Sailing Tips – Checking The Sailboat’s Engine

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 7,551
    Mark Turner, Fleet Service Director with Offshore Sailing, provides tips and techniques for properly checking a sailboat’s engine.

    Mark Turner:Hi! My name is Mark Turner; I am the Fleet Service Director with Offshore Sailing School. I am here to talk to you about the five basic engine checks you should perform before get on the way. So here we have good access to our engine room by underneath the stairs which lift up. We have our fuel filter over here, we have a belt and we also have a raw water impeller. Some fuel filters may have a glass bowl on the bottom of the filter and if you see a clear fluid in the bottom of that bowl there is possibly water in the bottom of that bowl and you want to drain that off into a cup. To check for belt engine, if you press on the belt and the belt should not deflect any more than the width of the belt. The raw water comes in through a seacock cup and then through a strainer and then to the impeller unit here. Here is the lever for the raw water seacock and it is in the closed position right now, as its horizontal. I can open the seacock like so and now the seacock is open allowing raw water to flow to the strainer and then on to the impeller on the cooling system of the boat. This is our raw water strainer when the water leaves the seacock it comes to the strainer here, as you can see there is a little bit of seaweed in there and we are going to take that out right now. So to clean it we would first close the seacock, take the cap off, careful not to lose the o-ring and then we can easily take the basket out. You can see there is a little bit of seaweed in there and let me just take that out of that and so basket first and put the o-ring back on, okay. And then lastly that you cap back on and then before you restart the engine remember to re-open the seacock. You also need to check the fresh water side of your cooling system, is the system has coolant in it? This is our expansion tank and when the engine is cold the coolant should just be above minimum, all above the low, because this allows for expansion as the engine heats up and the coolant expands. You also need to check our oil level, so we are going to pull out the dipstick, initially I mean look at the dipstick, we want to check the oil quality. A little of black, that's okay, but if it looks like chocolate milk that means there is water in your engine, and you don't want to start it, call professional. To check your oil first we are going to wipe the dipstick clear and we notice there are two markers on the dipstick; low and high. We want the oil to be somewhere between the two. Not enough oil is just as bad as too much oil. I am going to re-insert the dipstick all the way down, make sure it's firmly placed inside the tube and pull it back out and check it. This way we get a proper check of the oil and we can see it's between the minimum-maximum, so this is just fine. Some spares you might want to carry a boater, coolant, oil, a spare oil filter, a spare fuel filter, a spare impeller, some gear lube for the transmission and the spare boat for the alternator and fresh water pump. And don't forget you are a sailboat and depending on the circumstances you can use your sails. 1