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The last couple of days we have been observing our friends John and Kathy on s/v Oceana deploy their dinghy outboard engine each morning and then re-store it on their rail each evening. The job is made relatively painless for them with the help of the nice outboard engine hoist that they have permanently installed on the stern of their boat.

We do not have such a crane but a year and a half ago, I uploaded a video that demonstrated how we use our boom and main sheet to take care of this task. Although our procedure works for the most part, because the boom is not quite long enough to reach all the way back to the rail, it still does require me to muscle the engine up onto and off of the storage bracket, something that a smaller or weaker person might have difficulty with. I know it’s a challenge for me, especially in less than calm water!

Our friends’ nice system has me putting more though into streamlining our technique. The question is, how to do it without spending a bunch of money on a dedicated crane? The image below saved from the blog Toast Floats illustrates one method which could work, a homemade boom extension with a block and tackle on one end. I’m sure the extension will work like a charm but I’d prefer to have it built out of something a bit less bulky than the 2x4s shown in the image. While I’m brainstorming here on how to best do that, I’m open to comments and suggestions.


  1. Have you ever considered a davit system? If so, why did you not go with that system?

  2. PVC pipe? Maybe 3″

    • For where it rests under the boom you can hack the boom shape out of a “T”.

      • …and if you glued the “90” and not the “T” you could slot the short 3″ pipe to fit around your mainsheet if it’s the same as in this picture.

    • How much weight do you figure that would hold? I was thinking Aluminum bar stock.

      • If you added a 2″x 4″ cut down to fit standing vertical inside, and that pivot point went through it…..I’d stand and dive off of it! Plenty strong enough. Maybe even a 2″ pipe with wood inside would easily handle a motor. I’d test a 2″ first just by securing it somehow the distance you need it to extend and jump on the sucker, see how much it deflect with your body weight. I bet 2″ pipe with wood inside would be plenty!

  3. Hey you two,

    Why not swing the boom out to the beam, will it reach with the dinghy alongside?

    Failing that, aluminum square tubing. Easy to work with and much stronger than bar stock. You know?

  4. The boom extension in the photo is the work of Dr. Dean Conger,
    See “kluge”

  5. Please explain why it cannot remain on the dingy, on the davits. Perhaps better tricing? Granted I have smaller tender, but even in very large waves it never drags.

    Is it possible to hoist the tender higher, by changing attachment points or shortening tackle? I’m just thinking this might be a better place to spend the brain cells. I shortened the lift on mine about 8 inches and solved the problem. The trick was moving the lift points to the floor and using a spreader in place of a bridle.

    • I like Drew’s idea better, way less clutter in the lockers.

    • With the engine on the dinghy it can not be raised high enough to get the rub rail over top of the edge of the transom. This leaves the lower unit less than a foot out of the water and in any seas, it gets hit by waves. For short trips this is fine. For inter-island passages it is not good (see my last video). Believe me, I have worked at this. I admit that I do not have the lift points at the floor but even if they were, I suspect the engine would be in the way to get it any higher. Perhaps you could send me a pic of your set up?

      • Next time I’m at the boat. Basically we get the tubes tight against the davits. Of course, your engine may sit deeper, the tubes may be bigger, and there is also the RIB Vee. A 3.5 hp lower unit will catch less water than a 9.9 hp. But certainly you should be able to get the tubes to the davits. That will either be high enough, or not.

        Unfortunately, when the boat was built dinghies were a little smaller. But I do understand you dingy choice completely. The Chesapeake is different and as they say, different horses for different courses.

        Always compromises….

        (In this image I have the bow up but the transom lowered to drain water. Imagine the transom up level)

        (This image shows the spreader. You’re could be even lower, as mine places some of the load on the tubes and some on the floor, where you could go 100% floor. Even so, you can see that we can go ~ 3″ higher if I take one of the biners out of the stack, which I do off-shore. Even so, we are tube-to-davit and leaning inwards. You could go over 10″ higher if you needed. At some point the engine touches. Would rotating it help?)

        • The tubes on our dinghy are big but the issue is the engine. Look at the pics on this page and imagine the engine on the transom:

          There is no way to get the tubes to the davits with the engine in place. It can not rotate and there is no room. In addition to that, I prefer to have the weight off the davits for passages. That is the only time we worry ourselves about this.

          • Just brainstorming. I know you are there, I’m not and that you are practical guy. But a few more thoughts that might turn into something practical, with fermentation (or fermented beverage):

            * The transom davit attachments could be moved forward several inches (possibly the floor or just with blocks).
            * The engine only hangs inboard a few inches when rotated 90 degrees.
            * Tricing lines move ~ 30% of the weight of the tender and engine inboard, direct to the davit cleats. I can’t tell if you run lines under the tender; they really help when it’s bumpy.

            But yeah, I see the problem. That’s a big engine. For my purposes, I love my little 3.5 2-stroke that I can lift with 2 fingers.

  6. From the vid you two work so well togeather why change it? (I am guessing that you want to be able to single hand? but can you do this anyway?) Maybe change places now and again or use a halliard from the topmast? to lessen the stregth needed to keep the engine away from the main mast whilst you attach it to the mounting point on the rail? JMHO, Rob

  7. A simple modification to your existing method is to extend your boom by a few feet so that the lift point is directly over the outboard, so that you don’t have to take the weight with your own strength. You could do this by using a gin/whisker/spinnaker pole (whatever you currently have on the boat) and lash it to the boom for the task. Then, instead of attaching your mainsheet to the end of the boom, you could fix it to the end of this pole. Then, when you’re done you would have to remove the mainsheet, unlash/remove/store the pole, reattach the mainsheet and then carry on.

    Its all about compromise isn’t it? If you want to save money, it will cost you time…..

    Another solution might be to have Dominique (Trimaran in Tyrrel Bay Carriacou) make you up a purpose built lift from polished aluminum pipe. Mine was very economical, but I already had a 4X4 vertical post to attach it to.

    On the other hand, I’d give serious thought as to how you can lift the dinghy with motor higher in your existing davits.

    • Wade: I KNOW how much money you spend on stuff so when you tell me that something can be done “economically” I am suspect. 🙂

      We do not have a whisker pole so something would need to be acquired for the job anyway. If I am going to do that, I would make something for the task (like what is shown in the pic — although better) that will not require the setup time of lashing, etc.

      As for lifting it higher, I have given this a LOT of thought already. Years of thought actually If it were possible to do so with the current davits and the engine still on the dinghy, it would have already happened.

  8. Is the boom hollow? You could slide a piece of small diameter boom into it. When you need to you just slide the inner boom out to what ever length you need, attach a block and lift. Not sure if this would work but wanted to offer the suggestion.

    • That’s a good idea and in fact a particular boat design actually has that feature. Alas, our boom is not hollow. The reefing lines and related tackle run inside it.

  9. You need a product called Unistrut (to use instead of wood). My ex worked for them years ago when we were married and it is used to hang hospital x-ray equipment, among many other uses. Not sure how you’d get hold of any down there but it is available in Canada so maybe when you’re back for a visit….

  10. A gin pole vertically installed above the OB base will take the weight of the OB and direct it to the mount. As you ease the mainsheet you pull in the line from the gin pole. Imagine a V shape where the OB is at the bottom, the left side is the mainsheet and the right side is the line from the gin pole. So you would keep doing it the same way without having to take the weight of the OB at the end. If you have another winch available nearby, all you need is the pole with a block on top.

    • Hi Pedro. Unless it is a purpose built hoist, installing and using such a pole, at least as you describe it, is in no way easier than the item that I illustrated.

  11. D and Don svsoutherncross - Reply

    DAVITS – we love ours. Well worth the $500. to buy them used. Ours are cast alum made by Danforth. We had them powder coated for $170. We then bought 3/4″ starboard to mount them on for $47.69 Blocks, shackles and line were expensive, at $185.84 and then $38. for hardware. Total cost $941.53 We can send photos if need be.


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