Cruising: “Fixing your boat in exotic locations”

“Does it seem like the engine is vibrating more than usual to you, Leah?”

(Looks at engine… sees disturbing amount of movement; engine “jumping and hopping around” being an accurate description; denies, denies, denies)

“Nope. Nope, definitely not. Not at all. Looks totally normal to me… You wanna have lunch?”

This is how most good projects start on the fair ship Brio; Jon trying to figure out what might be wrong with the boat, and me happily burying my head in the sand, a la “if it ain’t really broke, don’t worry about fixing it”. So when he pulled the cover off the engine and had me look at it (as we motored in to the harbour here in Mazatlan), there was no way that I was going to admit anything might be wrong — after all, the engine was still running, wasn’t it? We were still moving forward, weren’t we? How bad could it be??

Broken engine bracket - Westerbeke 21

This, of course, is never the question to ask on a sailboat. Because ‘how bad can it be’ inevitably leads to ‘holy crap I never knew it could be thiiis bad’. In our case, 2 of our 3 engine mounts were toast — one because the nut had completely worn away, and the front one because the bracket was completely broken (picture above). I’m not really sure what was still holding our engine in place — fuel lines and the propeller shaft, I guess?

I should also say at this point that I am *really* not a happy engine-working lady. Jon teases me mercilessly for telling him that ‘sometimes cars just don’t start’ (my explanation for why the car wouldn’t start that morning) (but seriously — it’s true! Sometimes cars really just don’t start… then you sit for a minute, say a little prayer, cross your fingers, check your emails, and *boom*, engine starts again)… and the sentiment carries over to marine diesels.

Anyways, all that to say that taking out the old engine mounts (which involved removing the alternator, heat exchanger, air box, transmission coupler, thermostat, and all manner of hoses) has actually taught me quite a bit about this old thing. And while I don’t *quite* have Jon’s passion for fixing and improving old engines, I think I might be coming around…

Now on to the pictures 🙂

The beginning - the engine before we took anything off or began tackling the project at hand

The beginning – the engine before we took anything off or began tackling the project at hand

The engine with everything stripped & cleaned

The engine with everything stripped & cleaned


Before & After: Old engine mount and new freshly-painted mount

Before & After: Old engine mount and new freshly-painted mount

Where was all this painting taking place? The super nice ladies here at Marina Fonatur set Jon up with his own little workshop…

Where was all this painting taking place?

Laundry day -- hanging parts out to dry in the workshop

Some people hang their laundry out to dry, we hang out our engine parts 🙂

Westerbeke 21 engine parts drying on the line

Unfortunately the engine body wouldn’t hang on the line, so it had to be painted in place…

Getting ready to paint a Westerbeke 21 marine diesel engine

Jon getting ready to wield his magic…

The man and his paint

And the finished product… tada!

And after! Newly painted Westerbeke 21 engine

I meant to take a picture after we’d finished putting all the pieces back on (and aligning the damn thing — holy smokers is THAT not fun! But I’m not too humble to brag that we got her aligned to within 5/1000’s 😉 ), but I forgot to get the camera out once it was all actually finished.

Soooo… you’ll just have to take my word for it that the engine is indeed put back together, and running well (at least as far as I’ll ever admit :P) and we just *might* get to put “fixing the boat in exotic locations” on the back-burner for a while, and move up “having fun in exotic locations” for a little while 🙂


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