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Old 26-05-2021, 09:28   #1
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Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Hi, i thought about starting a new thread on my specific current diatriva.

Im relatively new to boats, living and traveling on them since two or three years. Currently in Bremen, Germany, working on my steel sailboat before heading for a journey around Europe to the Med, via the North Sea.

I have a Bukh 20 diesel engine that came with the boat. It doesnt start since 4 years, seems to have compression, but the electric was a mess and i have disconnected some cables that where underwater in the bilge, i also dont have the start key for the motor... and i m no mechanic. So.

Every sailor i meet says its a great motor, and that i should make it run. But i m here, living on board, wanting to just go cruising now with this boat (new to me). And i have no money.

So im not a mechanic and i live and cruise with almost no money. Like, really no money. I dont pay to have the boat in places, i do exchange with the people in charge every time. It works for me.

My feeling is to just take this motor out, maybe sell it cheap, and get a ton of storage more on board (i need it, i travel with my tools and instruments).

I do have a brand new outboard from yamaha, a present from a friend, but its only 4PS. It runs smooth, and has maybe 15 hours of use. The boat weights maybe 4 to 5 tons.

So i can only go with the current using the outboard, when its calm. I mounted it in the stern on the portside. I built a nice motor mount so that i can get the motor and propeller out of the way while sailing and in doing so, it also doesnt interfere with the windvane.

My logic is that being no mechanic and having no money, i shouldnt be relying on a diesel inboard engine at all.

Other people can, because the either can fix the motor themselves, or have acces to workshops, or the money to pay specialists.

But in my specific case, i believe a big heavy motor that i dont understand nor enjoy working on, may not be for me.

Even if i could make it start, it would be a big economic effort to invest on the filters and oil needed for a minimum service. And if anything breaks at some point, i will be clueless on how to fix it, not to mention my unability to buy spars.

I also dont like much sharing my vital space with a motor. Nor the prospect of dragging a propeller while going under sail. Nor the holes in the hull. Did i mention that i ve got rid of the galley and the sea toilet in all my boats?

Now the question: am i crazy ditching the diesel? I know it can save your life/boat and also make your life easier...

But in my experience, and i am a long therm traveller, carrying expensive and heavy stuff that i cant fix... is a no no. Even if it can be helpful sometimes.

All other matters on board, i can fix, and i do fix myself. Woodwork, metalwork, stitching, etc. I m just no mechanic, and i dont enjoy working with motors. I can build and fix a windvane, a sculling oar, dismantle a carburator from an outboard and clean the chiclets, but i struggle to see myself dealing with the big heavy diesel motor.

To cruise with a tiny outboard will require better preparation and study of the passages, but i feel its the right thing for me. I would like to hear your take on this one.

By the way, im now working on the boat before i depart from Bremen direction Mediterranean.

There will be a fair amount of North Sea southerm coast from Bremerhaven to Bres. Thats the bit that wil require more careful planning i m guessing.

Then there is the bit of Biscay, which i hope to sail no later than July.

And then a more relaxed leg i expect, down the portuguese coast.

Im looking for people who may be interested in joining, but i will start a different thread for that.

I post this thread because some times, even if i have good reasons to do or dont do something, somebody comes with a clever/different perspective that either changes my mind or convinces me to proceed with the way i was already thinking.

So far all threads i started in the forums gave me a variety of new insights for which i m very thankful.


Thank you in advance!
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Old 26-05-2021, 09:35   #2
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Have you actually moved the boat with this motor yet? Do you have any steerage in perfect conditions?

Not sure what you think is going to be more difficult on a diesel engine than rebuilding the carb on the outboard?
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Old 26-05-2021, 09:40   #3
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

If all your problems with the diesel are wiring issues (which includes the lack of a key), re-wiring should be rather trivial if you get the manual for the engine or engine circuit diagram.
As for removing heads and galleys, I know few people who want such a masochistic experience for their vacation time. Good luck attracting other human beings to sail with you.
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Old 26-05-2021, 09:46   #4
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Sounds like you have more time than money and could read/ask about how to fix your motor if you were so inclined. May not cost too much to get it running. If not, remove it and go motorless. Others have done this.

Have you tried the sculling oar yet on your boat or is your boat too heavy? Not thinking the little OB will help you too much and you will need to depend on your sailing skills to move around. How well does your boat sail?
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Old 26-05-2021, 10:40   #5
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Hey! Thanks for the replies!

SeaStory: i didnt actually moved this boat, but i moved a similar boat (hullshape, weight, material) last winter through tidal waters for five consecutive days using the small outboard. Stearing was fine. Just needed to calculate tides and docking/locks manouvers, and went with the current.

