Last week unfortunately my outboard engine was stolen in the harbour. It was a 4HP, fourstroke Mercury which ran perfect.
I don't expect to see it back, but now I have to take decisions for next season.
I can buy a new (secondhand) engine, but am also considering an electric outboard.
Does anyone have positive or negative experiences with this?
Sorry to hear that the pond life have stolen your motor.
I've used a 50 lb thrust electric outboard for just getting out of harbour and back. Using an 80 amp hr battery I get around an hour running at setting 3 out of 5 (5 is max). The only downsides are that you have to keep lugging battery on and off the boat for charging and you only get around 3 knots speed, so not much good against strong winds and tides. But the motor is very light and you have no petrol cans on the boat. It also tilts easily so no resistance when sailing.
When I'm sailing in strong winds and tides, like in the Camel estuary, I fit my 2 stroke Yamaha 4hp engine which gives me around hull speed of 5 knots.
Sorry to hear about your loss. Happened to our outboard of the Shetland we used to have as well, insurance reimbursed a big chunk back then. But on our Seahawk we only have liability.
We have used a (undoubtedly Chinese) electric outboard engine on the Seahawk and that was not such a success. With a bit of wind the boat hardly moved at all.
This year we wanted to try a Rhino VX 54lbs, however, because of ongoing circumstances we had to get our Westerly out of the water and park behind the house and so vacation money went to the transport instead of boating.
So maybe you can give this a shot: http://link.marktplaats.nl/a1002589257 The guy only asks a small fee for letting you try the engine. If it doesn't work, no major loss and if it does you get reimbursed if you buy the engine (at a competitive price). Oh, and for my commission I'd like to hear the results - then we don't have to go try it next year!
Just to add to Brian's note, you'll find a report on the Minn Kota 50 on my boat at:
http://www.seahawk17.org.uk/boatshed/outboard.htm#minnkota There's a link in that report above that takes you to a page where I describe the solar panel I use, which removes Brian's problem of having to carry a heavy battery around.
I realise now that I should have mentioned that my experience is restricted to the Norfolk Broads and I use it almost entirely on the upper rivers where tides are not strong and effectively non-existent on the Broads themselves. Within the Reviews section of the site there's a paragraph by Tony Bennett which discusses how well it coped with strong winds on Hickling Broad.
I don't know how sheltered and tide free the waters are where you sail, but I think I would go for a petrol engine if I sailed in estuaries or the coast. It's also worth saying I know a number of Broads sailors who are perfectly happy with a 2hp engine. However, I would definitely recommend 4hp for coastal use.