doesn't see the need for exotic alternatives. "All the fishboats run around with one engine. And these professional fishing boats don't have alternative powerplants or get home systems. If you are on a coast somewhere, go talk to the fishing people-people who know how to make the engine room a very reliable place for all machinery. They go out all the time with a single screw vessel."
Economy
The initial cost of twin engines is usually higher, as is the cost of operating them.
Bob Tokarczyk said it best. "With two engines, you have twice the worries, twice the maintenance, twice the instrumentation, twice the number of filter changes you have to think about-as well as everything else that needs to be done with two engines. Overall, the costs are far greater."
Bill Naugle adds, "Maintenance and cost are pretty much doubled. If you have a specific horsepower requirement for a given hull, it doesn't really matter whether you power with two small diesels or one bigger diesel-the fuel consumed is pretty much the same (the smaller engines probably use a bit more). But all the other costs are doubled."
Applicability
Now that we have looked at reliability, maneuverability, safety, and economy, how does all this apply to your boat and cruising agenda? What else do you need to think about? Here are their comments...
Brian Smith of American Diesel, "It is important to size the engine correctly. American Diesel sticks with the naturally aspirated diesel design, and stays away from turbocharging for the majority of these applications."
Kurt Hoehne of Alaska Diesel, "For the long distance cruiser like a trawler, both single or twin engines should be sized and geared to provide the speed you are looking for. Getting this formula correct is critical."
Bill Naugle of Caterpillar, "Having two small, hightech diesels to produce the horsepower of a big single diesel may be an option, but there is a question of overall life of the engine. The larger engine is going to live much longer than the smaller engines. If you are in a situation where life is at risk (as is the case offshore)-this is a consideration."
Bob Tokarczyk of Bell Power, "Buy a good reliable engine, an engine that is rated properly. Don't go out and buy the smallest, highest horsepower engine-it just won't be as reliable or as durable. Buy an engine that is designed for running longer periods of time, not just for high performance."
Al Kozel of Detroit Diesel, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with a single diesel engine. And there is no real justification for twins for most applications. If one engine can do the job, then there really is no point in having two."
Bill Hirt of Cummins Marine, "If I were a diehard sportfisherman, you better believe I would want two big engines-but for a trawler application, I probably would just have one engine."
Summary
This will probably generate more discussion than answers-but that's fine. It is important to scrape away at the perceptions, and look at the real issues and tradeoffs.
Your boat should be equipped to suit your own desires and requirements. If your speed requirements can't be satisfied by a single engine installation, for instance, then that is the end of the debate for you.
The same is probably true if you feel redundancy is best, no matter what else is said on the subject. No doubt about it, two engines are found in thousands of boats. If you don't have a thruster, twin engines will definitely give you the edge in maneuverability.
However you come out in the dockside argument, take a hard look at your own rationale, and see if these experts have put anything in a different light for you. If you are considering a new boat with an engine option, try both single and twin engine versions before making a decision.
And let the great debate continue...
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the following individuals for their comments and experiencebased opinions. I got their names directly from the engine manufacturers, so be clear these people know what they are talking about!
Kurt Hoehne
Alaska Diesel Electric
Seattle, WA
Bill Naugle,
Senior Application Engineer
Caterpillar Inc.
Mossville, IL

Brian Smith
American Diesel Corporation
Kilmarnock, VA

Al Kozel,
Vice President of Marine Sales
Detroit Diesel Corporation
Detroit, MI

Bill Hirt,
Application Engineer
Cummins Marine
Charleston, SC

Bob Tokarczyk,
Marine Sales Manager
Bell Power Systems (Distributors for John
Deere Power Systems)
Essex, CT
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:06 PM   #87
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Sometimes more makes you look stupid:



I suspect the pic was doctored, but still.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:11 PM   #88
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Sometimes more makes you look stupid:



I suspect the pic was doctored, but still.
The words "over achiever" come to mind here.
WOW!
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:05 PM   #89
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If more is better, why not 5?
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:10 PM   #90
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Hate to be the weenie here but while tidal range is important..it's not the range that makes the current...it's the waters it's squeezed through...
Mmmmm.... not totally. When you have a tidal range of up to 20 feet, the current even out in the middle of a big body of water like the Strait of Georgia or Queen Charlotte Strait can thump along at a pretty good clip as that massive volume of water flushes out and then returns twice a day. Yes, you're right in that constricting this huge flow of water into a narrow passage between islands or an island and the mainland will certainly speed things up, often a whole lot. There are local currents here like the famed Skookumchuck Narrows that the average 10 foot tidal range sends 200 billion gallons of water through every day at speeds reaching almost 18 knots.

