Power & Tech­nol­ogy

It pays to be acutely aware of noise on your boat, par­tic­u­larly if it’s com­ing from the en­gine room.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

The best skip­pers are at­tuned to sounds—both good and bad— com­ing from their boats. We in­ves­ti­gate some com­mon ones.

I’ m not a big fan of loud mu­sic when I’m cruis­ing on my boat. While I love mu­sic, I think it’s best to keep it at a rea­son­able sound level rather than blast­ing tunes for ev­ery­one in the ma­rina or an­chor­age to hear. And there’s an­other rea­son to turn the vol­ume down: Mu­sic can dis­tract you from other noises on board, in­clud­ing those in the en­gine room. A builder told me a sad tale about a skip­per who chose to run a boat from the fly­bridge while wear­ing head­phones. He wanted to lis­ten to his fa­vorite bands rather than the throb of the ma­chin­ery un­der­foot. It wasn’t un­til the tachs started flut­ter­ing that the cap­tain pulled off the head­set, only to hear the smoke alarms ring­ing. I don’t think he was lis­ten­ing to “Light My Fire” at the time, but even so, the boat’s owner fired the guy when he found out what he’d done.

Boats are noisy, and some sounds are good. On one de­liv­ery run I made from New Jer­sey to Florida, I en­coun­tered an elec­tri­cal prob­lem at a ma­rina; the shore power couldn’t keep the bait freezer and other re­frig­er­a­tion run­ning. I started up the gen­er­a­tor, all the while think­ing about the sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars I’d spent on the mul­let, balao, squid and Span­ish mack­erel that needed to be pre­served. When the Onan was up and op­er­at­ing, it was mu­sic to my ears.

Other ma­chin­ery sounds can re­veal less for­tu­nate news, in­clud­ing a squeal­ing from the cut­lass bear­ing. A worn cut­lass bear­ing will take its toll on a boat’s per­for­mance. I was re­minded of that on an­other de­liv­ery from Con­necti­cut to New Jer­sey. I was ap­proach­ing Mon­tauk Point when the throaty ex­haust from the boat’s Detroit Diesel 8V71Ts changed to a dis­tinctly hol­low sound. Even be­fore the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture gauge re­sponded, I knew I had a prob­lem with the en­gine’s wa­ter pump. I raced down the fly­bridge lad­der and peered over the tran­som. I saw that the port en­gine was pump­ing fine, but the ex­haust flow com­ing from the star­board side was no more than a driz­zle. We ended up limp­ing into a ma­rina on one en­gine, and the worn im­peller cost us a travel day, but it could have been a more se­ri­ous re­pair had the mo­tor over­heated, par­tic­u­larly since we later dis­cov­ered the en­gine alarms were not work­ing. On that day, the abil­ity to rec­og­nize changes in the noise pro­duced by en­gines re­ally paid off.

Mod­ern ma­rine propul­sion—in­clud­ing diesels, in­board gaso­line en­gines and out­board mo­tors—is equipped with sen­sors in the sys­tems for cool­ing, lu­bri­ca­tion and fuel, and these sen­sors per­form watch­dog duty to prevent catas­tro­phes, of­ten by slow­ing the en­gine and re­duc­ing its power out­put. Get fa­mil­iar with these fea­tures be­cause they are de­signed first and fore­most to pro­tect the ma­chin­ery from dam­age, not nec­es­sar­ily you or the boat. If an en­gine sen­sor de­tects a prob­lem with fuel or lube, for in­stance, it could re­duce the RPM out­put. If that oc­curs when you’re at the wheel, hope­fully you’ll have enough speed to safely ne­go­ti­ate the boat through traf­fic, a rough in­let or strong cur­rents. Pre­pare in ad­vance for that type of sit­u­a­tion by re­view­ing your owner’s man­u­als.

You should also test the alarms on board a few times each sea­son. These de­vices, like so many things aboard a boat, age even if they’re never ac­ti­vated or used. I like to pull the kill switch lan­yard on my out­board boat once a week just to make sure it’s op­er­at­ing prop­erly. Whether I’m run­ning at cruise in the ocean or put­ter­ing at a slow pace on the river, I want to hear that en­gine go si­lent when I yank that cord. It’s one of the most sooth­ing sounds I know.

The best skip­pers are care­ful lis­ten­ers and very in tune with the sounds pro­duced by their en­gines.

By Peter Fred­erik­sen

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.