Need to know how to install an outboard motor bracket on a sailboat? Sailboats of all sizes can be fitted with an outboard motor bracket and motor as a primary source of propulsion or a back up for a permanent inboard engine. Larger sailboats typically have an inboard engine installed below deck to provide propulsion in situations when it may be unsafe to navigate under sail, such as a busy channel or around boat docks. Should the main engine fail, the outboard “kicker,” or backup, can be started and the boat can be safely docked, avoiding damage or a costly tow. Smaller sailboats can be powered the same way using a one-piece motor mount or an adjustable spring-loaded bracket that can be raised and lowered from the water. Outboard motors generate torque that will stress the transom of a boat, so proper installation is paramount.
- Determine the proper position of the outboard motor bracket on the boat transom. Ensure that the bracket does not interfere with the boat’s rudder and make sure the outboard motor shaft will be correctly submerged when in use.
- Mark the holes for the mounting hardware on the boat transom. Before drilling the holes, ensure that there is nothing on the inside of the transom that can be damaged or can obstruct the mounting hardware. Drill the holes, then glue a three-quarter-inch plywood backer on the inside of the transom with marine adhesive, ensuring to overlap the holes by at least one inch. The plywood backer acts as a large washer and prevents the mounting hardware from tearing through the hull. Re-drill the holes through the plywood.
- Install the outboard motor bracket on the sailboat transom. Apply a bead of marine adhesive caulk to the back of the bracket, then align the bracket to the holes in the boat transom and install the mounting hardware for the outboard motor. Tighten the bracket bolts and clean off any excess caulk that was squeezed out, then allow the caulk to set before operating the sailboat's outboard motor.