But it's the tidal range that sets the volume of flow and the baseline current speed: the constriction of the passes is the speed multiplier. I'm talking our inside waters here where the entire water volume between high and low tides in the area from the south end of Puget Sound to the north end of Vancouver Island leaves and enters four times a day through two large straits. If the tide range in this area was only a foot or so, the currents would be relatively minor.

The situation on an open coast will, I assume, be much different in terms of the currents even if the tide range is high.

Having known some people who've nearly had their boats pushed into rocks or a rocky shoreline by the current when they lost either motive power or steerage I can say it's a definite possibility here. In one case steering was restored minutes before the boat went into the rocks. In another the Canadian CG arrived just in time to tow the powerless sailboat away from the shoreline.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:15 PM   #91
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Twins are again great for docking and second to a bow thruster ! backing into a slip with i single screw is a aquired talent. Takes some bad docking to get it right. Fast cruisers are different than semi displacement and full displacement hulls. They call it a semi displacement hull but it runs 20 knots ?????? really Read and understand the difference and the good and bad of all designs and flaws they are all in print somewhere.
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:24 PM   #92
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Bill Naugle, Senior Application Engineer at Caterpillar, had another persuasive argument. "A fuel-related problem that kills one engine will probably kill both engines, so reliability isn't equated to redundancy. The redundancy reason just isn't valid."
Here's the big problem I have with statements like this. The statement itself is true, but it's misleading. Over the years I've known, met, or heard about a number of people with power and sailboats, inlcuding us, who have had to shut an engine down or had one shut down on them. And NONE of them had this problem due to a problem related to the fuel itself.

Most of them, including us, had problems with cooling systems that forced a precautionary shutdown. Some of them had fuel system problems on one of or the only engine, like a failed injection pump, cracked injection pipe, failed lift pump, etc. Some had transmission failures. Some had debris get into and bend or break a driveline component--- shaft, prop, strut. This has been as much the case with singles as with twins although the risk is lower with a single. And some people have simply run out of fuel.

But I don't know or haven't heard of anyone who had an engine shut down here due to bad fuel. So I think the argument that a fuel problem that will shut down one engine will shut down both engines is valid, but it's simply not reflected in the real world and it's not a statement that we would consider were we having to make a decision between a single and a twin engine boat. There are a lot of other things we'd consider, but the fuel itself shutting an engine down isn't one of them.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:35 AM   #93
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LA Wannabe, that`s a good helpful article. though it misses the ability to steer with twins if steering fails, and keeping up your Seatow (or similar) membership.
My previous boat had a single turbo/after-cooled Perkins, current one has twin FLs naturally aspirated. I`ve not had an engine failure on either, but do regular maintenance. I`m not a fan of turbos which add another layer of possible issues.
You can do many things with a single,without thrusters,but you must understand how and why it works. Twins are easier at close quarters,mostly you don`t use the helm at all, some "single" skills carried across for me. As other contributors have said, it all depends how you will use the boat.
I`m thinking a single, with bow thrusters, plus a "get home"auxiliary, is good,though the last is uncommon. But I`m keeping the Island Gypsy,and the 2 Ford Lehmans, for the foreseeable,and happy with it.BruceK
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:55 AM   #94
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Mmmmm.... not totally. When you have a tidal range of up to 20 feet, the current even out in the middle of a big body of water like the Strait of Georgia or Queen Charlotte Strait can thump along at a pretty good clip as that massive volume of water flushes out and then returns twice a day. Yes, you're right

....snip...

either motive power or steerage I can say it's a definite possibility here. In one case steering was restored minutes before the boat went into the rocks. In another the Canadian CG arrived just in time to tow the powerless sailboat away from the shoreline.
Q: Where are the fastest tidal currents?

