Time for a new engine

Unfortunately our old faithful Volvo penta TMD22P is running out of steam after 23 years of work, despite annual maintenance costs of a few thousand euros, which are also increasing every year. Breakdowns are becoming more frequent, the engine smokes horribly (which doesn’t suit our sustainable holiday offer) and runs on 3 cylinders (out of 4). The stop button doesn’t work despite a new stop solenoid, the alternator doesn’t work most of the time either so the batteries don’t get charged, the dashboard regularly gives an alarm despite nothing being wrong and with some regularity a leak needs to be fixed somewhere. A problem is that spare parts are hard to come by and extremely expensive.

An overhaul is needed to fix the problems, but a better and long-term solution would be a new engine. And preferably a good reliable one that will last for years again and where parts and mechanics are easy to come by anywhere in Europe. The advice is Yanmar, which sounds logical because it has a toyota block and they have been providing the most reliable engines for years. The Japanese take their work seriously. Besides, there are Yanmar dealers/mechanics in many ports and our genset (generator set) is also a Yanmar, so this means we can use the same oil and coolant.


A problem, lets just say show stopper, is that after 2 seasons of corona restrictions (and virtually no government support, as only sailing vessels over 50 years old got government compensation(yes, very strangely)), we don’t have €35,000 euros on the shelf. Plus it is also time to replace the shrouds and tensioners which will cost around €10,000.

Therefore, we want to start a crowdfunding campaign (in loan form). Laura had once given me a booklet and during the 2023 season I read it to make a plan. It says, among other things, that when you do this you shouldn’t launch the action all at once,

Therefore, the plan is to first approach the Regular Clients (the die-hard friends of the Cherokee) during a cosy pizza evening when we have just returned to Rotterdam from our sailing season. The idea is that then the first deposits can be made via a fancy website tool, and once there is money in the deposit account we will move on to step 2.

In the evening hours, I make a website page with text and explanation and a video with drone footage of Graeme. Of course, as I don’t know how much we end up bringing in, plan B will be an overhaul of the current engine which will cost about 1/3rd.


After writing to the Dutch regular customers (the first stage), it soon becomes clear that I have seriously underestimated my loyal customers, because in no time we go over the target amount and I have to stop the campaign because money keeps coming in :). A tremendous boost, the new engine can be ordered! (With 2 months delivery time, the engine will be assembled in Almere).

At the end of November, in wind and rain, I sail to Neutmast in Middelharnis, where first the mast comes off for replacement of the shrouds, and 2 days later, with no strong wind but hail showers, to Zinschitz Yacht service in Hellevoetsluis where the old engine will be taken out.

Fire protection in the engine room

Now that the engine room is empty, this is the ideal opportunity to make the engine room fireproof.

For all sailing charter vessels, the regulations are currently being revised under the leadership of DGLM, the policy department of the ‘Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management’ (IenW) together with the implementer ‘Inspectorate for the Environment and Transport’ (ILT), Register Holland (RH) the classification society, the BBZ and Hiswa as industry associations, and myself as the representative for professional sailing vessels under 24 metres with up to 12 passengers.

So while the new regulations for sailing vessels are not yet ready, after two years of consultation, some things are clear. The engine casing on a small sailing ship must be as gas-tight as possible and insulated with non-combustible B15 material or equivalent. The sound-insulating foam plates are removed and replaced by 30 mm SOLAS-certified rock wool and 20 mm Promotect-H, a kind of water-resistant stone/gypsum board. Extremely heavy, but apart from the fact that the material itself cannot burn, it is also intended that the casing will not heat up above 40 degrees for the first 15 minutes, so that the adjacent rooms can be evacuated. There will be two self-closing butterfly valves (with a safety clip fuse) in the air outlet to stop the air supply (fire needs 3 things: fuel, oxygen and an ignition temperature, taking away one of these sources stops the fire).

The old sound insulation in the engine compartment is replaced with 30 mm non-combustible vapourproof Rockwool + 20 mm non-combustible Promotect-H board

Gearbox and foundation

Unfortunately, it turns out that the wrong gearbox was ordered. The engine is at an angle and we thought the output shaft was straight, but there is still a small 7-degree angle between propeller shaft and engine. The new order does cause a few weeks‘ delay; only when it is delivered can we determine exactly how the engine needs to be placed. The propeller shaft cannot be moved, the position of the engine can.