The diesel is heavy (240 kg) and located in a way that makesitreally uncomfortable to work on it. In contrast, i worked on outboards before: just bringing them on the cockpit or cabin, and striping them as needed. Ifi couldnt fix it, i could put it on my bicycle and ride somewhere where somebody could. I cant do that with the diesel.

PirateGuy: i ve got the manual in english and german (my mother tongue is spanish) and its dizzling to read and try stuff on a motor that is so uncomfortable to access. I did got a little bit understanding from the manual, but the electrical part is like chinese to me. All those abstract symbols put me off. I can watch somebody do something, and i learn fast. From the manual i m very slow. Dont know why.

The masochistic experience hahaha, is for life! I dont actually go vacations since i dont have a job to get relief from really. I just travel everywhere, its my daily life since 26 years having no toilet and no galley.

I can see how it could be difficult for people not used to it. But i bake very good pizzas and on a daily base on a pan in a home made single fire stove. I also brew exquisite indian masala chai in that fashion.

As for the toilet, growing up with native (south) americans made it easy for me to transition to the bucket boat system. Toilet paper is like a comodity here in Germany, where people rush to the stores every pandemic to buy tons of it . I use water instead, feels definitively cleaner with water than all smeared with paper.

As for attraction of human beings... the opposite sex has prooved attracted enough, but i believe thats more related to my display of self confidence (even when most of the time i dont really have a clue of what i m doing) and maybe my guitar playing skills

I mostly single hand. Ocassionally a girlfriend comes on board for a few days. So far so good. As for the passage this time, it will have to be a bunch of savages like me, i guess

Bill O: you are right i do have time and i barely use any money. I just really dont enjoy messing with the diesel. Although i m trying to force myself to learn it. Its just not flowing. And i am trying. Maybe i do manage to learn.

Yes! Sculling oars are a very nice thing! I built a prototype of a AD sculling inspired oar last year. I was travelling with a small sailboat, only 1 ton, 5,5 meters. I was going from the north sea to the med via de canals. Germany and Neatherlands was ok. Then the old outboard i had died. After a week of trying to repair it, i ditched it, together with half of my stuff.

I continued sculling throuh the dutch waterways for 15 days. Amazing experience. A very good workout, too. This particular oar i built propelled us about 1 and 1/2 knot and i could kept about 6 to 8 hours of paddling a day, because the load of each stroke was so small.

For crossing big canals i often needed a pull. Eventually a good friend who learned about my adventure sent me the new yamaha to the neatherlands. I continued through Belgium and France wih the 4 PS, but that was a small boat too. No sailing in the canals. Just sculling and motoring.

About my current boat, i have a single oar (normal oar) that i put on the stern some times to practice the bermudan style of sculling over the stern. Since its a normal oar, and i dont currently have a notch, its not often that i get the write cadence to get the push while keeping he oar in place. I do manage for brief moments. I need to practice more.

My feeling is that yes, a proper sculling oar, a yuhlo, or like last year, a vertical AD sculling oar could move the 5 tons at a minimal speed. Not for a full day like with the small boat, but for getting in and out of port in perfect conditions, sure.

I m very inclined to ditch the diesel. I know its a thin line i m walking.

I ve put the mast down at low water for inspecting the rig and doing a small canal passage.

Didnt sail the boat yet, but i saw the plans and i like the lines, it has a fairly long keel, albeit not full, and a skeg hung rudder. It should keep the curse while i go forward to reef the main after leashing the tiller.

The rig is simple, with a rollfock and a main, just two simple winches in the cockpit and a winch in the mast. Low friction set up, no spagethi on the cockpit. I would like to add a second stay to have the choice of ridding a storm sail when needed instead if relying on a reefed furled fock.

The way i see it, the boat is a far better sailor than i am.

But since i m a fast learner by experience, i have trained the ability to focus and stay focused for very long periods of time, and i ve been a few times out there and loved every moment (including the **.ked up ones) i believe the trip this summer may end up being a good sailing school for me.
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:11   #6
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

the key is just a simple switch you could, in theory get rid of the key and opt for a push button. and a kill switch. all the key does is energize the starter. once a diesel is running. it wants to stay running as long as you keep feeding it fuel and air.



i really think you are overthinking. if a diesel has compression and fuel. it WILL run.


I don't like sweating in the bilge working on things, I don't like compounding the topsides, I don't like playing seamstress. But I absof#ckinglutly love sailing. We tend to overlook the hatefull aspects of owning a boat knowing that we love the main reason for owning a boat....


yeah the engine is heavy, yeah its uncomfortable to work on, but how often do you think you'll be working on it, once you get it running. Take your lumps early. get it functioning and then get on to the next task...