Below is a list of the 50 locations in North America with the fastest tidal currents. Station Name Latitude Longitude Speed(knots) Flood EbbSeymour Narrows 50 8.00N 125 21.00W 9.2 9.8 Hole In The Wall, Okisollo Channel 50 18.00N 125 13.00W 7.5 7.5 ...

bad formatting so here's the link...

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/faq4.html

while it's obvious a lot of the bad currents are in the PNW passages due to constriction and tidal range...there are other many other places that consistently have tidal flows in excess of 2-3 knots...my marina.

...and yes driving a single in and out of it is a huge question mark if the engine ever fails...but even the best capatins I know....even with twins... would lose control when tying to get in a slip.

In open water around here...you anchor. Up where you are with both the deep/rocky waters and remoteness...I would probbly lean heavily towards owning a twin also.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:33 AM   #95
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What people seem to overlook in this twin Vs Single engine debate is that the passagemakers that run single engines almost always are dry stack and keel cooled.

Some of these engines also have eliminated belts from the design I believe.

This makes for a very simple engine with fewer things that can go wrong with them.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:37 AM   #96
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What people seem to overlook in this twin Vs Single engine debate is that the passagemakers that run single engines almost always are dry stack and keel cooled.

Some of these engines also have eliminated belts from the design I believe.

This makes for a very simple engine with fewer things that can go wrong with them.
True but even those items are simple to fix underway (except in bad weather) and rarely break with regular maintenance....worst would be sucking up something that would be difficult to clear...but yes if a true passagemaker I would try and eliminate the simple also.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:44 AM   #97
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there have been plenty of instances, even in waters where tow services are less than an hour away, where boats have been carried into rocks, onto a reef, or up against the shore within a very short time after power was lost.

Guess they don't carry an anchor anymore?

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Old 08-08-2012, 12:01 PM   #98
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What most all of you are saying when you say a twin engined boat takes twice the maint and burns lots more fuel is that you're not comparing twins and singles. You're simply comparing a 120hp boat w a 240hp boat. A twin and a single w the same total power will burn almost exactly the same fuel and require almost exactly the same money to maintain. Almost no difference and the difference that emerges is usually not even related to twins v/s singles. The only real difference is initial cost and maneuverability. And consider that most things that cost more money that people buy are better.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:03 PM   #99
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And sometimes with engine(s) working just fine you still end up on the rocks:




Anyone think he can get out of that with a sand wedge?
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:46 PM   #100
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What most all of you are saying when you say a twin engined boat takes twice the maint and burns lots more fuel is that you're not comparing twins and singles. You're simply comparing a 120hp boat w a 240hp boat. A twin and a single w the same total power will burn almost exactly the same fuel and require almost exactly the same money to maintain. Almost no difference and the difference that emerges is usually not even related to twins v/s singles. The only real difference is initial cost and maneuverability. And consider that most things that cost more money that people buy are better.
Well...I don't think I've ever read something in such complete disagreement with everything I have read on the subject.

While the fuel burn isn't as big of a difference as many think (but you DO have to be comparing apples to apples which is almost impossible or if not impossible...it's rarely done)...as has been pointed out...the more you use the boat the more costly the twins will be...again apples to apples.

It's not fair to say a million plus boat with a $45,000 new engine is cheaper than the guy with a old boat with a pair of tired 3208s that STill have 10 years left before a rebuild drop in that will cost $25000 or so and the whole boat only cost $75000....in that case the twins would be cheaper for the average boater by a long shot.

But apples to apples ...not only purchase price is there, rebuild/replace will be way more...maybe not double...and many guys I know unless one went WAY prematurely...the'll do both at the same time...again this only applies to certain ranges of engines....sure there are combos of boats/engines that will be just the opposite where a bigger single may cost more than twins...but that's not what this discussion is really about.

So you truly have to compare apples to apples and unless buying new and have the choice between twins/single in a particular model...most will never be able to say they chose with absolute numbers in mind....it more just preference.
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