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Issues in the engine room are the quickest way to ruin a weekend on the water. But a little knowledge can go a long way. That is why Boaters University produced this course on Marine Diesel Maintenance and Troubleshooting. This online course provides you with the basic knowledge you need to avoid issues underway. Sign up today and use the promo code: PASSAGEMAKER for 20% off.

As a survival instinct we are wired to be fearful of anything new or unfamiliar. However, in boating, that instinct can backfire. Unfamiliarity with a boat’s mechanical systems is what keeps most boat owners out of their engine room. If you don’t understand what’s going on in the engine room, you will likely be uncomfortable or even fearful of what’s happening in there. Fortunately, knowledge replaces fear. When we understand something, we become more comfortable with it.

Most boaters don’t run with a full time mechanic or engineer onboard, so your ability to solve a problem may keep a bad situation from becoming worse. This was the case with Steve and Cheri when they were setting out for a long weekend cruise. Everything was running smoothly, conversation at the helm was relaxed. And then the high temperature alarm on the starboard engine suddenly brought them back to the present. 

Steve shut down the engine and scrambled to get to the engine room. Finding the room filled with smoke and the smell of burnt rubber brought terror to Steve’s heart. After looking through the inspection window and verifying there was no fire. Steve slowly opened the door, with the fire extinguisher that stays mounted next to the door in hand, just in case. 

It is important to note here: Steve is not a mechanic, he is an accountant. He has always been a recreational boater, albeit one with several years and a few boats worth of experience behind him. Knowing he and his wife were planning to spend some extended time aboard their boat in the coming years, Steve decided to take a class on diesel engines and drive systems. He realized learning more about his boat’s mechanical systems could help him more comfortably handle minor repair issues himself.

With his newly gained knowledge in hand, a quick inspection showed the cause of the problem to be a broken serpentine belt. Steve knew from his engine room class this belt drove the cooling water pump on the engine, which explained the high temperature alarm. In the past, this situation would have caused a call to a tow boat, but not this time. Steve had just learned how to change this belt and had purchased a spare one toon board.

Knowledge replaced fear, Steve and Cheri’s weekend was saved.