I’m always surprised when people don’t understand that sailboats have engines. I guess I see why they’d think that, but still…


The Sea Shanti has a 40 hp Perkins Diesel engine that we named Pinetop after the boogie woogie pianist Pinetop Perkins cause we’re cool like that. We carry 60 gallons of diesel fuel in two tanks under the galley. It was clear the previous owner had been working on the engine. I found the old alternator and raw water pump as well as some filters and a drive belt. But the engine was such an unknown. And there were so many pieces to figure out. I read several manuals and watched countless videos.


The number of things I did to get the engine ready to start are too numerous to mention here, but as an example, it took me several days and several conversations to figure out why there are two fuel/water separators and how they work. Locating all the filters, figuring out what to order, and where to get them was another process. And don’t even get me started on how I was supposed to know there’s a sacrificial anode in the heat exchanger. After figuring out what that is, I was able to find one and all I had to do was cut it to length with a hack saw and it was good to go. Simple right?
Hey, did you know that if you open the raw water intake and there’s no hose on it the boat will sink in a matter of hours, cause I didn’t. Lessons learned, terrifying, terrifying lessons learned.


But the most challenging thing was the starter. I attempted to rebuild it but failed. Luckily, I was able to locate a brand new replacement online and the thing fit. I was pleasantly surprised. Interestingly the old one had a spacer on it so I had to pull that off and put it on the new one. But overall, as time consuming and expensive as the process was, we should now have a very reliable starter and the need for a backup starter could not be more clear. I can change out the starter now in minutes – that might come in handy one day.


Finally, after owning the boat two and a half years and never being able to start it, with the knowledge in my head that the place we bought it from said it had been “on the hard for at least six years”, the engine started and ran. It was an inauspicious event with me standing in the engine room, alone on the boat, turning the key for what must have been the 75th time and it just. simply. started.


Pinetop boogied for the first time in at least eight and a half years. We couldn’t be happier.