IMO a diesel isn't any more or less complex than an outboard.
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:32   #7
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Hi,

I pulled my 352 LB Bukh 10 diesel from my boat in 2011 which was 10 years ago and replaced it with a 57 lb. 5 HP 4 stroke 25" shaft outboard to push my boat ever since in many different conditions.

I also totally cleaned all the oil, grease. and grime from the engine compartment and the 2" of sludge in the bilge. It made a big difference in the boat having it clean and quite a bit lighter.

James Baldwin uses a 6 HP outboard to push his Pearson Triton which weighs over 4 tons






James Baldwin's Outboard setup.

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Old 26-05-2021, 11:43   #8
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Marcjsmith thanks pal, you are right that im thinking too much about this diesel engine.

I will try and get it running.
If i cant, or i discover its ****.d up, i will ditch it.

Either solution will be fine, because i will be sailing then.

I will see how to rig a start button and a kill switch (thats what the outboard has, the red thing that you pull and the motor dies). I ve already got a charged battery to start with.

Will update as soon as i can.
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:53   #9
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Sounds like you've already made up your mind, not entirely sure what you're looking for here...

A boat with a reliable engine is naturally safer, and gives you options during your cruise that you will be giving up. If it requires perfect conditions to get in and out of a port, you may find yourself stuck inside missing a weather window, or stuck outside getting beat up.

That said, sailors have been cruising the world's oceans without engines for centuries. It can clearly be done with some skill and care.

I wouldn't feel good about cruising oceans with no auxiliary power, but if your appetite for risk is higher, then go for it.
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:57   #10
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Thomm225 the James Baldwin rig is like an inboard outboard but he can pull the propeller out of the water. Sweet. Although i wont be undertaking a cockpit well modification any time soon.

I could get my yamaha to deliver 6PS with a few simple hacks. The 4ps and the 6 ps are basically the same motor.

Your boat has the engine stern hung? I rigged mine on the side, to keep the mirror free for the Windpilot i will install in the next days.

Tell me more about your experience with the outboard please. Here in the north sea we have some short step seas when the tide runs against the wind. It makes for a few nasty hours of sailing in relatively narrow passages (yeah, we have shifting sand banks that get bad breaking waves with the right conditions).

Dunno if i could always pure sail away in such conditions. My guess is the propellor would spend a fair amount of time out of the water and i will be asking myself why i didnt kept the red little monster inside the boat

Tell me some inspiring story. Its nice to see someone going the outboard way. I feel there may be hope hahaha
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:58   #11
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Also I had my diesel running long enough to know that the 5 hp outboard can push the boat just as well.
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Old 26-05-2021, 11:58   #12
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

as with lots of equipment: the lack of it will give you moments of intense frustration (& probably stress) - & moments of intense satisfaction...
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Old 26-05-2021, 12:02   #13
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

This is how the outboard rig looks now
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Old 26-05-2021, 12:15   #14
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
Sounds like you've already made up your mind, not entirely sure what you're looking for here...

A boat with a reliable engine is naturally safer, and gives you options during your cruise that you will be giving up. If it requires perfect conditions to get in and out of a port, you may find yourself stuck inside missing a weather window, or stuck outside getting beat up.

That said, sailors have been cruising the world's oceans without engines for centuries. It can clearly be done with some skill and care.

I wouldn't feel good about cruising oceans with no auxiliary power, but if your appetite for risk is higher, then go for it.
Im inclined for the outboard way really, have my doubts, and i posted here to see if some argument can help me define for one way or the other.

What you mention about risk and being stuck is very true. I even see a paralel with my (almost) moneyless life. I ve been many times stucked in places due to not being able to pay my way through. Not always pleasent experiences. But looking back, i dont regret a single moment. I definitively got in dangerous situations during my journeys. And i learned a thing or two by being there.

On the other hand, i really do have plenty of time and i m basically limited by the weather and my wish to go or stay in places.

I like that about sailing too. We can play with the reefs, with the tiller, with everything... except the wind direction and intensity. A motor changes that, just like money opens certain doors. They push through.

As someone memtioned in another thread, it may be that i have slight mashochistic tendencies
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Old 26-05-2021, 12:20   #15
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Re: Ditching the diesel inboard engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by double u View Post
as with lots of equipment: the lack of it will give you moments of intense frustration (& probably stress) - & moments of intense satisfaction...
I see in your words deep philosophical aspects. Very true. Thanks
Im looking forward for the next weeks to see what ends up happening.
Will come with updates as soon as its defined.
Thank you everyone for your words. And keep them comming, this is still work in progress.

I make my mind, and change my mind, often
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