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Using a trolling motor on small boat

Apr 28, 2021
1
Schock Lido 14 Lake Buchanan
Hi, all. After years of sailing medium-sized Hunters (sold my last of those after a move a few years ago), I'm starting in with a Classic Lido 14, as a boat I can trailer and use to teach my grandsons to handle a sail. I'll be taking the boat out on Lake Buchanan in the Texas hills. There aren't any good choices for a permanent slip for a little boat like this, so I'm going to be launching her new each time out. Here's the issue: The ramp near my property on the lake has an available dock for loading, etc., but it's in close enough quarters that it's not an option to move from the trailer to the ramp under sail. I'd like to add a small electric trolling motor just to move the boat around in the inlet where we'll be launching. I've read some advice that a small gas outboard is a better choice, but in Texas that means registering and all the paperwork for being a power boat. My plan would be to just use the trolling motor to move the boat the 50 or so feet to the dock, and then offload it before I head out on the lake. Wondering how much thrust I'd need on a trolling motor to move a roughly 350 lb. (fully rigged) boat around in those limited circumstances. Thoughts? Thanks in advance for any help.-PK
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,411
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
.................... Wondering how much thrust I'd need on a trolling motor to move a roughly 350 lb. (fully rigged) boat around in those limited circumstances...............
Welcome to the forum!!

You can purchase an electric trolling motor relatively cheap. The minimum thrust rating can be calculated by by length and weight formula. So a 14 ft sailboat requires a minimum thrust of 36 lbs.
What size trolling motor do I need for my boat? - DC Trolling Motor

(length-10) x 6.4 + 10 = minimum motor thrust by length
Total weight / 50 = minimum motor thrust by weight
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,907
Hunter 26 Charleston
On a lake, you don't have to deal with currents. So if you are only using a motor to get in and out of the launch area, it will work. I've done this before with a Coronado 23 (many years ago). It worked just fine. Also nice if the wind dies and you are on the wrong end of the lake.:waycool:
 
Sep 15, 2016
606
Catalina 22 Minnesota
I am sure a trolling motor will work just fine. My concern would be with the battery when you capsize. I learned on a Lido 14 and those things are super light / stable so moving it around is no issue at all. May I ask why not just use a paddle for the 50 feet or so? Seems like a lot less cost and hassle.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,953
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I think the problem paddling a small light boat is the you have to lean to each side to make a paddle stroke and the boat will list as a result. If the main is up the boom will swing back and forth and be annoying not to mention the rudder flopping back and forth. I tried this on my Bandit 15 and it wasn't that effective. I would consider sculling. You could fit a half circle fitting on the transom and once you get the technique down move pretty effectively for 50 feet. Off Center Harbor has some Vids posted on this subject and you get to view a few free.
 
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Jan 19, 2010
9,907
Hunter 26 Charleston
Okay so.... one more thing to consider. Once you put a motor on it, you have to register it, display a registration number & tags and pay annual registration fees. COST and HASSLE
That might be another reason to stick with human power.
 
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Aug 10, 2020
327
Catalina C25 Rocky Mount
I used an old transom mount minnkota and small car battery the first couple times I ever went sailing. Worked fine. I had to go 250-300 yards in and out. Zero issues. Light, easy to remove and stow. The battery was from a mid 90s civic and fit directly infront of my trolling motor.

Gas was a definite upgrade for me, but you on a small boat, going such a short distance.... I think it would be ideal
 
Sep 8, 2020
45
Merit 22 Honker Bay
When the motor on my 3000 LB Columbia 22 self destructed I installed an oarlock on the transom and got a long oar. With a little practice I was able to scull anywhere I wanted to go.

One windless night I sculled 2 miles against the current without a great deal of effort. Your 14 foot dingy will scull easily.
 

WayneH

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Jan 22, 2008
854
Tartan 37 Pensacola Shipyard, FL
I used a trolling motor on my 16' AMF Sunbird for years. The 'bird was already titled so that wasn't an issue. But when I sold the 'bird and put the trolling motor onto my 8' Walker Bay, I had a Texas Game Warden give me a warning about registering the Walker Bay. I used a small AGM battery to power the trolling motor.

I still have the trolling motor if you want it. Just collecting dust here at Canyon Lake.
 
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Jun 25, 2018
3
Classic Yachts Chanute Classic 26 Folsom Lake
I used a 22 lb thrust Minnkota on a Taser to motor out of the dead air in an inlet ramp and get back across the lake if the wind died. Battery was mounted under the mid thwart and a dead-man switch.

