two stroke censure II


Following my suggestion in PBO that using two strokes is probably immoral I receieved a great email from Mr Kett - a fellow creek crawler and man of perspicacity who makes some excellent points

here is is

and inserted my responses


Dear Mr Kett,


Bless you for taking the time to write. It shows that you are deep thinking person and a man of interests that are clearly very close to my own regarding exploring creeks in small boats.  These are wonderful environments teaming with life and the most delicate of life forms. To see the wildlife in such places is a privilidge that only us small boat sailors  are at liberty to appreciate.


If I may I would like to deal with your most excellent email which makes many good points



In Jan 2013 issue of PBO Dylan Winters believes using a 2 stroke outboard in confined waters should be a crime. 


Correct. I think that they should be banned from places where their noxious pollution is likely to do damage


The article from his environmental point of view cannot go unchallenged.


Good plan, Everything should be challenged

I was brought up in the 1940´s and 50´s in rural Lincolnshire in a cottage without electricity, gas or mains water. Horses were the prime movers on the farm and everything else was done by manual labour. Life was very hard but NOTHING outside of what we had was NECESSARY, other than for an easier life,  but we were in balance with nature.


Times change. But some of the creeks we sail are almost unchanged since the days when you and I were young in the 50’s. Long may they remain that way.
Now to the article contents.
1. Dylan conclusions is based on a 50 year old designed outboard....


Seagulls first appeared in the 30’s and the design was so astonishgly  successful  that they hardly changed it.  So it is essentially an 80 year old design


More “modern” small two stroke designs are the ones that use concepts of 50 years ago.


(Seagull which was not necessary to overflood to start)


I have been a Seagull owner and observer of seagull users over several decades. I have yet to see an owner start one from cold without depressing the float and causing spillage. I am not saying it is impossible to start without…. But it is nearly always done. If your experience is otherwise then I would be pleased to hear more about it.


.... which he had on a 16´  boat on the Norfolk Broads. Why did he have any engine on such a small boat when a pair of oars would have done the job?


Given your undoubted experience I am sure that you are correct. I could dispense with the engine on the Broads completely. But the tides run at up to two knots in places and exploring thr broads in the winter without an outboard is hard to do.  Rowing a 16 foot drop keel trailer sailer with cabin is a tough ask. Perhaps physically you are able to do such a thing. I cannot.
It appears in the past others have disagreed with his view by saying wasting resources in making new 4 stroke outboards to replace perfectly good 2 strokes is also not environmentally sound.


The old recycling argument is a good one save that it has several flaws.  Certainly some of this planet’s valuable resources  will be used in effectively melting down a two stroke and re-forming it into a newly cast and machined four stroke. However the resulting machine will be better engineered, more fuel efficient and less polluting than the one it replaces. Fpr each Hp it produces then it might weigh a little more.


I assume Mr Kett is aware of the engineering  principles – but to sumarise  - two strokes have simplified the engineering of engines by  using the cylinder passing a port instead of proper valves.  This makes the engine lighter and simpler.


But this simplicity comes at a massive price.  The two stroke cycle produces an imperfect burn because the cylinder is not properly purged between power strokes.  The four stroke cycle can create an almost perfect burn because one of the four cycles is devoted to purging the cylinder.


Simplicity, reliability and   a great power to weight ratio come at a price.

You get more unburned fuel and oil spurting out into the water than an equivalent  sized four stroke.

In addition, four strokes are at least a third more fuel efficient than their  two stroke equivalents.   The two strokes spurt  a mixture of spent exhasit gasses and the oil and water mix straight into some of our most environmentally sensitive areas. The places that us creek sailors enjoy so much.  Certainly four strokes also create pollution but far less of it goes into our creeks.


 2.He counters that by saying 2 strokes can be recycled. Dylan obviously does not demonstrate that belief as he has kept two such outboards himself.  Surely not to ever use?


I agree. To keep the two two stroke outboards in my garage is an act of hypocrisy . The engines are a ratttly single pot Yamaha with many, many hours on it that has been with the boat since it  popped out of the mold. The other is a a 6Hp two cylinder Evinrude that I inherited from my Uncle. It is  a beautiful bit of engineering. It hums, it sings, it is widely regarded as one of the finest outboards ever produced. The Evinrude is a machine in perfect balance whereas the £1100 Tohatsu single pot four stroke I recently bought is a rattly thing – but it is twice as fuel efficient as the Evinrude and much less polluting.


I also have a 2.3 hp four stroke Honda which cost me £299.


So I agree, two strokes are  lighter, more reliable, longer  lived and quieter than the four stroke equivalents.


My justification for keeping the Evinrude as a back up is that it only has a couple of hours on it.  If  the Tohastu does give up on me half way around Cape Wrath and I had to call out a life-boat then  the RNLI rib that arrives first would be powered by two stroke outboards. . If I can self rescue using the two stroke then that sounds like a reasonable excuse for keeping it.  However, it will never be my day to day engine.  If this is hypocrisy – guilty as charged.
3.  Does his modern 4 stroke outboard not pump out into the confined waters polluted exhaust gases invisible to the naked eye? Does he not feel that position is hypocrisy while filming sensitive areas?


I do know that my four strokes are less polluting than if I were to be doing the same trip using  two strokes.  I think my fuel consumption would be almost doubled. I would certainly need to carry more fuel for the 40 mile passages I do my best to avoid.  In addition all that wasted fuel wiould have been spurted into the gbroads, Blackwater, Walton Backwaters and the sublime salt marshes of North Norfolk and the Wash.

4. He states he has owned  engine driven lawmowers etc and a dishwasher which cause  pollution unneccesarily. Push mowers, cycles and a bowl come to mind as would hand shears if he has electric hedge clippers!