Therefore, the engine must be raised slightly, which can be done with thick steel strips, but of course I prefer stainless steel, as it is a matter of time before it starts to rust. The width of the supports is fairly similar and can be bridged with the strips. A Centaflex M160 flexible coupling between propeller shaft and gearbox also gives a bit of margin and mainly ensures that the propellor passes on less vibration.

From left to right: modified engine foundation, new gearbox and Centaflex vibration damper

Adjustment of the propeller

Because of the new gearbox having a different transmission, the pitch of the propeller (the distance covered in one revolution) may have to be adjusted. Because I don’t know what pitch the current propeller has and because it is time for new Antifouling anyway, the Cherokee is lifted out of the water. The anodes also need to be replaced and the propeller will be taken off to read what the current pitch is on the inside.

According to the calculation, the pitch would have to be smaller and the diameter larger, but after checking with the supplier, it turns out that the current propeller also suffices, which saves on costs.

After cleaning the propeller, sanding the hull and 2 coats of new Antifouling (painting in wind force 7 is not easy, the paint just blows off the roller) and a new exhaust pipe, the Cherokee can be launched again.

The great thing is that on the gearbox, the direction of rotation is adjustable, so we can keep the left-handed propeller, which will make maneuvering easier because I don’t have to get used to a right-handed propeller.

Just before the New Year, the Cherokee goes back in the water. Fortunately, because cooperation with the Hellevoetsluis shipyard is not going smoothly. Clumsy crane drivers with silly jokes who park the Cherokee in such a way that the ladder to climb aboard has to stand dangerously on the quayside edge, while there is plenty of space. Pretty annoying to have to constantly climb aboard like this, but fortunately no one gets hurt. Upon launching, another crane driver then just makes us (two Zinschitz employees and me) wait for 45 minutes in the rain and wind and to top it all off, an insanely high invoice follows, so I certainly won’t be coming back here.

Harbormaster Laurens manages to tow the Cherokee back to the quay at Zinschitz, despite the strong wind (it always seems to be blowing hard in Hellevoetsluis), where we continue installing the engine again.

The new engine

Sailing electric is not yet possible if you can’t charge with shore power every night. Where we sail, we are sometimes without shore power for a whole week, so unfortunately electric is not possible for us. Or you still have to run the diesel generator all the time, which produces just as many emissions, but with a lower efficiency due to the extra mechanical losses.

Hydrogen engines are also still not suitable, unfortunately, because of the large hydrogen tanks that are needed. So both options have huge limitations (and require huge investments). I therefore think the future lies with ammonia as a fuel. Carbon free and no c02 is released on combustion. Storage is smaller than hydrogen, but also not yet very easy and it is certainly not yet available everywhere. So unfortunately not yet a possibility either.

That is why we choose a diesel engine according to the CCR2 environmental standard. The Common-rail electrically controlled injection, four times per stroke instead of once mechanically, ensures cleaner combustion and thus fewer harmful emissions.

Yanmar currently makes the most reliable engines; the JH80 (80 hp) has a Toyota block. Another advantage is that Yanmar has a strong global representation, which is handy for the future should more maintenance be needed again. Moreover, our generator is also from Yanmar, so now we have both engines from 1 brand, which is handy for oil, coolant and maintenance.

Now that everything has been fitted and the new parts are in, the new engine can go in as well.

Now everything needs to be connected, such as the seawater cooling system, power supply (for the computer), exhaust etc.

It is not particularly warm, especially with the hatches and doors open all the time, and even the Calve Peanut Butter is not spreadable due to the cold. Fortunately, it is a lot more pleasant in Thomas‘ workshop and he has good coffee.

Fire and watertight bulkhead penetrations

If the engine room is fireproof, then of course all cable and hose penetrations must be too, to prevent oxygen still entering as a feeding source in case of fire.

For small diameters, there is material on the market and I can fabricate something myself, but for the exhaust I have to have it made. Fortunately, Marcel from Zinschitz yachtservice is an excellent stainless steel welder.

