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Mercury vs Yamaha...Why we made the switch!

Updated: May 1, 2023

We recently upgraded our dinghy engine and wanted to update you guys on the differences between the two.

Right before we bought the boat, there was a dinghy on Calypso with a 2015 Yamaha 20 horsepower engine, but it wouldn't start. This was when John owned the boat, so he had somebody work on it and got it to start, but it still wasn’t running great. Then, after a short period of time it was completely shot again. Right before we purchased Calypso, John actually sold that dinghy and bought a new dinghy with a brand new engine. It was the newest model (2017) of the Yamaha 20 horsepower. Immediately it had the exact same issues as the old one-- how frustrating!

The reason why these Yamaha's have trouble starting is because it has an electric choke. For those of you that don’t know, these work by heating up wax in a solenoid which then pushes a plunger down. In these engines, that solenoid fails pretty often, so once that happens, you are left in this situation. Since there is no manual choke on them, you have to sit there and crank it to warm the choke up (every little crank you do will warm it just a little bit). So I used to have to pull the cord about 50 times just so I could start the dinghy-- talk about a workout! Because of this, Brittany couldn’t even take the dinghy out by herself which was more than frustrating -- it was also a safety issue.

Another thing most people don’t think about is taking the dinghy out when seas are rough. If you decide to take the dinghy out on a rougher day, it’s imperative that you get away from the boat as fast as possible because the water is slamming you into the hull; you can't sit there for 30 minutes pulling on the cord. So, on those rough days when you would normally be able to hop in and go, you can't.

We tried to get a replacement solenoid, but Yamaha didn’t have any (likely because everyone needed to buy it since it kept failing), and this is when we decided to purchase a new engine completely. We did a ton of research about different brands and types. We knew we wanted to stay with the 20 horsepower because it's great for the kids-- we can pull the tube and wakeboard off the back since it's a powerful engine. The main change we wanted was for it to have an electric start. Literally all you have to do is push a button to get the engine to start.

We went with a 20 horsepower Mercury EFI with an electric start and electronic fuel injection, but had to wait 5 months to get it since it was on backorder. Aside from waiting for it to arrive-- It’s been AMAZING. It does have a pull cord just in case you need it, and a new feature is that it has an electronic fuel injection instead of a carburetor. We had to purchase the 12 volt battery to connect to it, and it fit in it’s housing perfectly safe from the elements.

Seriously-- taking the dinghy out went from the biggest hassle in the world to a complete joy. With our old dinghy, I think we missed out on a lot because it simply wasn’t worth the hassle. So now, we can’t wait to explore even more and see all the things we missed out on before!

To better protect the dinghy from being stolen we have the engine locked onto the transom as well as a big cable that goes through that lock. So we can lock the whole dinghy up that way -- with really good locks, of course. We also make sure to raise our dinghy up every night just to add an extra deterrence.

We were able to sell the old dinghy engine for $1200 which was a really good deal for the guy that purchased it, but we were happy to see that thing go! He was happy as well because with COVID, dinghy engines are in hot demand. It took us 5 months to get ours, so I can imagine how excited this guy was to find one as well! Once we sold that, our new one arrived three days later.

The cost for the new engine was $4,000 and the battery was $120 (but we had some coupons so it ended up being about $30). BEST $4,000 we ever spent! I mean, it’s basically our car to get from point A to B, so we are thrilled with the purchase and can’t wait for even more adventures!

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