I still drive a car – but in the past it had  a 1.6 litre  engine and I used to drive 50,000 miles a year.   I now drive a 1.0 litre Polo  and do about 12,000 miles a year.


Changing over from a two stroke outboard to a four stroke would be good for your pocket and good for the environment. It is such an easy win. It  would mean owning a slightly heavier engine that could only be laid down on one side. If British sailors are not prepared to make even this tiny concession then God help this planet.
No Dylan, like me your are a practical man with environmental concerns but please  do not belittle the 2 stroke outboard in your arguement re the environment. The largest most fuel efficient and least polluting engines in the world are in fact 2 strokes and a modern fuel injected one is any match to your ´clean´ 4 stroke ones.


There are no small direct injection two strokes available yet.

Keep creek crawling and producing the enjoyable articules and enjoy your modern easier lifestyle without too much guilt re the planet.


As a 58 year old man I now know that we only get to go around this hamster wheel  once – so it is worth enjoying it as much as you can. While you can.  My journey around the UK is an indulgence and I am a hypocrite, but my days of spurting an oily fuel mix into our most sensitive environments are hopefully done. I wish that you and others would make the same commitment.

S. Kett. (Creek crawler)


$(KGrHqRHJDgFC7+YnhpsBQ))ScUv(w~~60_35 0711p30-Longest-Seagull-Race-in-the-World jam089

This is about Dylan Winter's Blog. Tags:

11 Responses to “two stroke censure II”

  1. 31 January, 2013 at 3:08 amal thornton says:

    I have 2stroke etec and it is 3 star polution proof.

  2. 31 January, 2013 at 9:41 amChris Potter says:

    Most large cargo and passenger ships use two stroke engines he he he!!

  3. 31 January, 2013 at 10:33 amdylan winter says:

    etecs only come in large sizes I thought – it is the way ahead if weight is important – but not sure if they have worked how to scale them down yet

  4. 31 January, 2013 at 12:53 pmPiracetam says:

    The majority of four-stroke outboards feature sophisticated computer engine management systems and fuel injection for good performance across the power band, low emissions, and unparalleled fuel economy.

  5. 31 January, 2013 at 1:23 pmalan says:

    Two like minded people having a discusion with positive words and no slanging. Great to see. Not many people are doing what you two are. So that leaves for very little damage. I can see Dylan sailing as much as possible,only using the engine as a last resort.I am sure mr Kett does the same. I plan to change my seagull for a four stroke. Good safe sailing to you both ..Alan silhoette.

  6. 1 February, 2013 at 11:54 amstuart d says:

    I’ve got an old seagull. It’s a treasure of utilitarian beauty. I don’t use it much but keep it alongside the other engines that go with the polywotsit boat fetish I seem to have inherited

  7. 1 February, 2013 at 4:35 pmkev briggs says:

    I Say ‘ love your Seagull’. I do. Well looked after they work beautifully. Scraping them is like scraping an old car that has plenty of life in it to buy a newer , more eco car. Think of the polution caused to produce the newer marvels of technology, and how long will the new marvel last????

  8. 1 February, 2013 at 6:36 pmJustin says:

    I have 2 outboards, both 2 strokes. I sail on the Bristol Channel wheretides are real.

    I only use the motors for my tender and getting on and off the mooring or into harbour.

    I have 2 because one is on the transom of my Pandora 22 and the other is either on the tender or can be dropped into the outboard well in the lazarette if the main outboard fails. This I have needed to do 3 times in 8 years.

    The environmental impact is minimal, but the Bristol Channel isn’t like the Broads.

    I only use about a gallon if that each year. The outboards being 2 strokes are lighter and therefore don’t adversely effect boat trim as 4 strokes would.
    I agreed that 4 strokes should be used on mobos but on sailing boats that mainly sail I feel 2 strokes are more sustainable as to replace them the production of the new engine could never be offset against the fuel savings.

    Dylan, your endeavours and blog/videos are wonderful. I love them and they are a wonderful antidote to life in general but on you view of outboards I must disagree but then I don’t use seagulls but a 4 hp mariner and a 3.5 ho tohatsu.

    Happy sailing

  9. 2 February, 2013 at 2:55 amal thornton says:

    They are out with a 15 hp etc this year and hope they will have a 9hp soon. Thanks for your good work.

  10. 2 February, 2013 at 9:02 amdylan winter says:

    on their way down thruough the hp

    wonder if they will get small enough for me to buy one before the end of ktl

  11. 17 February, 2013 at 5:19 pmJan Baggerman says:

    I plead guilty to owning two British Seagulls. Both have stories attached to them longer than their short shafts. The smaller one, a blue fuel tank equipped clutch type 4 hp model was sold to me by the 1975 Management at Poole at a very kind price in recognition of some efforts I had made to defend the make against unjust and unfair attacks in the Dutch consumer press. They had tested a Seagull slow revving large prop workhorse against high rev nervous high speed engines and drawn false conclusions from an unsuitable test method.
    The larger of my twoSeagulls was more than once borrowed by a wooden boat builder for towing leaking heavy hulled craft across the lake we used to live on against wind and waves when NO OTHER OUTBOARD MOTOR would do the job.

    By the way, a rag under the carb while cold starting wasoften used to catch the overflowing fuel. Admittedly, no four-stroke o b,s were available at the time, so the moral issue was simpler if professional jobs had to be done: an Effective engine or No engine.
    The same line of thinking at the time was followed by fishermen along England’s south coast, I remember. Rusty long shaft Seagulls with large slow pitch props pushing heavy displacement hulls.
    Guess which make of o b engines were used in the D-day landings?
    The Red Phone Box should be preserved. so shouild the red pillar letterbox. And the Seagull.

Leave a Reply to Jan Baggerman