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Author Topic:   23 Outrage - Kicker or Not a Kicker
hutchinson01 posted 02-14-2005 08:01 PM ET (US)   Profile for hutchinson01   Send Email to hutchinson01  

I was debating whether or not to install a kicker on my 23 Outrage. I currently have a 99 Yamaha 250 on the back. I called a Marina to inquire on a price, and he actually discouraged me from going through the extra expense. I am planning on doing alot of offshore trips and thought it would be nice insurance to have. The gentlemen's reasoning was the dependability of the Yamaha's and the option of tow insurance should I run into problems, he said it wasn't necessary. Ultimately I know it is a personal call, but would be curious to hear some others' opinions on the matter.
seasicknes posted 02-14-2005 08:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for seasicknes    
I believe in the kicker. Also believe in running with running partners. keep in radio contact and run back together also.

I do have tow service (boatus/vessel assist), but alot of times they are really busy and your in the queue. This means you got to wait.
Waiting times can vary. It could mean 1 hour or it could mean more than 8 hours. Just depends. Plus, those tow boats don't drive very fast to go get you.


Sheila posted 02-14-2005 09:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Sheila  Send Email to Sheila     
For offshore trips, a second motor is a good thing. I'm guessing that 250 can't be pull-started. Even a reliable motor isn't a lot of good if your batteries go out and you can't start it. Or if you lost something in your steering system, having a tiller-steered kicker could get you home.

A reliable motor is a wonderful thing. But problems can arise in other systems that render that reliable motor useless.

Trust your own gut.

rtk posted 02-14-2005 11:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I am going to put one on my 1997 21 Outrage that has a 2003 250 Mercury EFI, a reportedly bullet proof and reliable motor.

A consideration for me is having a backup, but also a motor to use at slow speeds, such as trolling and fishing jetties, or moving short distances to different fishing spots. The big V6 motors do not like to run at the low rpms, especially for extended periods of time. I think a 9.9 horsepower four stroke would be good to have since I do alot of low speed/ low rpm moving around with the boat. Plus if you drift fish, at times with no wind, you can use it to get a drift going on a dead day.

I cannot see a downside to installing one, disregarding the cost.


diveorfish posted 02-15-2005 12:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
I have twins on my 23’ and blew the head on one engine during a fishing trip. I was a few yards west of Alcatraz Island, in the San Francisco bay, making one last drift before heading to the marina. We were very close to the rocks and one of my engines failed. We were in about 3 foot seas in very windy conditions heading for the rocks. I did have my anchor but the water was about 60 feet deep and we were drifting very fast. There is no doubt in my mind that we would have run up on the rocks because there wasn’t enough time and distance to set the anchor well enough to hold. Fortunately, I have 2 engines and was able to motor out of harms way on one and get back to the marina as well.

The above is just one scenario. Stuff happens out there and you just can’t pull over to the side of the road when it does. That’s why I have a Whaler with two batteries, two engines. You never want to be without power in strong wind, waves, or currents, especially if you are in areas where you are miles away from help. The 23’ with a 250 hp will get you in the middle of nowhere in a hurry. If you are prepared, being miles away from civilization is fun.

A kicker is well worth the money as an insurance policy on your boat and maybe even your life. As to what size kicker, I’m not sure how small you can go but a 15horse would do the trick for sure. I’m not sure a 9.9hp would allow you to make much headway in a 3 foot head sea but I could be wrong.

gotaway posted 02-15-2005 01:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for gotaway  Send Email to gotaway     

Most of the posts talk about using two engines to protect from engine failures stranding you. What about fuel system issues. Does anyone use separate fuel tanks for each engine?
phoeker posted 02-15-2005 03:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for phoeker  Send Email to phoeker     
Kicker - I always felt better offshore knowing that should something go awry with the main powerplant (non-fuel related), I could fire up the kicker and at least make headway to get back to port under my own power. It might take 10 hours but at least I'm heading in the right direction.

No Kicker - Drift helplessly and wait for a savior, if you're within radio range and can call for help.

Lastly, I don't buy the "dependability" theory being passed by the gentleman who advised you. I'm guessing that you have a Yamaha EFI, which is a great motor, but still anything can, and will, happen on the open seas.

diveorfish posted 02-15-2005 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
ReFuel problems: To take care of fuel problems, some cat manufacturers have two separate tanks so the two propulsion systems are independent. I would have to guess that if there was a problem with the fuel you wouldn’t even make it out of the harbor would you?
hutchinson01 posted 02-15-2005 05:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     

Thanks all for the feedback. Kind of reinforced what I was thinking already. I guess my next decision to make, would be what size.

I understand that the kicker motors are geared a little differently than the run of the mill outboard. When I told the salesman I was looking to use the kicker also on a runabout, he told me that the kickers were geared differently than a motor you would use to power small runabout. Does anyone know how critical this is, if I decided to use a standard outboard? Any light you could shed would be appreciated.

