Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Sailboat Diesel secrets - Do you know these Smoke Signals?

by Captain John Jamieson on 9 Feb 2012
You don’t want to have to go home like this .. .
Did you know that that color of smoke from your small sailboat diesel engine could signal a line wrapped around your propeller? Or water in the fuel? Or too much oil in your engine?

When you first start up your sailboat diesel engine, look over the stern. Do you have a strong, clear flow of exhaust water? Do you see smoke coming out of the exhaust tube? Other than an initial puff or two, your engine should send out clean exhaust without any smoke. Colors point to problems like overloads, internal oil leaks, or contaminated fuel.

Follow this summary to identify problem areas and take the suggested actions to resolve the problem as soon as possible...

Black Smoke - Causes and Cures:

What you see are unburned carbon particles blowing out of the exhaust that creates a black cloud. Older engines may belch a belly-full or two, but no more! Read over these causes and cures...

* Clogged air filter
Remove the filter and replace. If cruising in an area where air filters are unavailable, tamp the filter on a hard surface to remove as much dirt and dust as possible.

* Plugged exhaust hose
Disconnect the hose from the exhaust and look inside the exhaust pipe opening. If it's clogged with carbon, this could indicate damaged internal marine diesel parts. Have your engine serviced asap.

* Wrapped line or Fouled bottom
Stop the boat, anchor, and remove the line. Clean the sailboat bottom. Both of these cause your diesel engine to work overtime.

* Over-sized boat propeller
Match the propeller to your engine under normal operating conditions. Avoid the temptation to fit the biggest propeller possible. Heavy passenger and sailing gear loads make your engine work harder than it should.

Blue Smoke - Causes and Cures:

Oil that has leaked into the combustion chamber will burn to produce a bluish smoke that belches from the exhaust. It's o.k. to see a puff or two when you fire her up, but more than this points to serious problems. Read over these causes and cures...

* Running engine at low RPM
Idle running prevents pistons and rings from expanding enough. This allows oil to leak into the combustion chamber. Run your engine at full RPM as often as possible to prevent this problem. Persistent blue smoke means your engine needs a professional overhaul.

* Crankcase overfill
Take care not to fill your engine oil past the high mark on the dipstick. Excess oil could leak into the combustion chamber.

White Smoke - Causes and Cures

Think white-water. White smoke indicates vaporized water blowing out the exhaust tube. And it points to problems in the fuel supply. Read over these causes and cures...

* Dirty fuel
When cruising in foreign ports, you may find that you need to strain fuel before it enters your fuel tank. Use a manual screened fuel filter funnel to remove sediments. These funnels are slow but highly effective. Take care with high pressure fuel hoses. Back off on the fuel-nozzle trigger to prevent spills.

* Water in the fuel
Check the fuel filter or filters for water and drain it before you start the engine. Keep your fuel tank topped off to 90% full. Replace the deck fuel-fill cap gasket every year and tighten down the cap. All of these measures will help prevent water penetration.

* Misfire on startup
If the engine misfires, but starts--this signals a compression problem. Often, an overhaul will be needed to resolve the problem. Sporadic misfiring signals dirty fuel or water in the fuel. Change out fuel filters. Drain the fuel tank, clean it, and refill with fresh fuel.

Captain John's Sailing Tip:
Add a good quality biocide to your fuel tank once a month. This cuts down on algae and other micro-organisms taking up residence inside your fuel tank. Keep your tank filled to 90% to discourage growth.

Learn the smoke signals that warn you of trouble to come on your small boat diesel engine. That way you can fix the problem right away before it becomes a major problem with big $$$ repairs later on.

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 for a free issue of the highly popular 'Captain John's Sailing Tips' newsletter. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles just like this, along with sailing videos, FREE e-Books and more!
Protector - 660 x 82Mackay BoatsNorth Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

Coast Guard Foundation receives donation from Ice Hockey Team
Coast Guard Foundation announced today that it received a donation from the Guilford High School Ice Hockey Booster Club The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that it has received a donation from the Guilford High School Ice Hockey Booster Club for $2,568, to benefit the Coast Guard Foundation’s Fallen Heroes Fund and Scholarship Fund.
Posted on 25 Feb
Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan