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Making it easy to get the outboard engine off a tender and safely aboard

1 comment

What is the issue?
When it comes to stowing the tender, its heavy unwieldy outboard engine is very difficult to bring aboard. Typically you have to disconnect its thumb screws and lift it up from the highly unstable dinghy platform onto the yacht. With the engine being so heavy and unwieldy, the maneuvre can so easily wind up with the engine going into the drink and you following it in.

Why address this?
This is a common chore that truly is a pain, and is physically demanding. Losing the engine overboard like this is also unthinkable as inflatable dinghies typically do not row very well and you will be hard-pressed to get to and from the boat at anchor. This does not touch on the cost of replacement, or repairs if it can be recovered, and the associated insurance premiums.

How to address this?
If you happen to have a simple spare 4:1 cruising mainsheet system with a cam, you can attach it to the aft end of the boom either to a fixing or a strop, and use the boom and tackle, crane-like, to hoist the heavy outboard aboard. To do this you will also need a secure outboard lifting sling on the engine.

Using a block and tackle on the boom to lift off an outboard engine
Photo: Michael Harpur

Ideally, place a snap shackle on to the base and head blocks of your tackle to make it convenient to reuse. Then simply let out the mainsheet and push the boom outboard enough so the tackle sits over the engine. Connect it up to the outboard lifting sling and then hoist the engine up clear of the topsides. Next, pull in the boom and recenter it, pivoting the lower leg of the outboard over the guard rails to help clear it, and drop the outboard down into the cockpit for storage. Then stow it as normal. If a three or four-point lifting harness is made up, that radiates from a central lifting ring, you can use the exact same process to lift the dinghy aboard.

Block and tackle on a strop
Photo: Zebahdy

It is truly worth investing in an old mainsheet system or block and tackle for this purpose, or indeed searching around some boat jumbles or e-bay. The same tackle can be used to hoist the dinghy and outboard up and alongside to stop the boat slopping about, or for security reasons. You could double the same solution up to provide a MOB recovery system Experience which would be prudent. This has the added benefit of keeping this safety device top of mind and the crew completely familiar with how it is used.

If you do not have a spare tackle for this purpose, the mainsheet may be doubled up for this use as it already runs through multi-purchase blocks to a winch. Unfortunately, the problem with the mainsheet on many boats is that it is normally positioned too far forward of the boom’s after end. Using it to hoist from a central position can cause the considerable weight of a dinghy and/or outboard to exert an undue strain on the boom and could possibly bend it. To prevent this, take a couple of snap blocks and attach them to the boom so that the load is taken at the aft end where it can be supported by the topping lift.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Whistler.

Using a block and tackle to make dinghy launching easy

Using the mainsheet to remove engine from dinghy

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Add your review or comment:

Sidney Mcinerney wrote this review on Jan 29th 2010:
Another trick is to stick a few patches at key areas.Nobody wants a dinghy with patches on it.It looks un safe.

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