Buckda posted 02-15-2005 05:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Hutchinson -

The most important factor for your kicker motor's operation is that it is able to rev to the rated RPM. This can be accomplished with a low pitch propeller. Using a lower pitch propeller will also increase the ability of the little engine to generate enough thrust to keep your big hull moving through the water.

I know that Kingfish put a Yamaha T8 on his classic 22' Outrage, and seems to be very happy with it. I'm not sure how well it would run into 3' headseas though.

The concerns about fuel problems are the best argument against twins that is out there....all other arguments can be defeated in favor of a twins or main/kicker setup.

RE: the fuel problem - having spare filters aboard should help prevent this from being a problem. If you're going offshore and this is a real concern for you, consider the RACOR filter with the clear bowl to drain water out of the separator. I would think that even with a terrible tank of fuel contaminated by idle speed, and regularly draining this bowl, you should be able to make it home.

rtk posted 02-15-2005 07:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
The kicker I am looking at, the Mercury 9.9 Pro Kicker has the different gear ratio lower unit (2.4:1 as compared to 2:1 or so) which enables it to turn a large 4 blade propeller. If the engine can turn a larger propeller with the same size powerhead, it will produce more thrust.

The Mercury Bigfoot models have larger gears and different ratios than their same horsepower brothers. They are designed to push the heavy loads.

The thrust is what you need to push the big boats with the small motors.

The Yamaha gear ratio on their kicker was something like 2.9:1 and turns a real big prop.

I do have the catalogues, I'll check the exact specs, just don't have time at the moment.


rtk posted 02-15-2005 08:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
From the 2005 Mercury outboard spec sheet.

Mercury 9.9 2.08:1

Mercury 9.9
Pro Kicker 2.42:1

"The BigFoot gearcase, available on the 9.9 FourStroke, features larger bearings, gears and propshaft for superior durability. The 2.42:1 gear ratio and high thrust four blade prop delivers outstanding thrust and low speed handling. BigFoot models are ideal for pontoon and heavy fishing rigs."

The Yamaha High Thrust T9.9 and T8 have 2.92:1 gear ratios. The F9.9 and F8 motors have 2.08:1 gear ratios, according to the Yamaha brochure. They also turn a different prop, they call it the "dual thrust prop".

The power head rpms will not differ between the motors. The prop shaft rpms will. Apparently slower prop shaft speeds with larger propellers will produce more thrust.

So yes, I would select the motor with the most appropriate gear ratio for your use. The larger props will also give more bite if you are using it offfshore.

They cost more, but seem better designed for the use you are looking for.


hutchinson01 posted 02-15-2005 08:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     
Buckda and rtk thanks for the good advice and the data on the kicker. It is a huge help. I was hoping to have a "dual" purpose motor, but looks like they are specialized for the task at hand. I'll start looking around at the two models you mentioned, and see where that takes me.
hutchinson01 posted 02-15-2005 08:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     
.. Another question. Would the kicker be more practical at trolling speeds? Would I want to use it in lieu of my primary motor? Better MPG etc?
seasicknes posted 02-15-2005 10:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for seasicknes    
how fast are you trolling ?
If its for salmon (approx 2.0 to 3.0 mph) then the kicker will be fine.
If your trolling for tuna (approx 5.0 to 7.0) then NO.

rtk posted 02-15-2005 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I do think it would be much more practical at trolling speeds, miles per gallon and wear and tear on your primary motor, especially if you do alot of trolling.

I guess it would also depend on what speed you troll. For my use, two/three or so miles per hour trolling for stripers and blues will be my primary use. I don't think it is real good for my motor to run it at 1000 rpms or so for extended periods of time. In and out of gear, low rpms. Wear and tear on the gearcase, plugs fouling carbon build up etc. With the kicker you can troll at even slower speeds than that without "bumping" the primary motor in and out of gear.

On a calm day with little wind, no smoke and less engine noise is a draw for me also.

Fast idle out of the marina, I think I am burning 2 or so gallons per hour plus oil with the primary motor. If you use the 10% of horsepower factor for fuel consumption at wide open throttle, the 9.9 would burn 1 gallon per hour at wide open throttle.

As a secondary motor, I do think the "kicker" designed motor is better suited. The lower gear ratio and the bigger prop will be better if you need to use it in some bad conditions to get back in. Less ventilation, better bite, etc. Having a "Plan B", even if the motor just serves the purpose of keeping the bow into the wind or waves until help arrives, seems worth it to me. I do have an unlimited towing plan. But sitting there for a couple of hours waiting for a tow abeam or astern to heavy seas is not a situation I want to be in.

