When we bought Salt Whistle, we were convinced that the engine would just need a little bit of work. We managed to get in two decent sails (one to Great Lameshur Bay on the south side of St. John, and the other with our friends Lauren and Alex to Hawksnest Bay on the north side), but the engine got worse and worse.
|Amy and Skeeter sailing|
|Lauren and Amy at Hawksnest|
|Skeeter and Alex sailing to Hawksnest|
Not having a reliable engine is stressful, I don’t care what the macho sailors say (“It’s a sailboat….why do you need a motor!?”). There are times that there is no wind, the wind is not in your favor, or you have to maneuver in tight spots. No motor might be okay for a small sailboat, but not a 42′ boat that doubles as our home. We’d prefer NOT to end up on the rocks, thank you.
We live in the Virgin Islands, so finding parts and finding a mechanic who knew our engine was not easy. After about a year of struggling to find the correct parts for our old 1985 Volvo Penta MD30A (parts are obsolete…finding them meant days of research, dozens of phone calls, and majorly inflated prices) and paying mechanics who weren’t able to pin point or fix our issues, we decided to give up.
Figuring out what to do with the old engine was another challenge. Lots of boaters would say, “Those Volvo Pentas are great engines,” but when it came down to it, we struggled to even GIVE it away. We posted on sailing forums, on Craigslist, and in Facebook groups for months with no real leads. We even joked about “accidentally” dropping it overboard. Finally, our friend Rick told us about a guy called “Kiwi” who has lived aboard his boat since the 70’s and is a tinkerer who is constantly fixing and selling boats. And we finally had a taker. Kiwi agreed to help us with the removal of our thousand pound engine if he could have it.
It ended up being a two day process. This was our first experience in engine removal, but Kiwi had done it countless times so it was nice to have his expertise and extensive tool set on hand. Hopefully this is the last time we have to remove our boat’s engine, but we did learn a thing or two in the process that will end up being useful.
This is how we did it:
STEP 1 – Disconnect and drain the hydraulic steering fluid lines.
|Disconnecting steering fluid lines in engine room|
|Draining hydraulic steering fluid into containers|
|Access to hydraulic steering fluid lines under bunk in aft cabin|
STEP 2 – Disconnect transmission cable from gear box
|Disconnecting transmission cable from gear box|
STEP 3 – Disconnect throttle cable from throttle linkage
|Disconnecting throttle cable|
STEP 4 – Disconnect alternator
STEP 5 – Unscrew cockpit floor and prop it up for light and accessibility
|Unscrew cockpit floor|
|Prop up cockpit floor to let light into engine room|
STEP 6 – Disconnect wiring harness from engine block
|Disconnect wiring harness from engine block|
STEP 7 – Cut exhaust hose free with hack saw
|Cutting exhaust hose free with a hack saw|
STEP 8 – Disconnect prop shaft from engine
|Holding prop shaft with pipe wrench|
|Unscrewing bolts that hold coupling between prop shaft and transmission|
STEP 9 – Cut dry riser pipe for exhaust with grinder and cutting wheel
|Cutting dry riser pipe for exhaust with grinder and cutting wheel|
|Sparks flew, but I had the fire extinguisher ready just in case|
STEP 10 – Move floor and pedestal completely out of the way
|Move cockpit floor and pedestal completely out of the way|
STEP 11 – Attach shackles and lines to engine in preparation to lift
|Securing shackles and ropes to engine|
|Securing shackles and ropes to engine|
|Attaching chain lift hook onto ropes|
STEP 12 – Support boom and attach chain lift
|We used the topping lift, the main halyard, and the secondary halyard to support the boom|
|Securing chain lift to boom|
STEP 13 – Carefully lift engine using chain lift and guide through cockpit floor opening
|Guiding the engine through the cockpit floor|
|Barely fit. Needed to be turned to make it through.|
STEP 14 – Guide engine to starboard side of boat and set down
|Easing the engine down on the bench. The chain lift was out of chain and it just barely made it to the bench.|
|We put down plywood and an old rug to protect our boat.|
STEP 15 – Raise the boom to lift engine over rail
STEP 16 – Lower engine down into Kiwi’s work dinghy
|Carefully swinging the boom over and trying to ease the topping lift and the halyards evenly|
|Oh crap! The topping lift snapped. Near heart attack…luckily the two halyards still held.|
|The engine made it safely out of our boat and is heading to a new home|
STEP 17 – Degrease, de-rust, and paint in preparation for our new engine!
|The engine room is empty!|
|Ready to clean, degrease, de-rust, and paint|
This was quite an accomplishment for us! We didn’t burn our boat down in the process, and we didn’t sink...two fears that had been running through my mind. We are excited to be making forward progress toward our cruising dream!!!
Thank you to Rick, Kiwi, and Andrew for helping make our boat 1000 pounds lighter!