When we realized that Celeste needed a new auxiliary engine, Seth and I went with a Yanmar because of our good experiences with the used one we had installed on Heretic during our circumnavigation. We were also most familiar with maintaining Yanmars. We were very pleased, therefore, when Yanmar agreed to support our expedition by providing all our spare parts!
Arctic voyagers, from Roald Amundsen to the present, have realized the importance of auxiliary propulsion as an aid in negotiating tidal currents, variable winds, and tight anchorages. On our circumnavigation we were impressed by the performance and reliability of the 20-year-old Yanmar engine (35 horsepower) that we installed in New Zealand. We also became adept at maintaining it ourselves, even re-building it in Australia after we had (stupidly!) over-pitched the propeller. So we turned to Yanmar again when it became clear that Celeste’s 30-year-old engine would need replacement.
We knew Celeste’s Volvo diesel was old, but in British Columbia last summer we noticed that it would need either a complete overhaul or replacement. Every time we started the engine blue smoke billowed out of the exhaust: a sure sign that the piston rings were letting oil into the cylinders, a major problem whose solution can involve replacing the pistons themselves as well as honing the cylinders (we were experienced with this, having already done exactly that on our old engine). The Volvo had done well over the last 26 years, but it was due for re-building or replacement.
We decided on replacement since the price was the same either way and because a new engine will have fewer problems and a longer life. We went with a Yanmar from Auxiliary Engines in Seattle (who specializes in sailboat engines) because we were so familiar with using and maintaining Yanmars and because we’re convinced of their reliability and fuel efficiency. We also downsized from a 50hp to a 30hp—the 3YM30—in order to conserve fuel and because (as is common in sailboat construction), the 50hp was bigger than Celeste really needs.
Thanks to our supporter Yanmar, their distributor Cascade Engine Center, and their dealer Auxilary Engine, we’ll have a full complement of spare parts and filters aboard to perform routine maintenance and troubleshoot any potential problems along the way. We want to be kind to our iron mainsail—it’ll be indispensable both in Alaskan inland waterways and once we get up into Arctic waters!