Monday, June 28, 2021

The Latest on Engine Issues and Plans

 I have been trying to get myself to write this update, but it has been hard to get the motivation. I hate to deliver bad news. In my last entry, we had just removed the injectors and precombustion chambers and were ready to put the motor back together with new injectors. 

We scheduled the time with the mechanic to make sure the installation was done correctly. The good news is that it all went well and in about an hour we were ready to start the engine. The bad news is that when we did start the engine, we had the same problem as before. We are still getting white smoke at high RPM when the engine is under load. To say I was disappointed, would be an understatement. I spent the next couple of days consulting with every other person I could think of as to the next step. I was thinking the injection pump, which was recently rebuilt, but dismissed that when I called the place that rebuilds them and they told me that was not the problem. One thing that was suggested is that the prop was extremely fouled with either a fishing line or just growth. We decided to take the boat out and dive on the prop to check it out. We also really needed a day out on the water. 

We sailed out to Cat Island and dropped the hook. The water is not real clear, but with my mask, I could see and feel the prop. I was happy to see the prop only had two small barnacles on it that were easily removed. I checked the entire bottom of SHIFT and was very happy with the lack of growth. The new antifoul paint that was applied in Demopolis in November was working well. I did find some barnacle growth above the boot stripe on the stern of the boat, but was able to clean that up easily. It felt good to go for a swim and sail the boat for a while.

Kim enjoying a swim even if it included some cleaning of the boat.

We had an exciting return to the marina when a thunderstorm popped up. We were close to the inlet and decided to drop the sails and motor in. Just as we turned to line up for the channel the wind shifted 180 degrees and picked up to 25 knots. Not a big deal, but it was noisy. We still had the white smoke as I brought the engine up over 2500 RPM. Frustrating...

I put a post on a Yanmar facebook group that I am a member of. I had lots of good suggestions, so I spent the next week checking those out. I found nothing that looked like a problem and no change. Here is a link to a video I posted to show the group what it was doing: Engine Problems  

This has been my office for the past month. I was checking the raw water system to make sure we had good flow...we did. I also removed the exhaust system and had it cleaned at a local radiator change. I am beginning to think this engine is very worn and the smoke is coming from burning oil, which would mean that we will need to have the engine rebuilt or replaced. 

I have been searching all over this area to find someone that will come out to the boat and check out the engine that has significant experience with this Yanmar diesel. I have called three Yanmar Dealers, but can't get any of them to call me back. We even drove to Mobile one day to try to talk to one of them, but the service manager was not in and even after the secretary showed me the note that was on his desk, he still did not call me back. Unbelievable!

I was finally given a name of a single guy that is local in the Gulfport area that works out of his own small shop. He does not advertise, but I understand he is very good. I called and he answered the phone. He is busy, but has promised to get out here this week...we will see. 

While all of this has been going on, I have been watching the Tombigbee river. It is still our plan to head up the river for hurricane season. The river has been at flood stage, so going up the river has been impossible. The good news is that it is coming down and a passage might be possible as early as next week. We may be ready and we may not. I am really uncomfortable motoring the 300 miles from here up the river to Demopolis with an engine that is not solid. Once we leave Mobile it is 210 miles of no services of any kind.

I have also been looking into replacing the engine. I still need to do some more research, but I think I have found a good option. We may go that route, if the tech tells us the engine is not reliable.  So, that is the update for now. 

While this has all been going on, we had Tropical Storm Claudette pay us a visit. The storm was pretty much a direct hit on Gulfport. It came at night and brought with it some 50 knot gusts. and about 3 feet of storm surge. The good news is the marina did not evacuate because the forecast was for much less. Kim and I took turns getting up during the night to check on things, but we got through it unscathed. 

The following day was a wedding shower for our future Daughter in Law in her home town of New Orleans. We were not sure if Kim could make it, but we we awoke, the storm had mostly passed, and the water had receded. We made the 70 mile trip to New Orleans and had a great day visiting with Mark and Callie and Callies Mom, Christie. 

Last Saturday night, we had a dock party here in the marina. We are blessed to have a great band that is called Dock 4. We are on Dock 4 and many of the members are current or past slip holders on our dock. We had an enjoyable time listening to music and talking to other boaters. 


Dock 4 playing at our dock party. They are an excellent band and we really enjoyed listening to them. 

Well, that is about it for this entry, I hope to write again after we get a diagnosis of the engine and finally we should have a plan going forward. 


  1. I almost don't want to comment about engine issues, or whatever stops someone from moving, because I don't want to minimize the frustration and anxiety of it. Glad you guys are in a place to park while you work through it. Glad you might have finally found someone, other than a dealership, that can give great advise.

    Personally, I'm still learning to deal with the moments of "this sucks, what will break next." Much of that has to do with not wanting Karen to live through the bumps in the road. I can handle anything myself, she is more particular.

    Next post I'll suspect will be all is well, we figured it out, made the decision on what to do, it worked and we are moving on.

    1. Mark, the good news is the engine is not our primary source of power. We actually have three ways to propel the boat. The anxiety can be an issue, that is why I am strongly considering putting a new motor in the boat. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. We’ll maybe they’ll find something relatively cheap and easy instead of a new motor. If not, we’ll…..
    We have our RV in the shop as we speak for some minor updates and frame repair. It could be relatively cheap and easy or…. We shall see. It is what it is. Just looking forward to a good checkup and repairs and moving on to the lake and hopefully less rain, heat and humidity. We’re turning into prunes!

    1. Debbie, Good luck on the repairs. I have some new ideas and how to test our engine issues. I may try that tomorrow. Thanks for stopping in.

  3. We remain as anxious as you must be, and pray for your safety. Love, Mom and Dad

    1. Mom and Dad, That is your first comment. Thanks for that and the prayers. I have been reading all day and now have some new things to try. We will see how that turns out. Love, Shawn

  4. OMG Shawn & Kim,
    Our heart goes out to you! I know how frustrated you must have been and pray all is better by now or soon will be. And knowing me you know I have a story for that:
    On our way to Alaska in summer of 2018 we had a small rubber hose leak coolant. After being towed over 200 miles in the Yukon a mechanic that was in a hurry repaired it, charged us $500 for a new one and sent us on our way. On our way home in late August it broke completely in the middle of no where. Ruined both heads and gaskets. Truck was towed almost 300 miles back to Whitehorse leaving us stranded at a high priced RV park in Nugget City for 21 days. I'm sure I told you this story before.
    Well, I was so DOWN and Frustrated only two thing got me through all those days of not being in control. One, I had to remember I was never the one in control. Two, a good friend of mine once told me about having trouble with his 5th wheel AND truck in Pathrump, NV. He said a very old woman listened to him tell his trouble one night around a campfire and finally she said, "Well, you'll get it fixed, you'll go on, and you'll have stories to tell around the campfires."
    That story that GOOD friend told me helped me then and has helped me many times since. I think you know my friend.....and I hope you will end up being as fortunate as he has been. Bumps in the road happen. Strong person that you are with as devoted a wife as Kim, good things are right around the next bend in the river and you will have new stories to tell at the dock parties.
    Love you guys and make whatever decision you feel is right for you and don't look back. Fingers crossed.
    Dick & Cathy

    1. Thanks for the reminder of a good story. The good news is we are safe in our marina and ready for our next adventure, whenever that comes.