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Old 08-01-2019, 06:36 AM   #1
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Dinghy decision 2 stroke vs 4 stroke

We could use some help making a decision. I'm looking at 2 used hypalon RIBs that would work well for us. One has console steering. One is tiller. The console has a 20HP Honda 4 stroke outboard. The tiller has a 15 HP Mercury 2 stroke. They are both from around 2005/2006 era.

Assuming similar condition otherwise, would you lean toward one or the other. The Honda/console set up is obviously a little more $, but not a huge difference.

My davit system is yet to be determined/purchased/fabricated so we can go a lot of different ways there.
Thank you very much for your thoughts/opinions if anyone cares to chime in.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:49 AM   #2
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Get the console version, you will use the dinghy much more. Both are very good motors, assuming they have been maintained properly. We have a 2005 40HP Mercury two stroke that has been indestructible, as much as we and others have attempted to destroy it with very heavy use and abuse.

We've had tiller steering dinks on several chartered boats over the years; our Hatteras came with the 13' Whaler and the Merc. We'd never go back to tiller, and the dinghy gets used for exploration extensively, beyond just going to and from shore.
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Old 08-01-2019, 06:51 AM   #3
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unless weight is the primary concern, I can't think of a reason why I would choose the two stroke over the four stroke. So much quieter, and I don't need to mess with mixing gas with the four stroke. plus the convenience of console steering? No-brainer to me
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:00 AM   #4
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unless weight is the primary concern, I can't think of a reason why I would choose the two stroke over the four stroke. So much quieter, and I don't need to mess with mixing gas with the four stroke. plus the convenience of console steering? No-brainer to me
I think the 15HP of that vintage is, like my 40HP, a self mixing engine. We just refill the reservoir every now and then; seems to hold about 100 hours worth, but it is a bigger engine.
I'll also note, that if you can get one with electronic tilt, trim and starter, it's the cat's meow.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:15 AM   #5
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caltexflanc, your first comment above brings up a point I should have mentioned. For the next year or so we will be using the dinghy almost daily, and sometimes many times each day. To your point, that makes us lean toward the console steering, seat with a back rest, etc. from an enjoyment of use perspective. That is also the boat with the Honda 4 stroke.

BTW, the Merc does require mixing of the fuel and oil. It is not a self mixer.

Thanks for the comments so far. Please keep them coming.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:16 AM   #6
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Really need to figure out your davit system first. The full featured dinks can be really heavy and ungainly to load/unload.

I prefer the really simple dinks with tiller steer, portable gas tank and pull start. The Merc 15 is really easy to pull start, the four stroke takes a dang strong pull, almost making electric start necessary.

Tiller steer with a light motor makes power tilt unnecessary. Console steering and you will want power tilt.

The Merc does not have auto mixing of oil/gas. Pretty nice lightweight motor, got shift in tiller handle which I find handy. I have the 8hp version of the same motor, it has been a delight.

The Honda is a very nice engine too, but much bigger.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:20 AM   #7
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I love my 2st merc 15. No way would I pick a 4st. For: weight, speed, and operability.
I had to mount the motor onto the boat at sea, so weight was primary. Shallow water operation demanded the quick, 5 second or less trim out with just one movement to one of several high trim positions. And back down was very easy. Also, the shift on the throttle stalk made operation much safer and quicker. Reaching back for a side-mount shifter is awful, especially if you are maneuvering in the shallows, where you are standing. You will eat a lot of props that way. The lack of salt water corrosion on that motor still amazes me. And, finally, a console on a very small boat eats way too much room for what I do with a dink.

Your use case may be different. Much less demanding applications, you will appreciate the quiet idle and smokeless operation, and sometimes easier starting.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:42 AM   #8
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While the 4 with console is certainly the most "advanced" and attractive in some ways, the tiller with the 2T is total simplicity and definitely more reliable. So, depends where you will be when one or the other breaks down or needs a new steering or throttle cable - or just carry the right spares. Better idea - 2 engines!! When our Honda 40 crapped out we were fortunate enough to have a spare Merc 2T on the boat (in the Bahamas)
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:47 AM   #9
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Good points. Please keep chiming in. Pros and cons to each option, of course, but I'm trying to balance them out.

Your great comments remind me to mention a couple more things. The 4 stroke Honda does have electric start and power tilt. Diver dave, very good points about quick trim out in shallow water of the simpler Merc.

Diver dave, when you say "you will appreciate the quiet idle and smokeless operation, and sometimes easier starting" I assume you are saying the Honda will have these advantages, right? Or were you suggesting that contrary to what one might think, the Merc will surprise us with those advantages despite being 2stroke?
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:54 AM   #10
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Ski, great point about the davit system and figuring it out first. It's a real chicken and egg thing to me. If I had a davit system already, it would define/limit the dinghy choices. Or if I get the dinghy first, it defines the necessary davit system. Chicken and egg -- what to do first? I rebuilt our swim platform to be strong enough, including new brackets and backing plates, to handle a heavy dink if we went that direction. Still no davits, but lots of options there as a result of the rebuilt platform/brackets, and very heavy duty transom and cap rail with reasonable access to the inside of the transom cavity between.

