Falmouth Cutter Auxiliary Power

As a follow-up to my earlier posting regarding my Falmouth Cutter, I have had the benefit of discussing the issue of auxiliary power with a number of individuals, including Ron Walton, Roger Olson, and Gary Felton. Ron and Gary are current and previous owners of Falmouth Cutters, respectively, and Roger of course is intimately familiar with the boat. I thought it would be useful to pass along the information I have obtained on the issue in the hope that it would benefit others and/or stimulate additional discussion and input on the subject.

To remind readers, my Falmouth Cutter has no engine. I currently use a sweep oar as auxiliary power and am considering the addition of an outboard motor. I do not want to add an unsightly transom bracket to the boat so I have been searching for alternative ways to mount or utilize an outboard engine.

The first question is what size outboard would be appropriate for the boat. Eric Hiscock and Larry Pardey state that 1 hp per ton is adequate. Tom Colvin, a well respected naval architect, suggests half a horsepower per long ton (2,240) pounds for an ocean-cruising sailboat and one hp per long ton for a coastwise cruising sailboat. The recent trend of course is to have additional horsepower and current writers ofter recommend much more. I prefer to have as light an outboard as is reasonably possible, that would certainly argue for a smaller and lower hp unit. A one hp per long ton standard, for a Falmouth Cutter would mean something on the order of 3.5 to 4 hp, less of course if one were to use the half hp per long ton standard.

Another consideration is whether to go with a 2 or 4 stroke engine. Four stroke engines tend to be more expensive per unit of horsepower and also heavier than their 2 stroke counterparts. Conversely, they are more environmentally friendly and offer considerably better fuel economy. Newer models have a better hp to weight ratio than earlier models. I have also heard that 2 stroke engines have better low end torque than their 4 stroke counterparts.

As to a bracket that is aesthetically pleasing, I am still working on finding an acceptable solution. I have spoken with a tradesman who is trying to figure out
a design of adequate strength that could be easily attached and detached to the transom, boomkin, or a side mount. I have yet to come up with a solution that is acceptable.

An interesting combination is one involving a dinghy and outboard used as a tug to the mother ship. Gary Felton used a 8 foot inflatable and 5 hp outboard and lashed the dinghy and outboard to his Falmouth Cutter. This arrangement was used successfully for many years. The dinghy was lashed to the aft quarter with fore and aft spring lines with the engine in line with the transom. He would start, stop, and control the outboard from the cockpit and would steer using the rudder. While underway, he would tow the dinghy and outboard if the weather was cooperating, otherwise the dinghy would come aboard and be stored below and the outboard was stored on a bracket on the boom gallows. This solution is one that I am seriously considering and would be interested if anyone else has used this arrangement for auxiliary power. I understand that the Pardey’s have successfully used this type of setup on Taleisin.


This will be an attempt to provide an image showing the Bristol Bronze outboard bracket as fitted on Cape Dorys and other small yachts. It is a rather simple arrangement suitable for 5-6hp. The installation relies on resting on a taff rail or similar but I don’t think it would be suitable for a vessel with boomkin/ bullwarks, etc. The removeable portion pivots up 90 deg. and lifts out of the deck fixture.
If you do come up with a bracket that suits you, you’ll want ready access to the outboard. On a full keel boat you must be able to articulate the engines’ trust while (attempting) going astern.
If you are coming and going from a slip then the powered tender/ tug is probably not terribly practical. Something like the 2.5 hp 4 cycle Honda would be worth looking at. It has a transmission/ fwd/ neutral so reverse is obtained by pivoting the engine head around 180 deg.

Stern view 1.JPG


I looked at the bracket from Bristol Bronze. If it would work, it would be a rather elegant solution to the bracket problem. As you point out, I don’t believe it would work on the Falmouth Cutter given the higher freeboard, the concern about mounting it on the taff rail, and most importantly, the limitations imposed by the boomkin. I’d be interested in hearing if anyone feels that this solution would work on the FC.