Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Decision

The situation: we have an 8500 hour engine that had a ton of epoxy-contaminated rainwater sit inside the crankcase and pistons for an unknown amount of time this summer, which is only running on three cylinders. The fourth cylinder has low compression and the head checks out fine, so the problem is presumed to be the rings.

Solution #1: Pull the engine, have it overhauled by local mechanic Gerry Martino, reinstall. Cost: $6700 including all work done to engine so far. Time: 6-8 weeks assuming no long delays in finding/shipping parts. This would have us sailing out of Fajardo sometime in mid-late Jan and living at the dock (at $1.10/ft/night) in the meantime.

Solution #2A: Purchase new Yanmar 4JH57 from R&B Power in San Juan, shipped from Europe for appx. $14,300 plus 11% sales tax. Time to receive: 6-8 weeks. Have installed by Island Marine at Puerto del Rey (booked up to mid-Jan). Presumably leave Fajardo in late Jan. This engine has the same footprint and dimensions as our current 4JH4E, allowing us to use current engine mounts, transmission, and transmission adaptor plate.

Solution #2B: Purchase same 4JH57 from R&B Power, but they would order through Mack Boring who they claim charges 20% extra. Delivery in 2 weeks. Install ourselves with help from Gerry Martino. Cost appx $19,000 plus installation costs. Leave in mid-December.

Solution #3: Order Yanmar 4JH57 from Offshore Marine in St. Thomas, $14160 delivered, no tax. Delivered from mainland U.S. in two weeks. Installed by Mi’kmaq Marine of Red Hook, which does a bunch of engine installs for Offshore and has an engine hoist on the docks at American Yacht Harbor. Sail to St. Thomas for installation, use current engine running on 3 cylinders only to get off dock in Fajardo and take dock in St. Thomas. Done by mid-December.

Solution #4: Sell boat, move back to land.

We didn’t seriously consider Solution #4, we haven’t been that beat down enough just yet! We did consider #1. Gerry seems to be a good mechanic and I think he’d do a good job overhauling. However I could see it dragging on and eating a large portion of our cruising season, and it’s a high time engine. I don’t see having the engine overhauled by a shade tree mechanic in Puerto Rico adding much to the boats value or salability when we put her on the market in a few years. Dawn was pretty adamant all along that if we had to take the engine out, she’d prefer we put a new one in, and she has a good point.

Solution 2B was more money than we wanted to spend, and 2A kept us around Puerto Rico longer than we cared to stay. Plus dealing with R&B Power did not give me the warm fuzzies. They were pretty disorganized, it took a while for them to give me a quote, and their answers on several key things (including sales tax) changed several times. Offshore Marine was really easy to deal with, and talking to the installer at Mi’kmaq, Kevin, gave me a lot of confidence that he’s done a lot of these and shouldn’t have any great trouble doing the swap. Plus, his schedule looked good for the time the engine would arrive.

So we ended up putting down our 50% deposit and ordering a new engine with Offshore Marine. It should arrive by Dec 10. In the meantime I flew a 6-day trip over Thanksgiving, I’m traveling back to Puerto Rico today, and we take off for Culebra and St. Thomas tomorrow. This whole ordeal is going to basically empty our cruising kitty so I may end up flying more than planned this winter, but at least we’ll have a new engine and be able to keep on cruising.

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