Our Outboard-Powered Pastime

Whether you’re the owner of a six-outboard Scout or sometimes borrow a dinghy powered by an antique Evinrude, we’re all really searching for the same thing: Adventure.

Daniel Harding

Daniel Harding

I pride myself on having a vast vocabulary in my writing quiver, but I was scrambling for Siri’s help just moments before a live video review of the Scout 530 LXF. “What’s the word for six outboards?” [Pause].

Siri replied: “Holy s---. Six? What has this world come to?”

Okay, fine, Siri didn’t say that, but thousands of show-goers sure did as they walked past the staggering center console with hex—that’s the word I was looking for—400-hp Mercury Verado outboards strapped to the transom.

If that wasn’t mind blowing enough, the owner of Hull No. 1 thought the 530 was so nice that he bought it twice. That’s right: two 53-foot center consoles.

“I don’t like getting passed on the water,” said Scout CEO Steve Potts of the company’s new super console, in what might be the understatement of the century. Cruising a boat that size at that kind of speed is an experience we’ll report on in our next issue.

Experience. That’s what our new magazine was created to capture. Perhaps no one personifies the outboard experience more than Tom Ireland. Tom read a recent Power & Motoryacht column I wrote about a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and modestly mentioned in an email that he made a similar journey when he was a younger man. He wrote a portion of the story for his yacht club’s newsletter and asked if I had any interest in reading it. “Why not?” I replied, honestly not expecting much more than some old journal entries.

A barrage of out-of-order links and documents landed in my inbox. It was the dead of winter here in Connecticut; I got a fire going and dug into the story that night.

I can honestly say that story—like all good stories—transported me instantly. The wintery woods outside my window melted away and I was in a 13-foot Speedliner with a 25-hp Evinrude outboard on a stranger-than-fiction, 1,500-mile journey from New York to Florida with a then-unassuming 16-year-old Tom Ireland. He didn’t have any photos from his 1950s trip-of-a-lifetime (how times have changed!) but the imagery from his words stuck in my mind. They were colorfully brought to life by illustrator Brett Affrunti and can be found in “A Boy and a Boathere.

As fate would have it, Tom would go on to find work—where else?—as a “service guy, then a salesman, then a service manager” for Evinrude for nearly 25 happy years. From there he went on to work for Mercury for another 25 years.

“I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into,” admits Tom of his Huckleberry Finn-type adventure. “I didn’t realize how unique that experience was. I didn’t have a dad, and when I got to be a sophomore in high school we were really short on money, so I moved to Miami to live with a family friend and went to school there. I didn’t want to leave my boat behind.”

“What was the biggest thing that trip taught you?” I asked.

“I have a whole different outlook on life. I’ve spent 50 years in the outboard business. It’s a wonderful—I hate to call it this—but it was a life experience, that’s what it was.”

Black rule - 2000 wide

Since our first issue debuted, we’ve added thousands of readers to our ranks. So I’d like to take a second and thank you for joining us on this journey—whether you own a pair of factory-fresh Scouts, or toil over a 1950s Sea King you traded a lawnmower for (see “Past Time” here) or, like me, you’re somewhere in between. As Tom reminds us, while hex outboards are fun—okay, a lot of fun—all you really need is a single engine and a propensity toward cruising outside the lines and you never know where you’ll end up.

See you on the water,
Dan

This article originally appeared in Outboard magazine.

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