Do use a dead-man switch for any smaller boat/dingy for safety. (momentary push-on switch).
 

MikeyJ

.
Dec 15, 2018
41
Hunter 23.5 Carlyle Lake
I've used a really small trolling motor on a boat that weighed 500 lb alone. I can motor around for at least a couple hours on a lawn mower battery.
 
Aug 5, 2019
91
Macgregor 26 S NJ
I use an older 12-volt Minnkota 48LB thrust trolling motor on my Macgregor 26S for electric-only lakes. It pushes me at three knots in light wind. I've used it the whole day (without sailing) at times with six people on board.
 
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Apr 3, 2020
134
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
I used a 36lb thrust one summer on my SJ21, and it worked great. I would recommend an AGM battery just because of the motion, you don't want to expose the plates during discharge.
 
Jun 8, 2004
8,847
-na -NA Anywhere USA
You have to ask your state if registration and/or titling is required. Virginia requires it even with a trolling motor
 
Jul 25, 2018
43
O'day 19 MK-II Weekender Narragansett Bay
I use an older 12-volt Minnkota 48LB thrust trolling motor on my Macgregor 26S for electric-only lakes. It pushes me at three knots in light wind. I've used it the whole day (without sailing) at times with six people on board.
Hey George,

What size battery (amp- hours?) did you use to motor around all day on your 26S with the 48 lb thrust trolling motor?

I've got a 1983 O'Day 19 with a very finicky 5 hp 2 stroke Mercury outboard that failed to start on a number of occasions as I tried to motor back to the crowded marina, making for long frustrating returns to the dock.

I'm guessing that a 48 lb thrust trolling motor would work for my sailboat as well based on your experience.
 
Aug 5, 2019
91
Macgregor 26 S NJ
Hey George,

What size battery (amp- hours?) did you use to motor around all day on your 26S with the 48 lb thrust trolling motor?

I've got a 1983 O'Day 19 with a very finicky 5 hp 2 stroke Mercury outboard that failed to start on a number of occasions as I tried to motor back to the crowded marina, making for long frustrating returns to the dock.

I'm guessing that a 48 lb thrust trolling motor would work for my sailboat as well based on your experience.
I think a trolling motor will work well if you aren't in big wind or strong currents. I use a cheap Walmart marine battery, I have two of them with my solar set up but I'm sure I could get by one battery for joyriding with the trolling motor. "All day" is with long times at anchor or just drifting while everybody is swimming or paddleboarding. One time while camping overnight anchored out I woke up and made breakfast, as I finished breakfast I noticed the wind really picked up, so much so that I decided to not raise my sails in it or dare try to troll-motor out of there as I knew that the electric motor wouldn't do it in that heavy wind. I waited it out two hours for a break in the wind and then trolled my way back to the dock.
walbat.JPG
 
May 18, 2021
23
O'Day Javelin Barnegat Bay, LBI
New to the site, still a sailing newbie relatively as well, this is exactly the conversation I was looking for. I'm on a small, narrow inlet off Barnegat Bay in NJ, have sailed a sunfish for years but recently upgraded size-wise to a used but hardly-used Javelin. Depending on wind/current sometimes I can't tack in/out on the sunfish, so I kept a little paddle with me, but of course that's not an option for a larger boat so I have to figure out best solution. Electric trolling motor seems the best choice, but the range of options is a little overwhelming. I'm assuming I need one that's saltwater rated, but not sure about shaft length/how powerful. Cheapest seems Min-Kota, they are all on backorder for weeks (supply chain problems with the pandemic, apparently), so looking for a used one or I have to drive to a dealer. I see George's tip above on what battery to get - any tips on the battery storage/housing? Any other safety features needed with a battery on board??
 
Aug 5, 2019
91
Macgregor 26 S NJ
Philly2DC2LBI, I don't know what the difference is between the saltwater & fresh water motors, like if it's just the paint? If it was just the paint you could paint it yourself with some Rustoleum or the like. You would want to put the battery by the transom, the trolling motors don't like long cords. I would put some kind of grippy pad to keep it from wanting to slide and maybe a bungie cord to keep it in place for when you heel, or a more permanent battery box install. I buy used all the time, craigslist, facebook marketplace, offerup... I think I paid $75 for my 48 LB thrust troller out of season (the time for deals). Keep an eye out at garage sales & flea markets also. I paid $5 for a 12 LB troller at a Habitat For Humanity store years ago and that thing still works great on my 14' crestliner V hull boat.