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March 06, 2014


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Mark, what are your thoughts on a wing engine. I know it would be an expensive project on an older trawler but I have been intrigued since I first saw one. I think it would be great to use as a generator and as an auxiliary for main engine trouble. I am all for the single engine for the lower fuel consumption and 1/2 the maintenance (oil changes, winterizing etc.)but I am afraid that potential engine problems will always be on my mind.


Thanks for the comment. I have captained a large trawler that had a wing engine although we never used it. I did run it up now and again just to make sure it was working but I never had to use it in 'anger'. As I recall the main engine was a 310 hp Cummins and the wing engine was a 75hp Yanmar saildrive which had a folding prop. The trawler was heavy and the wing engine would only push the boat at about 2.5 knots in flat water with no head wind. Nordhavn trawlers and others offer the owners the option of specifying a wing engine when the boat is built but of all the owners I know they have had the same experience as me and do not in fact use the wing engine at all. What seems to make the most sense is either a mechanical or hydraulic take off from the front of a generator. Most larger boats will have at least one generator on board anyhow so why not use this as the get home engine? One engine does two jobs and you are not carting around a second engine 'just in case'. If you primarily do coastal cruising then think of other options. A dinghy or RIB with a fairly decent sized outboard strapped along side the mother ship will often move the boat albeit slowly at least to a safe harbor downwind. This approach will not work out on the open ocean but for coastal cruising is perfectly feasible and one that I have use twice, once when I picked up a rope around the prop and the second when the main prop fell off, but the less said about that the better!

The largest Torqueedo electric motor (reviewed here last month), together with a generator, would make an interesting alternative to a second engine for get-home purposes, albeit an expensive one.

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