• Steven Hopkinson

We were all set to go sailing when...

We were all ready to go on a sailing and snorkeling charter on the south side of Roatan earlier today and when we went to start our Beneteau's Yanmar engine, from the moment it cranked to life we knew there was something wrong. The sound was off. It was tinny, warbly, definitely off. But we'd run the engine the day before to make sure everything was good after our stay in the States, so we cast off and started out into the bay, but before we even got turned around and pointed out to sea, we knew there was something very wrong. It wasn't just the sound, it was the smell, which was also way off. The engine didn't sound happy so we listened to it, turned around and limped back into our slip, profusely apologizing to our guests for what we hoped would be a momentary problem with our engine.



When we went down below, our first thought was to check the sea strainer, which we'd checked before we left to make sure it wasn't clogged with sargassum, only instead of seeing water bubbling up around inside the container like it normally did, there was nothing. No movement. No water coming up into the water pump. So we used a lifeline and called a friend and after a consultation got ready to take a look at the sea water pump impeller. Only, when we went to shut the seacock and close off the water supply to the pump, we found it was stuck, frozen, unable to move more than a micron in one direction. Because, of course it was. That's just how things go on boats. And when we got the screws from the water pump back out, the flow of water down into the engine compartment was, let's just call it generous.



So we tightened the screws back up, pulled out the good old emergency automatic bilge pump, stuck it in the engine compartment and tossed the hose up the companionway stairs out into the cockpit. Then we popped the screws off the back of the water pump (no longer caring about the copious amounts of water pouring down into the engine compartment since the pump was quickly routing it up and back out to sea) and as soon as we had a look at the impeller, we knew that we'd found the source of our problem. It was stripped bare. Looked like something hungry had chewed all the blades off.


Can you guess which is the old one?


So we swapped in a new one, thankful that we had two spares on board (after last changing one of them back on the third night of the crossing from Key West to Isla Mujeres when we thought the engine was overheating), tightened everything nice and snug, and when we started the engine back up again, everything worked like a charm. Sure there was some real nasty looking stuff that came coughing up out of the exhaust port at first, but within no time it was producing a good looking, nominal amount of exhaust. More to the point, it sounded right. It smelled normal. We watched it for a bit, to make sure all was good and we didn't have any leaks, and before long we convinced ourselves the engine was good for now.



When people ask if our dogs are spoiled...

Only by then our guests were gone. We couldn't ask them to wait around all day watching us attempt to fix the engine, and while they had some fun chilling out cuddling with Fozzie Bear, eventually they decided to pursue alternate plans for the day. We're many things on City Dogs but we're not exactly fast mechanics. We get the job done but there's always a bit of plodding involved. A good amount of head scratching. And usually a fair to middling amount of cursing involved. Still, we're glad that we isolated the problem, got it fixed and will be ready to sail again with some amazing guests tomorrow, hopefully this time without further complications from our trusty Yanmar engine...

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