I have a very low tolerance for loud noises due to ear problems. I want to get a 12 or 14-foot aluminum boat and a motor, but I want the motor to be quiet.

How can I determine what type/brand of outboard gas motor would be the quietest? For example, are there any documents online that compare the decibels of various common motors?

  1. I'm flexible on the motor's horsepower. I really couldn't care less about how fast the boat will be -- I just want quiet.

  2. I'm aware there are electric motors on the market that would be very quiet. But from looking online, the cost seems prohibitive, especially here in Canada where things are often overpriced.

  3. I'm not so interested in wearing ear protection when I'm boating. I still want to hear my surroundings while boating.

  4. I'm aware that other kinds of watercraft could be an option. I have a canoe and quite like it. But I find my back gets stiff when sitting in canoes. So I'm interested in an aluminum boat so that I can stand up and stretch.

  • 1
    If you want quiet, and if you do not care about speed, and if the major impediment to a canoe or rowboat or sailboat is a stiff back with prolonged sitting, maybe it would be productive to consult a personal trainer for seated stretching exercises.
    – ab2
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 19:45
  • 1
    Electric motors range from $100 to $1000s, all depending on what all you need. Depends on use case, which you have not laid out here.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 20:12
  • 1
    What do you want to do with this boat? How far do you want to go in a day?
    – Manziel
    Commented May 31, 2023 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


As you already state, an electic motor is probably the best thing you could get. They might be a bit more expensive than equivalent gas driven engines, but they're lighter, the power is cheaper and they require almost no maintenance. Additionally, depending on where you intend to use it, use of a combustion engine might be limited by regulations, require registration or cost taxes.

A comparison of costs might help. https://www.torqeedo.com (probably the market leader for electrical outboards) has outboards of up to 50kW (which is probably to much for a 12ft boat), the price ranges from about $2000 to about $15000, which isn't so much above what an equal gas engine costs. Of course, you might get a good price if you can buy an used gas engine. Buying an used electric engine might be more difficult, just because there aren't that many yet. What engine power you need depends on the boat you want.

Of course, if you want it really quiet, buy a sailboat (or for the desired size, rather a sailing dinghy). They don't have an engine at all, hence no costs, no maintenance and no noise. Of course, driving a sailing dinghy is arguably a bit more difficult than driving a small boat with an outboard engine. And this might not be possible on narrow or strong flowing rivers, because sailboats need room to navigate.


There are websites with information and reviews on motors, but I think it might be easier to go to where the boats are and talk with owners and listen to their motors in action.

If you have a boat in a marina or are a regular on a water where there are more boats you will likely already know people who have a similar boat. If so, tell them you are looking to buy and are now hoping to hear several motors in use to see how you feel the noise.

If you do not know people with useful motors yet, go to a place where they are and talk with the owners.

Once you have experienced several you can compare that with the data you find online, because what is a quiet motor for others may still be quite loud for you, or you may be happily surprised by how quiet it is.

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