Florida Outdoors featuring Dr. Kris Thoemke
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Alligator Hunting | Why They Call it Hunting | Florida's Other Crab | The Waiting Game | Mounted Memories
Eco-Touring in CC | Beyond the Largemouth Bass | Tying One On | The Big Cypress
Guide to Saltwater Fly Fishing in SW Fla | Four Strokes on the Water
Birding Big Cypress Swamp and the 10,000 Islands | Peace, Paddle and Hunt
Florida Outdoors

Article Index

Alligator Hunting: A One of a Kind Experience -
by Kris Thoemke

Why They Call it Hunting Instead of Killing -
by Kris Thoemke

Florida's Other Crab - by Kris Thoemke

The Waiting Game - by Kris Thoemke

Mounted Memories - by Kris Thoemke

Eco-Touring in Collier County - by Kris Thoemke

Beyond the Largemouth Bass - by Kris Thoemke

Tying One On -- Some thoughts on how to get started tying your own flies -- by Kris Thoemke

The Big Cypress: Adventures in a Vast Wilderness
-- Kris Thoemke spends the day exploring the Big Cypress National Preserve with Preserve biologist Debra Jansen

A Basic Guide to Saltwater Fly Fishing in Southwest Florida -- by Don Phillips

Four Strokes on the Water -- The sound of the future for marine outboards is likely to be much quieter --
by Kris Thoemke

Birding Big Cypress Swamp and the 10,000 Islands --
by natural history writer and photographer Jeff Ripple

Recycling Your Fish -- by Kris Thoemke

Peace, Paddle and Hunt -- by Kris Thoemke

 fish, camp, golf Florida outdoors

Four Strokes On The Water
The sound of the future for marine outboards is likely to be much quieter
By Kris Thoemke


"So anyway, I told him that it would cost big bucks to do that!"

"What did you say?"

I SAID IT WOULD COST BIG BUCKS TO DO THAT!"

"Oh yea, where did you see those deer?"

This conversation could be between two people in the waiting room at the local hearing aid clinic. It wasn't. The one I'm thinking of happened to two anglers as they zipped across the water in a 19' boat with a 150 horsepower outboard going at near full throttle.

The problem is not related to any physical defect in their hearing. It comes from the mechanically induced roar of an outboard motor revving at 3000 rpms.

Since powerboaters took to the water, the noise generated from the contraptions we hang off the transom have been enough to garble and discourage even the most ardent conversationalists. The only way to solve the problem turn the motor off which is fine if you want to be a talker instead of boater.

Finally there is an alternative to this annoying problem. It's called the four stroke outboard motor. For the mechanically deprived, a four stroke motor is the type that's in your car. Traditionally, outboards have been two stroke engines.

Four strokers are quiet. The boats I've been on that have one are so quite you have a hard time hearing the motor over the noise of the conversation. But the comparative quiet is only the beginning of the differences that set four strokers apart from the two stroke engine.

Jim Logie, the sales manager at Bay Marina in Naples, has been selling boats and motors for 30 years. He believes there is a place in the market for the four stroke motor. "They are ideal for pontoon boats and the new style catamaran hulled boats. These are level floating boats and the hull never leaves the water when they are running. Because of this you don't need a lot of horsepower since you aren't lifting the boat to get it up on plane; you're just moving the boat forward."

Horsepower is one of the limitations of four stroke engines. The most powerful one of the market right now is a 90 hp model produced by Honda. Yamaha and Mercury, the other companies making four stroke engines, only make up to 50 hp versions.

Motor weight is one of the reasons why. Four stoke motors weigh more and the extra weight can be a problem for some boats. A 50 hp four stroke Yamaha weighs 233 pounds. A 70 hp two stroke engine weighs 223 pounds.

People who want the quiet of a four stroke motor may find that the decrease of 20 hp without changing the weight might result in an under-powered boat. Switching to a higher horsepower motor may be an option on paper but the added weight takes away from the carrying capacity of the boat and may make the boat sit too low in the stern.

Increased fuel efficiency is one of the four stroke's major advantages. According to Logie, four strokers are up to 30% more fuel efficient, a fact which translates into a substantial increase in the cruising range on a tank of gas. .

More importantly, it adds up to a significant savings at the fuel pump. "If you keep your motor for any length of time you will pay yourself back for the premium of having a four stroke motor." The premium he's referring to is the higher purchase cost of four stroke motors.

There can be up to a $1000 difference in cost between the 50 hp (and larger) two stroke and four stroke motors. The only way to soften this difference is if you can use a 50 hp four stroke engine instead of a 70 hp two stroke model. Then the difference is about $400.

The environmental friendliness of the four stroke outboard may become one of the best reasons to buy. The US. Environmental Protection agency is working on new guidelines that will require outboards reducing the amount of pollutants discharged into the water.

Their most important concern is to reduce or eliminate the unburned oil that is an inherent part of the exhaust from all two stroke outboards. Two stroke motors do not use a recirculating oil system to lubricate the engine's internal parts. The oil in the gas mixture provides the lubrication.

Unfortunately not all this oil is burned during the combustion phase. What's left over is discharged out the exhaust and into the water. With an increase in the number of boats in Florida's waters, there is concern about the pollution caused by two stroke engines.

The beauty of the four stroke engine is that there is a closed oiling system in the motor. Four stroke outboards have a oil sump, an oil filter, and a dip stick to check the level just like your car engine. The exhaust contains no unburned oil so long as the engine is operating properly.

The problem continues to be getting the consumer to choose a four stroke or a two stroke. So far it's been a tough sell. "Ten years ago," Logie claims, "$10,000 would buy a 300 hp motor. Today the same amount of money buys a 150 hp two stroke engine or a 90 hp four stroke engine. If manufacturers can get the cost down then I think the four stroke engine would be a more desirable item." Manufacturers are starting to price the units more competitively and lower their weight.

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