Okay, so I've pretty much all but decided to pull the trigger on this. With this year's PFD expected to be around $1900, I'll only have to put a small chunk of my own cash into buying a new 4 stroke outboard for my Grumman Sport Boat. (And that will hopefully come from selling my 2 stroke at a later date.) We've discussed some aspects of this already, and, between Mainer's, KKAlaska, swmn, and a few others' previous input, I'm settled on a 9.9HP, Short Shaft, manual start outboard.
Initially, I was set on another Yamaha. Then Mainer (and I think FamilyMan had something to say for the Tohatsu, too) said check out the Tohatsu. I was skeptical at first, but, I've been reading forums and websites for about 2 weeks now and can find almost nothing bad about either Tohatsu or Yamaha outboards in that size. The worst thing I found about Tohatsu is that they idle like crap and may be very sensitive to fuel quality. (But that was about 0.5% of what I've read about them. Everything else, everywhere, by everyone is all rosy.)
So I posit the question: I want the Honda Civic/AK-47 of outboards. I want to weld the cover down and never put a wrench on it, ever (this is figurative; I know I'll have to change oil, plugs, lower unit gear oil, and water pump impellers regularly.) I want to drop it in wet cement and it will still go (again, figuratively). The Tohatsu is significantly cheaper (about $300 less) than the Yamaha (usually a warning sign) and has a better warranty (5 yrs vs 3 yrs.) The Tohatsu is also about 6 lbs lighter than the Yamaha. I already own one Yamaha (4HP, 4 stroke) that I think I'll be keeping as my girlfriend's dad wants it. Is there any validity to claims about Tohatsus not idling well or any other issues? Any reason the Yamaha is worth the price point difference? (Other than that I mostly like the one I have, and buying another Yamaha would mean fuel line and tank interchangeability, but to save a few hundred, I can rig up a quick disconnect that fits both brands.)
Next question is buy local or buy online? As much as I like to support local, there is a huge difference in price, huge. I can get a 9.8 Tohatsu shipped to my door for $2200; that's $275 less than the local dealer. I can get a 9.9 Yamaha shipped for $2400 or about $300 less than the local dealer. That's not exactly chump change. Which brings up my next question about local service. I've not heard much about the local Tohatsu dealerr, but what I have heard is bad. The only other dealer in AK is in Seward. Has anyone had any dealings with those guys? If so, what can you tell me? (There is a rule here about negatively commenting about a business, so I left their name out. You all know who they are, they're in Eagle River. Feel free to PM about your experience with them-I'd like to hear it either way.) The local Yamaha shop is Dewey's and they've been good the two times I was in there. (My 4hp Yamaha had a recall to replace the fuel fitting. They gave me all the parts I needed for the swap, didn't ask for my name, a letter from Yamaha, nothing. Just trusted me to bring the old parts back with my serial number when I was done.)
In the end, saving a 2-300 on one engine or the other isn't nearly as important as getting the most durable engine.