Our 1985 Nanni Kubota diesel has been a saga from day 1. With no hour meter, the only assurance we had that the diesel would hold out for our month long sail from Annapolis, around the Keys, under 7 Mile Bridge at Marathon and up to Punta Gorda Florida (just north of Ft Myers) was the diesel survey and subsequent updates to the diesel completed by Chris Oliver (see earlier Nanni Kubota Survey post). Chris inspired trust, so off we went.
I can’t say we had no mishaps along the way, blowing up our windlass and blowing out a mainsail seemed traumatic at the time. But entering the Hawk Channel along the Keys, we were beginning to feel more like cruisers. We dropped anchor in the middle of the night just outside the channel for a few hours sleep and awoke to RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE. How is it possible when we dropped anchor everything was fine and now five hours later under the brilliant Keys sunshine starting the diesel makes it feel like it’s going to literally shake the boat apart? Sometimes I just don’t get it, wouldn’t you think there would have been some sort of gradual indication? But no. Luckily there was wind and we had new sails! As we sailed down the Hawk Channel, I flipped through the cruising guides trying to find someplace that specialized in diesel repair.
Unfortunately circumstances beyond our control, put us on a “schedule” for this segment of the trip, and we didn’t have time to waste. David’s Dad had been diagnosed with a brain tumor a day or two before we were scheduled to leave and we had to be back in Illinois. We didn’t have time to be messing around with diesel repairs, but we also didn’t have any confidence the diesel would get us in the channel at Burnt Store Marina, our destination. I found Marathon Diesel in the cruising guide and called. They were beyond helpful offering to have a mechanic look at the boat as soon as we arrived, despite it being almost quitting time. True to their word, the mechanic looked at the diesel, had David dive in the mucky water to make sure we didn’t have a fishing line wrapped around the prop, ruled out several possibilities and finally came up with the conclusion that the transmission was going out. Terrific. No time to have it pulled and rebuild, we’d have to go with it. The mechanic advised us to use it as little as possible and hope it wouldn’t take it’s final gasp just before the channel at Boca Grande Pass, the seaward entrance to Charlotte Harbor where Burnt Store Marina resides.
Of course, the wind didn’t cooperate, Since we had no engine, we had to sail – new sails are not particularly helpful with wind on the nose such that you’re not making headway upwind, just sailing back and forth – for the original update of the saga, click here. Finally we arrived safely, our trusty diesel cooperating just long enough to be safely at our new “home” for the time being, Burnt Store Marina, Punta Gorda, FL.
As I walked down the dock, I immediately began the process of finding a good diesel mechanic in the area. Several people recommended “Diesel Don” – I always figure when just about everyone you talk to recommends one guy, he’s probably pretty good. But before we could figure out what was up with our Nanni Kubota, we had to fly back to Illinois and be there for David’s Dad’s surgery (which turned out to be a grapefruit sized, non-malignant tumor successfully removed, no complications, luckily).
At this point, I wanted to repower the boat. No more of this old no longer manufactured diesel crap for me, I wanted reliability and was pretty sure a new Yanmar diesel fit the ticket.
Stay “tuned” so to speak! Diesel Don taught us more about our old diesel than we could have ever hoped. More of the saga next week!
Do you have an old diesel? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment. THX! Jan