There I was motoring along in the channel into Marco Island, FL and pop, bang, shudder… stop. No more noise!! Hmm, says I. This is probably not an ideal place for a breakdown. I walked to the bow, tossed the anchor over and started scratching my head. I could not believe I was out of fuel – I should have plenty. I opened the tank and sure enough, nearly full. I had been in some rough seas and thought perhaps some junk had been stirred up in the tank and got into the fuel filter. I finally got down to the filter and got it removed – nope – clean as a whistle. I tried to start the engine a couple times and the same result each time – kinda half started, shuttered, then quit.
Education tells me that diesel engines (mine is a Yanmar 3GM) mostly need fuel and air to run. The fact that it tried to start told me that the electrical side of things was probably ok. I checked the air filter. Hmm… that was pretty bad but certainly useable – add a new one to the ‘to purchase’ list. I next removed the really small fuel filter on the engine. This was now leading somewhere – it was completely empty – no fuel. I started pressing the prime lever and nothing happened.
I then remembered reading a log entry by the previous owner. He noted a similar situation happening to him. He thought he was out of fuel so added some and all was well. I had a 5 gallon jerry can of diesel so I added it to the tank and turned the key. Whalla! Problem solved, the engine was purring as nicely as ever.
The same thing happened a day or two later. This tells me that the pickup tube inside the fuel tank is broken or has a leak and will only pull fuel from the top of the tank. That is a bummer. I am not looking forward to disassembling the fuel pickup tube as I have a bad habit of breaking something else before I fix the thing that was originally broken. Let’s just hope the thing I break is something inexpensive!
Please take note that it was the previous owners log entry that really helped out. I encourage all boat owners to keep a log AND read that log when you purchase a boat. It may just save you some maintenance expenses some day!