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End of an era for outboard motor users

By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON - | Aug 27, 2020

Owners and longtime fans of Evinrude outboard motors were quite upset to hear that parent company Bombardier Recreational Products decided to pull the plug on manufacturing engines. No more E-TECs.

The news was announced at the beginning of June. The present virus was the reason given for the closure. BRP’s new marine focus is on the aluminum and pontoon boat market, powering these newly designed craft with engines provided by new partner Mercury.

Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Tired of rowing Mr. Ole Evinrude, an immigrant from Norway, designed and built an engine and was awarded a patent for the “first practical and commercially successful outboard engine which brought the pleasure of boating to everyone” This 1907, 62-pound iron motor produced a whopping one and a half horsepower. Evinrude got his Wisconsin-based company up and running that same year with the Johnson Brothers start-up soon to follow.

The Evinrude and Johnson outboard names are like baseball and apple pie to most Americans. We grew up with them and to this day all across this country in garages, barns and basements, thousands of these early built (like tanks) engines still sit on engine stands and wooden sawhorses, ready for duty.

Mr. Evinrude passed away in 1934 and in ’36 Evinrude and Johnson companies merged to form the Outboard Marine Corporation. OMC declared bankruptcy in 2000 and its assets acquired by Bombardier Recreational Products in 2001. The Johnson line continued till 2007 then was finally put to rest with BRP focusing on its Evinrude brand and developing its E-TEC series of motors.

The first thoughts most E-TEC owners like myself had after getting the sudden bad news was, “Now what?” Parts? Service? What about warranties?

BRP states that it will continue to provide dealer support as well as honoring customers’ existing warranties and continue to manufacture parts for both the Evinrude and Johnson brands.

I’ve been using an early model 200HO (high output) model Evinrude E-TEC on my bay boat and really haven’t had any complaints or major issues with the product. E-TEC owners really enjoy the powerful low end torque, hole shot and top end the E-TECs provide as well as low emissions and good fuel economy.

I’m sure that Mr. Evinrude and the Johnson Brothers had no idea how popular and important their visions and designs would become with continued innovation, manufacturing and sales lasting well over a century. After surviving wars and stock market crashes, they also would have never guessed a worldwide virus would be the end of Evinrude.

Today’s outboards are truly state of the art, amazingly reliable and keep growing in horsepower. Suzuki is the newest big player in the outboard market and is attracting a quick and loyal following at a bit lower price point.

Still, with all the advancements, computer design, technology and reliability built into today’s motors, do yourself and your crew a favor, don’t leave the dock without tow insurance. It’s the best 200 bucks you’ll ever spend as a boater.

Put it this way, its 8 p.m. and your new high tech $25,000 engine won’t start. You’re dead in the water, now anchored and resting close to a mangrove shoreline. Your once happy crew, now sunburned, very tired, cranky, all needing a bathroom, some needing their scheduled medications, very hungry, up north guests out “for a short cruise in the new boat” with the new mother and now non-stop screaming baby, are now being eaten alive by Pine Island no-see-ums and Matlacha monster mosquitoes. There’s no drinking water left and you didn’t buy the tow insurance like your significant other kept reminding you about, for a month. You wave at other boaters for help and they happily wave back and keep going.

From new boat hero to Capt. Zero in just a few short hours. Don’t be this guy! Buy tow insurance before leaving the dock.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.