Tom Hudson purchased his lightly used 1998 Mako in 2002 and loved the hull. But its 175-horsepower carbureted outboard was a dog. Hudson, who lives a bit north of Tampa, typically runs 20 or 30 miles into the Gulf of Mexico to dive and fish. “Four people, six tanks, weight belts and dive gear, that’s right about the limit of what Mako recommends [for maximum load],” he says. “The old motor would struggle with all that weight.” Thus, Hudson restricted trips far offshore to just two divers and one driver.
Recently his motor developed serious problems for a second time, so he looked around for a new ride. In the end, Hudson concluded that “that 221 is the best all around,” so he opted to repower with a new 200-horsepower Suzuki.
The new power handles his dive crew nicely, and he burns around 30 gallons of fuel per trip, down from more than 50 gallons with the old two-stroke engine. Top speed went from 30 mph at full throttle to 35 with four people and dive gear. For his $12,500 investment, Hudson expected more power but didn’t anticipate other advantages. “Now I have a new motor, a warranty and better fuel economy. It doesn’t smell, and it’s [better for] the environment,” he says. Hudson’s only regret: “I should have gone with the Suzuki in 2004 when that first powerhead blew up.”
Yet another bonus that Hudson hadn’t anticipated was the improved drivability with new electronic throttle and shift mechanisms.
“We’d rather rig a boat with fly-by-wire shift and throttle,” says Steve Miglino, co-owner of Richey Boat and Motor (richeyboat.com) and the man who rigged the boat. Labor savings help offset the cost. “You’re cutting your pulls [from motor to helm] to just one harness, and everything is plug-and-play.” Tying a GPS to engine gauges provides readings in miles per gallon, another money saver over time.