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Old 21-07-2022, 10:22   #1
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Stalled engine!

Newbie sailor here. I took out my (new to me) '79 Catalina 30 for a first sail. Had a great sail in mostly calm winds. Everything went well, until, coming back into the marina I throttled down the Universal M3-20B and it sputtered and stopped. We were right at the entrance to the marina with my slip in site and after several attempts the engine would not restart. After a moment (OK several moments) of panic my sailing companion, with even less experience than me, pointed out there was little boat traffic, no wind, and the current was taking us gently over to the guest slip. I had her put out the fenders and prep a line to tie off. I was able to get the boat turned so it was parallel to the slip and as we gently bumped into it I was able to jump off and tie her up. No harm done. After about 45 min I tried the engine again, it started right up and we were able to get into the slip no problem. As I assess the situation I can't think what else I could have done. Drop anchor? Put up a sail (there was little to no wind)? My wife suggested having an oar on board for such emergencies. Any suggestions? Thankfully it was a calm day but in a more congested area or dangerous area what does one do?
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Old 21-07-2022, 11:09   #2
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Re: Stalled engine!

For a 30' boat I would have a paddle on board. Get one with a long enough handle that you can use it from various points around the boat. Sometimes it is most useful to use them from the bow, for example. There are inexpensive aluminum ones that collapse that are fine for emergencies and that are easy to stow.


You can sometimes get a little way on by sweeping the rudder back and forth.


Having an anchor ready to deploy in the event of emergency is good seamanship.


Hailing nearby boats, on VHF or otherwise, may be useful. Even with the decline in courtesy both on and off the water you may find someone who is willing to provide a short tow.


Of course, if there's wind, even a little, you're best off sailing.


Some people would claim that this is the sort of thing that calls for a Sea Tow membership.



A 25'-30' sailboat is in a size range where engine failures are particularly awkward. Larger sailboats will typically have a dinghy aboard that can be used to tow the (big) boat. Smaller boats can be fitted with oarlocks and so can be rowed a considerable distance and if not can still be paddled a reasonable distance.


A 30' sailboat can be fitted with a notch in the transom, and then rowed with a sculling oar, though this is extremely uncommon and requires an oar that is larger than what is readily available and that is also then difficult to store.
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Old 21-07-2022, 12:04   #3
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Re: Stalled engine!

What you did seems like it was exactly the right thing. A Catalina 30 is too heavy to expect to paddle far, and you would probably need an oar in order to use it from the deck and have it be long enough to reach the water.
Having a diesel engine suddenly stop is unusual. It would be a good idea to figure out why it happened. The inability to restart, and then having it run again 45 minutes later points to a fuel issue. Possibly something clogging the fuel line, or crud in the tank plugging the intake, or an air bubble. Others may have ideas as well.
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Old 21-07-2022, 12:10   #4
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Re: Stalled engine!

You can try to take off your air filter and spray in the air intake a little WD40 while attempting to restart the engine.

Long term you may want to really get to know your engine and your fuel system - inspect your tank, fuel lines and filters

Hope that helps. We had an older Catalina and got a lot of help and instructions along the way. Most of our problems were related to diesel bug in our old fuel.
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Old 21-07-2022, 14:30   #5
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Re: Stalled engine!

First off, gasoline engine or diesel? (If you have to run a blower before you fire it up, it's gas). Clogged idle jet? fuel pump? If diesel, first off, i agree with the poster above who wrote that they are unlikely to just cut out on you, unless they're not getting fuel any more.. diesels tend to keep running. If it's diesel, how long since you've changed the fuel filter(s)? and air filter? had the injectors serviced? replaced the fuel pump?

Either way, it's time to get out the rags (for cleaning your hands), the waterless hand cleaner, put on your thinking cap, and sacrificial clothes. Either way, the problems will respond to linear logic. And learning to do your own work is cost effective and practical, and good for self confidence.

Consider going online to get a mechanics manual for your engine, if you are unfamiliar with working on engines. Once you've done that, you can follow the directions and fix whatever's wrong. It isn't normal. We've had engines cut out from fuel failure, and once from loss of oil. If you can set up an anchor on the foredeck that is ready to go, then it will be there to act as "brakes". What would you have done if the wind was blowing the other way?

Sculling oars... well, have watched a guy move a 30 ft. steely, at about one knot, on a flat, calm day. It is something one needs to practice.