There is a lot to be said for the simplicity of the Merc and tiller. Not as nice as the console boat and Honda 4 stroke, but maybe more trouble-free.
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:59 AM   #11
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We have a 4 stroke Suzuki 10 hp fuel injected. (No battery) This is our 2nd year with it. Starts 1st pull every time. But it’s a damn hard pull. I consider the motor to be loud, however I don’t have a lot of outboard experience to compare.
It’s on an 8 foot West Marine Hypalon / aluminum Rib which is much too small. Seems to be a good boat....but small.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:18 AM   #12
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...

Diver dave, when you say "you will appreciate the quiet idle and smokeless operation, and sometimes easier starting" I assume you are saying the Honda will have these advantages, right? Or were you suggesting that contrary to what one might think, the Merc will surprise us with those advantages despite being 2stroke?
For sure, 4s are quieter, especially at idle. My 2s Merc has a fuel enrichment cold start system that I don't see a good case for. It makes field fixes much harder. But, that has shown up once in 15 years or so.

Without knowing more about you specific situation, it is hard to give actual advice on what we think is best for you. If this is a deal where you are usually hauling 4 to/from docks from an anchored big boat for dinner, AND, you hang the dink from davits 90% of the time, then the fancier, quieter, smokeless machine should work out very well. Get a 12' Rib with electric start.
But, if you find yourself stuffing this rig into the back of small airplanes, haul coolers and 6 dive tanks into the shallow, coral encrusted bottom, and actually have to carry the motor around, the story quickly changes.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:20 AM   #13
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We really like the 4 strokes in the larger engine sizes but its hard to beat a 2 stroke in this size range with the weight out back and on the davits.
I have no problem with Honda's but in our area you just cannot get them serviced so that would be an issue as well - do you have a nearby friendly service shop.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:36 AM   #14
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We have an 10.5 rib with a 20hp bought new a few years ago. Chose to go tiller because of space. 2 adults, 2 teenagers and big dog are a hard squeeze in a smaller rib with a console but no problem at all with an open boat.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:56 AM   #15
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More great points and questions offered above and I appreciate it. Use of the dink will be for 2 people only -- very rarely more than that -- and typical trip will be to shore from anchored boat for groceries, out to dinner, explore a town, etc. Assuming we get adequate davits to lift it and carry it level, then no need to tote the engine around per diver dave's questions above. Both are 11' dinks. Smitty477 makes a good point on service. We will be on the move (sort of looping) so service areas will vary, but with my luck we will only break down with something I cannot handle in areas where it will be most inconvenient
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:20 AM   #16
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More great points and questions offered above and I appreciate it. Use of the dink will be for 2 people only -- very rarely more than that -- and typical trip will be to shore from anchored boat for groceries, out to dinner, explore a town, etc. Assuming we get adequate davits to lift it and carry it level, then no need to tote the engine around per diver dave's questions above. Both are 11' dinks. Smitty477 makes a good point on service. We will be on the move (sort of looping) so service areas will vary, but with my luck we will only break down with something I cannot handle in areas where it will be most inconvenient
OK an 11' RIB is very short and I believe you will appreciate the 35# less weight hanging at the very rear ...and more lower end power from the 2 stroke.
My opinion only after having a bunch of these RIBS of various sizes and HP.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:23 AM   #17
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Not sure what cruising grounds you're going to exactly, but in our experiences here on the Eastern seaboard, as well as places like the California Delta, there are innumerable places to explore that are more fun in the dinghy. Not to mention places only comfortably navigated by dinghy. The comfort level, and in my opinion the safety level of a console arrangement are paramount. Given the choice, why limit yourself?
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:37 AM   #18
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I too would prefer a full featured dink for dinking around. E-start, power trim, four stroke, console steering, etc. It is just that lugging that around on my smallish (38') boat is simply not practical. So little inflatable with little tiller motor it is.

To the OP, it comes down to what you can reasonably handle on your 49. A better dink is a better dink. The better dink is not better if it is a pain to use.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:39 AM   #19
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I'd absolutely choose the console. The only concerns I'd have would be weight and winter storage/service.

Weight for how it's transported on the boat. Make sure where ever you're going to put it is rated AND ready to handle the weight. That and understand how deploying it will go. I'm fortunate to have a hydraulic swim platform, but even then it's a little challenging lining the dinghy up 'just right' to load it. Having to winch it up onto a deck would be kinda tedious for our recreational type of boating. Towing is an option, but that brings along it's own adventures too.

Winter storage and service is something to consider. A smaller, lighter, tiller 2-stroke would be pretty easy to remove/reinstall for storage or having work done. One connected to a console would raise a bunch of issues with things being connected (steering, wiring, etc). These are added costs that some might want to avoid.

But with those things considered, I'd still go with the console variant for what you describe.
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Old 08-01-2019, 09:58 AM   #20
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Not sure what cruising grounds you're going to exactly, but in our experiences here on the Eastern seaboard, as well as places like the California Delta, there are innumerable places to explore that are more fun in the dinghy. Not to mention places only comfortably navigated by dinghy. The comfort level, and in my opinion the safety level of a console arrangement are paramount. Given the choice, why limit yourself?
A agree - with a 12.5' RIB I would choose the console but with an 11' RIB I would not choose a console.
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