• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Using a trolling motor on small boat

Apr 28, 2021
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
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
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
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
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.
  • Like
Likes: LloydB
Jan 19, 2010
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.
  • Like
Likes: sail sfbay
Aug 10, 2020
South Coast 22 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
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.


Jan 22, 2008
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.
  • Like
Likes: rgranger
Jun 25, 2018
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).


Dec 15, 2018
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
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.
  • Like
Likes: rgranger
Apr 3, 2020
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.