How to prevent emergencies on marine engine damage

Recommended material to shipboard

Author: David Medialdea
Twitter: @Davidsolediesel 

There is a regulation regarding safety equipment and material that we take on board, this are things that, in a extreme gravity situation at sea, can save lives. But … What about we anticipate the potential problem of the boat’s engine and when we solve it immediately?

If the marine engine stops responding, we are in a boat without a government, the best would be to be ready to make small interventions, repairs. That way we can start again the boat’s engine and continue sailing safely. This, in a car, would not be a big deal since we can call the crane, but on a boat in the middle of the sea and on difficult weather conditions, it is best to be prepared to react immediately and to prevent.

The main reasons why your marine engine can fail on sailing are:

Clogging of a pre-filter or fuel filter

Clogging of a pre-filter or fuel filter can be caused by small impurities that accumulates in the filter plugging it, causing a sudden engine stop. Replace the filter is a very simple operation that can be donne in a few minutes without any special tools.
Always carry a fuel filter in your emergency kit.

filtro decantador gasoil

High temperature on the boat’s engine.

A high temperature rise at the boat’s engine can lead to a shutdown or an alarm to protect the motor controller. A wear or damaged impeller will cause malfunction of the cooling system, and consequently an increase in temperature. The replacement is simple if we have the necessary equipment: a combined key measure of screw heads, a new impeller and cover gasket of the pump. You can read a step by step tutorial on basic maintenance of the boat’s engine.

rodete, impeller

Low oil pressure

The low oil pressure can result from a low oil level, which is as easy to solve as to add an enough marine diesel engine oil to reach the maximum level that is determined by the markings on the dipstick. The oil filter saturation particles may also cause the engine to stop or set the alarm. The replacement of the oil filter will not take us too long.

aceite motor marino

Power failure

The most common electrical faults are of easy diagnosis,just  follow a small protocol to locate the problem by elimination. The terminal of a cable that is not secured, a connector is not fully seated, or a sulfated terminal will be enough for our engine to stop. As an element to replace and keep in mind to take as emergency material are the fuses that apply to each engine, which usually will be located in the instrument panel.

Non functioning inverter

We may find ourselves with a blocked inverter or not correctly operating the selector lever, there are little things we can do when an inverter fails, but what we must do is to add oil to its highest level, because a low level oil will also cause malfunction.

Si we should have on board a small stock of emergency material  that will allow us to solve those ship’s situations in which the engine suddenly stops, and with little work we can set the engine running again to keep on sailing.

Not required emergency materials we should carry on-board:

You also might be interested in:

DIY marine diesel engine basic maintenance
Pre-sail checklist
Marine turbo failures and how to fix it

This post is also available in: Spanish

One Comment
  1. Replacing your filters are really important if you ask me. I’ve personally been guilty of neglecting regular upkeep and I paid dearly for it. By not doing my filters, I ended up with a bill for a few hundred bucks to replace some more vital parts. Thanks for alerting everyone to this potential roadblock!

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