If someone asked me, say, a year ago, to envision diesels powering a fishing boat, I'd probably have
seen either a big ol' 50-foot Viking with a walk-in engine room or a mid-engine wooden panga
chugging smokily out to a crab trap in the Caribbean.
But the new, turbocharged 1.7L DTI diesel that has resulted from a collaboration between Cummins and
MerCruiser has changed that thinking.
Last spring we visited the Stingray plant in Hartsville, South Carolina and checked out the 200MS, a
20-foot center console with this powerplant paired with the MerCruiser Alpha One drive. Instead of having
the conventional attached engine, it's driven through a jackshaft, a 28-inch shaft, that puts the inline
four-cylinder engine up under the helm seat. I expected a rumbling, slow ride, but that boat got on plane
in less than seven seconds and accelerated quickly to its top speed of 42 mph—not bad for a 120-hp
The second encounter with this power was in a twin application on a 22-foot Angler, another
center-console, at the Mercury press intro in Nashville, Tennessee last November.
This boat practically flew on plane and easily achieved speeds in the mid-40s. I asked our driver
Frank Africa, MerCruiser's sales manager, to slow down and head downwind on one motor. We achieved a nice
slow troll, with only an occasional whiff of diesel fumes—certainly no more than one gets from a
standard gas sterndrive.
I'm convinced that these diesels are an option for Great Lakes anglers who may be looking for a new
boat or—especially—to repower an older one, although the retail tag of around $11,000 each
night might dissuade the price-conscious. Thing is, there are an awful lot of older fishing boats from 22
to 26 feet that can be had for very little cash, but are in need of new power. With the optional glow plug
kit, you've got a simple piece of machinery that will get you out to and back from the fishing grounds in
any kind of weather. You can use these engines to heat air and blow through your helm, and water for a
hot-water washdown. The diesels are low-maintenance and give a boat with a smaller fuel tank considerable
range, getting much better mileage than most gasoline-powered sterndrives.
Great Lakes Angler Magazine