Monday, October 5, 2009


I have never been a mechanical sorta guy. I wasn't into cars when I was little, and engines never interested me. So when I first owned a boat in my past life, the powerplant was just a mysterious gray monster that lived under the companionway stairs. It started and it ran, and the surveyor said it was in good shape, so I was happy.

And then on a early trip, the kind little Yanmar 2GM caught a case of engine runaway and almost took the boat to the bottom of the Puget Sound with it. Scary stuff, that. I got lucky, and the runaway stopped itself after a few minutes and before the engine completely seized, but it was never the same after that. Or maybe it was that I was never the same again. Something like that.

From that day on I was always pretty sure I could hear the engine sputtering or laboring. I always had a little tick of nerves that she was going to go south on me. She never did, and was still running great when we sold her years later, but the damage had been done to my psyche.

So here we are with our new-old boat, getting ready to find a way to get a new engine in there, and I have admit that I'm pretty damn excited about it. The idea of starting completely fresh is making me into a bit of a mechanical geek: reading manuals, learning about reduction gears, calculating torque ratios, sketching installation plans. Even the simple idea of a perfectly clean and organized engine space is motivating enough to make me want to rip the old Yanmar out and get started.

And I think we might have settled on our engine:

Isn't she adorable? This is the Betamarine 14. A 13.5 horsepower 2-cylinder marinized Kubota engine. I spoke with the local dealer this morning about our project and I have to say I have a lot of confidence in them. The engine would come with mounts to match the current installation, all wiring, the control, and all the support I need from the yard. They will customize it with specific options for our needs (bigger alternator, hot water heater hook ups, etc) and from actual order to a pallet in our garage is one week.

The ONLY problem is that the base cost is 6 full Boat Units. For the price of this engine we could get:
  • 500 cases of Red Hook ESB
  • 3,000 nonfat lattes at Jason's Java
  • 3 full sets of new sails
  • 2 rebuilt Yanmar 2GM engines
  • 1 used Cape Dory 25
  • 2 used Santana 22s
  • 1/2 of a BMW F800GS
  • Out of debt.
But nothing beats a reliable, powerful, easy to maintain diesel engine when you are cruising in the Northwest, where 5 knot surface currents are not uncommon and the wind is ALWAYS on the nose when you are trying to push through Deception Pass.

So now we're actively entering into the fundraising portion of this program. I might have to start drinking cheap beer again to make this one work...



  1. It's good to make the most of your environment. Fundraising options include? I can contribute...

  2. We definitely need to set up a charitable trust or something...