Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Melanin Lenses

The seven vital sailing boat diesel checks

by John Jamieson on 4 Apr 2013
Making these seven vital checks first will give you a carefree sailing day .. .
You turn the key, push the diesel engine starter button and your engine starts just as you expect. But did you realize that you still have seven quick checks to make that could spell the difference between a trouble free day on the water or the challenge of sailing into your marina dock without an engine?

Follow these seven vital tips from marine diesel guru Peter Compton to add life to your costly diesel engine and keep it in tip-top shape all sailing season long!


Checks Within 30 Seconds of Engine Startup:

Make sure that the 'big three' below are checked right after your engine cranks up. If things don't look right, shut the engine down right away to prevent damage. Troubleshoot and fix the problem before you start the engine again.

1. Watch for Exhaust Water

Look over the side. Make sure you have water flow from the exhaust outlet. On some boats, the water will spit instead of flow. As long as you see water flow, your engine will stay cool.

2. Glance at Your Oil Pressure Gauge

Oil is the blood of your engine. Without it, your engine will seize up, overheat, destroy its innards, and be ready for the scrap heap in no time. Check the oil gauge within the first few seconds. Normal range lies between 40 and 60 psi. Often, your pressure will be higher at startup until the engine warms up.

3. Look for Smokey Exhaust

Diesel exhaust should be clear; older diesels may puff out a bit of light colored smoke. Black, blue, or white smoke indicate more serious problems that should be addressed right away. (See Captain John's Sail World article http://www.sail-world.com/CruisingAus/Sailboat-Diesel-secrets---Do-you-know-these-Smoke-Signals?/93771
for detailed explanations on what each smoke color may indicate).

Check the Remainder of Startup Essentials:

4. Feel the Raw Water Pipe

Look on the top, aft side of your engine for a bent pipe between the main engine body and the big exhaust hose. This raw-water pipe feeds spent exhaust water from your engine to the exhaust hose, which carries it aft and over the side. Place your hand on the bent pipe. It should feel warm to the touch. If cold (no exhaust flow) or hot (overheating), shut the engine down.

Check to make sure you have opened the raw water seacock. Inspect the sea water strainer for blockage. If both are clear, you might have a blocked intake on your hull.

5. Shine a Light for Leaks

Open the engine access hatch and shine your light from top to bottom. Look for leaks at the coolant cap, seals on the engine body, hose-to-fitting joints, high pressure hoses, and injectors. Drop to the engine drip pan. Do you see water or fluid dripping? Move aft to the packing gland. Drip type glands should have a drop or two each minute, but no more.

6. Inspect for Unusual Vibration

Before you cast off, check the transmission in forward, neutral, and reverse gear. Assign a crew to man the helm and engage the shifter at idle ahead, back to neutral, then idle astern. Your engine should move through each position without loud clunking of the transmission or excessive vibration.

7. Read Your Other Gauges

Once water circulates, water temp should read normal temps (about 165° - 180°--check your manual). Voltage should read between 12 - 14 and Amps should be on the positive (+) side of the 0. Check your manual for the manufacturer's specific recommendations for engine temperature, pressure, and voltage.

Make these sailboat diesel engine checks right after you start any engine. Your engine will reward you with reliable, works-every-time service, longer life, and fewer repair costs--wherever in the world you choose to cruise!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!
Barz Optics - FloatersPacific Sailing School 660x82 1Naiad

Related Articles

Cruising Masterclass at Sydney Boat Show - by reservation only
In two full days, 3 and 4 August, at the Sydney International Boat Show, the inaugural Cruising Masterclass will be held Maybe you know a lot about sailing, but do you know all you need to know for cruising? Are you up to date with the latest sailing aids? safety systems? Technology? Do you know all about snubbers, sentinels, Med Hooks? If the answer is no or maybe, then attend the Cruising Masterclass at the Sydney Boat Show, 3/4 August. You'll never regret it. It's free in the inaugural year but must be reserved
Posted on 17 Jul 2013
Inaugural Cruising Masterclass at the Sydney International Boat Show
In two full days, 3 and 4 August, at the Sydney International Boat Show, the inaugural Cruising Masterclass will be held Maybe you know a lot about sailing, but do you know all you need to know for cruising? Are you up to date with the latest sailing aids? safety systems? Technology? Do you know all about snubbers, sentinels, Med Hooks? If the answer is no or maybe, then attend the Cruising Masterclass at the Sydney Boat Show, 3/4 August. You'll never regret it. It's free in the inaugural year but must be reserved
Posted on 16 Jun 2013
CYCA Medical Management for Mariners 8th May, 2011
Sydney's Cruising Yacht Club Medical Management for Mariners course commences on 8th May, 2012 Enquire now! With the support of Sydney's Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 'Safety of Life at Sea Trusts' (CYCA SOLAS Trusts), the CYCA Medical Management for Mariners Course was launched in 2010 and is a specialist course that has been designed for sailors to manage medical emergencies when paramedic and medical assistance is not at hand.
Posted on 31 Mar 2012
'Beyond First Aid' - vital course for sailors in Sydney
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) will be presenting a one-session-only course, 'Beyond First Aid' on 03 April Whether racing, cruising or simply messing about on the water there is nothing more isolated than a vessel at sea should an accident medical emergency arise. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) will be presenting a one-session-only course, open to all, entitled 'Beyond First Aid' on 3rd April at the club house in Rushcutters Bay.
Posted on 27 Feb 2012
Royal Yachting Association courses - online survey
By taking part in an RYA survey you could be helping to change the way sailing skills are taught in the future. Have you been taking sailing lessons and have a view on what should be offered? By taking part in a survey for the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which certificates, not only schools in the UK but in many parts of the world and also is held as a model for many, you could be helping to change the way sailing skills are taught in the future.
Posted on 15 Feb 2012
Royal Prince Alfred's vital Marine First Aid Course, 11 December
The Marine First Aid course being offered by the RPAYC on 11 December could be vital one day when you least expect There's nothing more important for sailors than the ability to take care of an injured or sick crew member, and the skills required vary greatly from those from a normal first aid course. That's why, if you are anywhere within reach of Pittwater north of Sydney, the course being offered by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) could be vital one day when you least expect. Read on to see why
Posted on 3 Dec 2011
CYCA Medical Management for Mariners 11 October, 2011
Sydney's Cruising Yacht Club Medical Management for Mariners course commences on Tuesday 11 October, 2011. Enquire now! Accidents or medical problems can happen at sea and a sailor needs to be able to cope for longer than the typical emergency on land requires. Any well prepared sailor needs to have a set of skills to cope with any contingency. To overcome this problem the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, based in Rushcutters Bay in Sydney has developed the Medical Management for Mariners course.
Posted on 5 Sep 2011