Sail into slip, sometimes not allowed by marina management, but sure, on the headsail, and drop the sail as you coast into the slip. With roller furling, just use a small scrap of sail. I hope you have an upwind slip. Marina would probably forgive you about the rules when you told them your engine stopped.

Ann
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Old 21-07-2022, 14:45   #6
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Re: Stalled engine!

Could possibly be a plugged vent line from the tank. Stopped the flow when the lift pump couldn't match the resistance caused by the "vacuum" above the fuel... which slowly leaked away, allowing restarting.

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Old 21-07-2022, 15:13   #7
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Re: Stalled engine!

My vote would be for a clogged fuel line. I just recently had a pickup tube plugged with sediment, there was a very fine screen on the pickup tube and it plugged up almost completely. Stalled out one day and then later started and stalled again after a time. Had me scratching my head for a bit, I changed filters, checked all connections but it would still stall occasionally. Finally put a vacuum guage on the primary filter and it almost bottomed out. So only thing left was the tank pickup, sure enough pickup was clogged. Funny thing, it was a plastic that you can almost see through, so no trouble seeing fuel level and that there's no dirt sitting on the bottom of the tank but somewhere I picked up some dirty fuel and it plugged the pickup tube.

Also check for other dirt in the tank, I seen leaves and paint chips that would block the pickup tube and stall engine with the suction gone the things would float away and the engines would run fine until the dirt got sucked into the pickup tube again.
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Old 21-07-2022, 15:26   #8
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Re: Stalled engine!

One of my most useful bits of kit is a large wooden closet hanger pole. It lives alongside the shrouds held by bits of PVC pipe. It’s a good 9’ and makes an excellent pusher-away.

Otherwise, anchor and sea tow on speed-dial.
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Old 21-07-2022, 15:31   #9
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Re: Stalled engine!

You don't say where you are, but I vote for the clogged tank vent also like Jim Cate. Bees build little nests in the hull exit fittings. A vacuum builds up and the engine stops. Then it gradually balances and the engine will start again.
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Old 21-07-2022, 16:15   #10
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Re: Stalled engine!

I’d like to see someone move a Catalina 30 with a paddle.

There’s usually some breeze. Use the headsail.
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Old 21-07-2022, 16:42   #11
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Re: Stalled engine!

Quote:
Originally Posted by glenn.225 View Post
My vote would be for a clogged fuel line. I just recently had a pickup tube plugged with sediment, there was a very fine screen on the pickup tube and it plugged up almost completely. Stalled out one day and then later started and stalled again after a time. Had me scratching my head for a bit, I changed filters, checked all connections but it would still stall occasionally. Finally put a vacuum guage on the primary filter and it almost bottomed out. So only thing left was the tank pickup, sure enough pickup was clogged. Funny thing, it was a plastic that you can almost see through, so no trouble seeing fuel level and that there's no dirt sitting on the bottom of the tank but somewhere I picked up some dirty fuel and it plugged the pickup tube.

Also check for other dirt in the tank, I seen leaves and paint chips that would block the pickup tube and stall engine with the suction gone the things would float away and the engines would run fine until the dirt got sucked into the pickup tube again.
And if you have a screen at the end of the pick up tube, cut it off. You don't need or want it, it's one of the dumbest things ever to be installed on a boat. All of the filtering should be done at the big primary and secondary filters where you can easily change them out. Not at the bottom of the tank where you probably don't even know it's there. I've had cars with those too and had the same problems.
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Old 21-07-2022, 20:34   #12
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Re: Stalled engine!

Thanks for the suggestions on trouble shooting the stall. I will have to check out the fuel lines and tank. What I didn't mention the engine was running fine at 2500 rpm for a good hour before I throttled down and it stalled. I think I may have dropped it into idle and it was idling at too low an RPM. I then may have flooded the engine and couldn't get it restarted for a while. But I don't know how old the fuel is (it is a diesel) as I have just bought the boat. I'm in Everett WA.
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Old 21-07-2022, 21:36   #13
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Re: Stalled engine!

Stalled engine happens to everyone sometime. Just happened to me the other day in a bad spot. Have an anchor ready to go all the time and use it. Youíll thank yourself later.
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Old 22-07-2022, 10:39   #14
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Re: Stalled engine!

When this happened to me, sailing alone. I jumped off with the painter in hand and swam the boat into my slip. This was in Antigua, where there wasn't power to the docks, so swimming in the marina was OK. I would avoid this wherever there was power to the docks and possible leakage in the water


I had air in the fuel line. I replaced the fuel line and then pumped them full of fuel
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