If you are looking for more horsepower, the high thrust variations are available too. Mercury does have the BigFoot/High Thrust in a 15 horsepower, 20 more pounds heavier though, no power trim. I did not see a high thrust 15 offered in the Yamaha brochure.

This is all according to what I have researched, not on my actual experience with my boat. Makes sense to me, and I do think that is the direction I am going to go.


hutchinson01 posted 02-16-2005 07:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     

Thanks all. I would be trolling for bluefish, stripers and tuna. So I guess at times it would be practical to use the kicker.

Buckda posted 02-16-2005 07:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Using the kicker for trolling, when appropriate (speed is the primary dictator of "appropriate" is a good idea all around. Consider the cost of a new 9.9 HP motor vs. a new 200 HP main motor. Fuel economy is also an important and beneficial factor in favor of the kicker as well.

There are drawbacks - additional weight on the transom and increased maintenance time/costs (winterize two motors, etc..) however if you're a fishing person, this is a very good route to go.

If you find yourself far offshore for fishing on a regular basis, I believe a better route is twins...but that's another story, and in the meantime before that big main motor you have wears out, the cost savings of a small kicker far outweigh the risk/benefits of repowering now with twins.

I had the opportunity to spend some time last fall on Kingfish's 22' Outrage "Outre" with main 225 Evinrude 2 stroke and Yamaha T8 four stroke kicker. That little motor was the perfect solution for running in the no-wake zones and had plenty of thrust.

Check out his article in the reference section - setting your 23 up like that would be a great solution for you, and I think you'd be very happy with it. I know John is.


Joe Kriz posted 02-16-2005 08:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     
I'm suprised that you didn't give the link. You usually do. You must be busy.

Here is the link to kingfish, (John Flook) great article. If you want electric start and power tilt, his instructions are the way to go:

If you don't have the need for electric start of power tilt, then try this link:

The fastest I can move my boat is about 6 to 7 mph with the kicker which should put it in range for trolling for tuna. Some other fish require 9 to 11 mph for trolling. Then I believe you would have to fire up the big engine no matter what. Any kicker will not move the boat faster than about 7 or 8 mph.

kingfish posted 02-16-2005 09:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Can't add much other than to confirm how happy I am with the T8; it was/is the perfect solution for me on Outré, with the possible exception that if I had known I had access to everything else the T8 offered, but in a 9.9 HP motor, that's what I probably would have done. The grass is always greener, right? The T8 will push to almost 6 MPH, not quite hull speed, and I think a 9.9 would get us all the way there. (Then I could keep up with Larry Goltz when we're idling round the no-wake zones on the various Great Lakes Rendezvous!) The T8 is a dandy though and really does everything I want it to.

Ironically I found (actually laid my hands on) a Yamaha T9.9 at the Toronto Boat Show a couple of weeks ago. It had everything the T8 has; 4-stroke, hi-thrust, electric tilt, remote control set up, etc. It is only available in Canada, not in the states, but has apparently been available there for as long as the T8 has been available here. As frequently as I am in Canada, I could have snagged one of these had I known about them. Oh well - next project...

andygere posted 02-17-2005 02:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I'd find another marina. Something is wrong with a sales guy that tries to talk you out of a $2k+ purchase. Get the kicker. You'll troll better and cheaper, you'll save wear and tear on the 250, you'll have emergency power when you need it. If you are fishing for blues and stripers, that means shallow water at times. Tilt the main, and sneak over the flats on you kicker, which draws less water. If you do ding the prop, it's a smaller, cheaper prop to fix!
Buckda posted 02-17-2005 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Joe...I guess I got lazy...been juggling some other projects that cropped up...recall on my truck requiring immediate and emergency repairs...rangling with the dealer for a loaner and arm wrestling with the service advisor...projects on the boat looming with an uncooperative West Marine location here in Chicago (ordered a part on 1/5 and they still don't have it!).

All that and I'm varnishing Mahogany in the basement! So yeah, I guess I've been busy!

hutchinson01 posted 02-17-2005 10:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     
Thanks for the advice. I am definitely going with a kicker.
bigjohn1 posted 02-18-2005 08:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Hutchinson, if you have your mind made up - go for it. I could not honestly say that a kicker wouldn't help you and indeed many here have offered additional benifits to having one aside from an emergency source of propulsion (trolling, drift fishing, etc).

Homing in on the point about a kicker getting you back home when your main engine quits, that CAN be true and sometimes its of little use in getting you back home. On running twins, I know more than a few boaters who used to run twins and who had one engine go out. They point out that they made it back home due to the fact that they had a second engine which got em home. While this can be true, you need to look at other factors that can come into play. Not everyone who loses an engine has that happen due to some factory part mysteriously going bad. It happens far too often due to faulty or non-existent owner maintenance and upkeep - I'm not saying this is the case always but it is a big contributing factors oftentimes. I am making the point that some who have twins (or a kicker) get lazy on the upkeep and regular running of BOTH engines to ensure both are always good to go.

