Troubleshooting an overheating engine

After steam started coming out of the exhaust, followed by a high temp engine alarm, It’s time to start troubleshooting the raw water side of a Yanmar 2GM20F engine. I take a look at the raw water strainter, raw water pump, heat exhanger, antisiphon valve and the exhaust mixing elbow. I don’t think the problem was just one thing, but a few things compounded together. One of the splines was missing on the impellor, another was cracked, and the heat exchanger was heavily scaled and partially blocked.

Engine Woes, and Good Sailing

Engine Woes, and Good Sailing

dinkgirlDue to the cold front that came through last weekend, our sailing plans were thwarted. Making lemons out of lemonade, we bought a new (to us) AB Navigo VS 8′ RIB. In our never ending quest for the “perfect dinghy”, I think we are on to #10 now. While we do still have the Trinka 10, it is far to nice to use as an “every day dink to row Atlas to shore while cruising”, and while the very good inflatable one that came with Serenity is perfectly fine and holds air, it is large. The AB is a rigid-inflatable, and is the right size. It is really solid, and we are actually quite pleased with it.

Serenity also came with a circa 1990-ish Nissan 2.5L 2-stroke dinghy outboard. Brian has pretty much rebuilt the entire thing. We looked at newer outboards, but prefer this one. It is lighter, there really aren’t many 2-stroke outboards around anymore, and I hate to throw anything away without trying to save it first. This outboard has been the bane of Brian’s existence- just when you think you solved one problem, another appears.

The weather has been phenomenal this week, so the plan was to spend one night at dock (so that we could properly test the new dink and rebuilt outboard), and to anchor out tonight. The dink test was not without a few hiccups- the outboard stalled after about 15 minutes (luckily, we were 100 feet from the dinghy dock, and a very nice gentleman offered us a tow from his Achilles.) I took Atlas to “mark many things”, and Brian got the engine going again. Off we went, and spent a good hour exploring the docks of our marina as the sun set without any further mishaps. Ironically, all of our boat neighbors did stopby afterwards to comment on the “new ride”. (They must think we are insane, as we have had the kayak and the Trinka out here as well.) While we were gone, Serenity’s ice maker did its job, and provided a fine medium for the celebratory rum and Cokes. (Review for the dinghy itself- well, it only took us 13 years to find the right one! It is great! It was an eerily calm night at dock- generally, there is a slappy halyard to be heard or boat wake, but there was none of that. After a slow start this morning (I swear time goes by faster on the weekends), everything was off kilter. Our boat neighbor left a few minutes before us, and threwall of his lines on the opposite side of the piling- this threw me off, and I spent a good 5 minutes cursing at him, the piling, my carpal tunnel, and the damn snubber on the line which makes it a pain already to secure. Which also threw Brian off, as he thought I had the lines secured. Brian was cursing at the Dragonfly chart plotter- “The damn thing- now our maps are jacked up!” (I remembered, “Oh no! We forgot the memory card with the maps at the house!”) Ugh. Apparently, we also forgot to pack our sea legs, as both of us were tripping everywhere on the boat. After motoring out and passing the minefield of crab traps, Brian noticed the white vapor cloud emitting from the exhaust. Chalked it up to perhaps the bottle of fuel cleaner he added. Me, “The engine sounds weird to me. Can you go check it?” “It sounds fine to me, but okay.” A few minutes later, “Dammit!” He discovered the sea water strainer had a leak, was sucking in air, and remedied it with a atlas-dinghytemporary fix. At this point, I remarked how we had so many bad omens that day. Brian gave me the choice, “Your call.” “Well, let’s motor a bit further… But it still doesn’t sound right…” Five miles into the trip, the engine overheat alarm sounded. Oddly, I remained calm and stated, “Okay, let’s kill the engine, and sail back.” At this time, a large pod of dolphins appeared as if to say, “Oh hello! We see you are having engine problems! Need a lift?” I think the entire moment of stress was lost with these guys- seriously one even kept just popping his head up, as if he was posing for a camera. I referred to them as “The Dolphins of Instagram” and the one who kept posing as “Hashtag- Creature of the Day”. Sails up, we headed back. The wind ended up being absolutely perfect to get us back to port. More dolphins (I think they were intrigued by the dinghy), and a sea turtle surfaced and swam next to the boat. When we were near the channel, we took down the main sail, and continued to sail into the marina with the genoa (which is a first). Once we were near our dock, fired up the engine and were able to back in and tie up without incident. Although our day ended up turning out pretty good despite these nuances, a joint decision was made to go to the land-based house for the evening. As for the Serenity’s inboard- it could be a number of things- impeller, exhaust elbow, the fuel cleaner, or karma for remarking how great the inboard has been running. Tomorrow is another day. Additionally, props to Atlas for not freaking out when the engine alarm went off! Everything happens for a reason, and I will say, I’d rather it happen in the Bay, which we know well, vice, in a strange place where we do not know the topology nor people.