Please select your home edition
Edition
Mackay Boats

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 SW
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!
Insun - AC ProgramProtector - 660 x 82RS Sailing 660x82

Related Articles

41st Annual Wooden Boat Festival - Overall report
Tall ships and everything in between—North America’s largest wooden boat festival celebrates its 41st year Tall ships, paddleboards, kayaks, tugboats, and everything in between—North America’s largest wooden boat festival celebrates its 41st year on September 8–10, 2017. Demonstrations, presentations, plays, music, dancing, and great food—this is a weekend of fun for all ages
Posted on 17 Aug
Coast Guard, locals launch search after empty, homemade raft found
Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England also activated the Rhode Island Taskforce for assistance. The Coast Guard launched a search for a possible person in the water Saturday after an unmanned, homemade raft was found drifting in Mt. Hope Bay, near the mouth of the Taunton River on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border. A good Samaritan alerted Coast Guard watchstanders to the empty raft at about 7 a.m.
Posted on 13 Aug
Early-storms one indicator of active Atlantic hurricane season ahead
Today NOAA issued the scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Today NOAA issued the scheduled update for its 2017 hurricane season outlook. Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.
Posted on 12 Aug
Keep the water out with Zhik’s new Superthermal Hydrobase
The lower arm and leg of the new Superthermal Hydrobase is made from a water-repellent, stretch woven fabric We’ve all done it - and fished a rope out of the water, pushed the rudder down or stepped down the slipway one foot too far and gained that unwanted wet sleeve or leg.
Posted on 9 Aug
Coast Guard searching mid-Atlantic region for 73-year-old sailor
The Coast Guard is searching for an overdue French sailor between North Carolina and New York City Wednesday. The Coast Guard is searching for an overdue French sailor between North Carolina and New York City Wednesday. Watchstanders in the fifth Coast Guard District Command Center in Portsmouth received a report at 7 a.m. that a 73-year-old sailor named Joseph Calland aboard the 39-foot sailboat Nennette is overdue.
Posted on 3 Aug
Int Moth Worlds - Zhik returns to its spiritual home at 2017 Worlds
Zhik is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships Zhik, the innovative sailing apparel specialist, is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships. And, ten years on, the Moths are returning to their spiritual home on Lake Garda. Zhik and the International Moth class are virtually synonymous with each other.
Posted on 20 Jul
Cheeki Rafiki - Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter
Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter The Director of Stormforce Coaching, the company that ran Cheeki Rafiki, is set to face retrial for manslaughter over the deaths of the four crew. They were 700nm from Nova Scotia, returning to Southampton after racing in Antigua when the keel feel off. It is said that previous groundings had weakened the keel bolts....
Posted on 17 Jul
Rytov continues to defend lead at 2017 Melges 20 European Championship
On the eve of final day at Melges 20 European Championship Russia's Igor Rytov & his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command On the eve of the final day at the 2017 Melges 20 European Championship, Russia's Igor Rytov and his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command. Thanks to a very consistent performance thus far, they are inching ever closer to capturing the top European title and trophy.
Posted on 15 Jul
Get better wave forecasts from PredictWind and ECMWF
Predictwind is well-known for accurate wind forecasts but now leads the way with accurate wave forecasts PredictWind is well known for its world leading accurate wind forecasts, but did you know Predictwind also leads the way with accurate wave forecasts?
Posted on 12 Jul
Centennial Transat builds bridge to a flying future
The Queen Mary 2 won its battle with the four 30-meter trimarans, as expected, in upwind conditions for the sailboats The race was timed to mark a hundred years since American troops arrived on the shores of France in WW1, and it also brought together all of the fastest Ultimate trimarans for the first time as the class begins to take flight.
Posted on 7 Jul