First some out here in the middle of the Pacific (Guam) with very little land and lots of deep blue ocean, the #1 priority for boaters here is taking meticulous care of their primary engine. Kickers used to be very popular here until recently when the heavier (and arguably more reliable) 4-strokes took over the outboard market in Guam. I'm not saying that some still don't run kickers but they are becoming the exception and not the rule. While some may be undoubtedly scratching their heads at this moment and readying their keyboards to flame me on this, read the following list of reasons I have witnessed that kickers can be little if any help in getting you back home. Since you are presumably buying a "new" kicker, I'll omit the reaons that apply to used kickers

1. Situation: Boater wants to save as much money as possible on a new kicker. Due to the dealer offering him a great deal on a certain size kicker, he unknowingly buys a kicker that works great in calm water - but marginal in rough seas.

Result: When he lost his main engine 16 miles off-shore, the kicker he got such a good deal on barely allowed him to hold course in 5' seas and 20 mph winds. He ultimately notified the Coast Guard who in turn got a Navy search and rescue helo to go find him. They locate him, winch him up in the basket, and leave his boat adrift. Luckily, the next day he was able to retrieve his boat with assistance from a friend (and a strong tow line).

2. Situation: Boater has fitted his craft with an adequate size kicker and feels confident in going off-shore as he has a back-up engine. When the main engine goes out 23 miles off-shore, he goes to fire up the kicker and it won't start. He hadn't done any maintenance or fired up that kicker in the past year.

Result: This rocket scientist had no installed vhf and no communication with land. Luckily, his wife notified the CG and told them what fishing grounds he was at and they found him after a 72 hour search of the Philippine Sea. He ultimately lost his boat as the Navy helo crew that rescued him had no way of towing it back - he lost the boat and some Filipino on Mindanoa Island likely had a 16' Maritime Skiff wash up on his front doorstep 2-3 weeks later - "finders keepers".

The above two stories are two of scores that appeared in the Pacific Daily News (Guam's local newspaper) between 1996-1999. Admitedly, many of the other stories ended on a better note as they simply called a friend (or were with a friend) who towed them in.

My point is a kicker and enjoy it but make sure you get one powerful enough to actually move your boat at an acceptable speed when the seas kick up. Do not get lazy on maintaining your main engine just because you have a kicker. Start that kicker up and actually use it at least for a little while each time you go out. Just like on the main engine, do not skimp on manintaining your kicker. Flush it out just like you do the main engine if you run in salt water. Factor in that if you get a 2-stroke kicker and have a separate small tank with an oil/gas mix, maintain awareness of how old that fuel is since you will likely not use that kicker as much as you might think.

Several of the older and well-respected trollers here consistently and safely go out to our farthest fishing spot from Guam which is 53 miles from shore - something I would never try in my 170. All but two run single outboard motors (formerly 2-strokes but now all 4-strokes) and only about half of these bother running kickers. I listen to these guys when they speak as they have the experience. Of this group of perhaps eight, two did have a single unavoidable mechanical breakdown in their years of fishing - one was with an old Merc 2-stroke in the 80's and one was with an OMC 2-stroke in the 70's. Here is what they preach time and time again as the reasons for their historically good safety record:

1. File a float plan
2. Maintain your engine meticulously because it is your lifeline. There is more to this than simply flushing it out after use and puting it away.
3. Have a VHF and all other safety gear.
4. Run with "buddy boats" when far from shore.
5. New (according to them) for the 21st century - Have an internal GPS equipped epirb.

For what its worth.......

rtk posted 02-18-2005 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Excellent point(s) bigjohn. Agreed, the best prevention for mechanical problems at sea is maintenance, maintenance and more maintenance.

Spend the money on outfitting the boat for offshore use before the addition of an auxilliary motor. Proper safety equipment and planning will by far be of more value in a bad situation than having the auxilliary power.

And I also agree that if it does get real bad out there a small auxilliary motor will more than likely not serve the purpose of getting you home.

Another "tool" to have in case of an emergency, yup. An absolute solution to an emergency situation, nope.

I also like to idle up and down the many lagoon neighborhoods and marinas in my area and look at the boats and houses. On a nice quiet evening I am sure the property owners do not share my appreciation of my big growling and a little smokey V6.

Slow speed trolling, putting around is my primary purpose. If it can get me out of a pickle that's a bonus.


hutchinson01 posted 02-19-2005 09:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for hutchinson01  Send Email to hutchinson01     
Big John, RTK

Thanks for the sound advice. I am new to boat ownership, and have found this forum to be of huge assistance. Trying to cover all the bases before getting out on the water, and it is nice to have people that are extremely helpful and willing to share their knowledge. Thanks again!

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