Air and water supply and exhaust

With all those gas-tight penetrations, I wonder if the engine will get enough oxygen, which is why I want to extend the air intake on the air filter to outside the engine compartment. With the shortest route, the air intake then ends below the waterline. I don’t think that’s a good idea in case of any leakage, so we will extend it extra to the aft peak, where it will be sufficiently high. To make sure that the engine still gets enough oxygen, the supply pipe will have a larger diameter, which requires a special conical bulkhead transit.

The seawater intake for cooling the engine also gets a stainless steel pipe (dismountable). This is normally a hose, but in case of fire, that hose would melt, which would then sink the boat. For the same reason, the seawater filter will also be made entirely of metal (i.e. without a viewing glass).

Stainless steel seawater inlet pipe, so that after a possible fire, the boat remains afloat

The fuel-gas filter/water separator will also be made entirely of metal to comply with the fire class. These are also normally fitted with a viewing glass, but in case of fire that will melt and then diesel will spray onto the fire, not so helpful. It is also a duplex filter, so you can easily switch in case of a clogged filter.

Fire-resistant seawater filter and duplex fuel filter with water separator
The new engine in place, with all the connections!

Modifying the saloon stairs

During the refit the stairs are gone, as they are situated at the access hatch and therefore in the way. To replace it there is a ladder and for a while we also have to climb through the hatch of the cabin roof, quite a hazzle, especially with a slippery deck through the ice.

The new engine has the cooling water pump at the front, which has an impeller that has to be replaced regularly and needs easy access in case of calamities. So the access hatch has to be made bigger to easily reach it.

However, meanwhile, the stairs had to be reinforced anyway. The problem is that there is no space on the inside to make it strong enough, especially with an enlarged access hatch. So after some thinking, the reinforcement should be on the outside, in plain sight. The lower part, under the knuckle that was originally attached, is now going to be largely attached to the access hatch.

That sounds worse than it is, because with simple cheeks on the side of the stairs, the bottom step plus the bigger sawn hatch can be reinforced at once, and another advantage is that if we go sailing and heeling, no one can slip of the stairs anymore.

From ship wright Niko Hoogstad, I obtain beautiful mahogany wood, and with all the extra wood and heavy fireproof boards, new and larger gas springs also need to be fitted.

New Dashboard

Of course, being able to start the engine is also quite helpful, so last but not least a new dashboard is also to be installed. A class requirement, but also quite convenien,t is an oil pressure gauge and a cooling water temperature clock. Meaning a more expensive version. To finish it all off, Thomas Zinschitz makes a beautiful stainless steel cover plate.

Back in Rotterdam, we install the final gauges and alarms and I fabricate a perspex plate for its protection.

Here we also mount the temperature alarm off the exhaust. The exhaust is water-cooled, but should the water supply stop, due to a broken impeller or a blockage in the supply (such as seaweed or jellyfish, yes we have had the latter once), the fire-retardant exhaust will remain intact, but whatever is around it may catch fire due to the heat. Also a class requirement, but certainly as safe.

A lick of paint does wonders too

And finally the time has come!

Footage of the first start of the new engine!

The aft Peak vs Orcas

Now that we are working deep in the Cherokee’s dungeons (the aftpeak) and because it is completely empty anyway, I will make the bulkhead watertight. Quite a job, sawing, gluing, laminating and above all, arranging and removing a lot of electrical wires. Watertightning had to be done anyway for the new regulations, and we were already planning it because of the *Orca attacks in the South..

The Cherokee has a large rudder with a huge rudder stock (the shaft of the rudder that goes up through the boat). In most boats, the rudder breaks off, but 3 boats have already sunk so far because the rudder stock caused leakage. We are not going to take that risk, of course.

I seal the openings in the aft bulkhead where the water and diesel tanks just stick through with polyurethane foam because it needs to remain a bit flexible.

Final conclusion

Both the crowdfunding and the re-motorisation were a great success, for which many thanks to my loyal customers and to Zinschitz Yacht service. The final invoice was obviously a lot higher, which was largely due to my own wishes of lots of stainless steel, the class requirement for the fuel filters and the seawater filter also in steel instead of with viewing glasses and the additional fire and water-resistant bulkhead penetrations for the engine room and the watertight aft peak bulkhead.

* Orca attacks on sailing yachts

After the Corona lockdown in 2020, a group of Orcas started attacking sailing yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar, the Orcas pounding the rudder until it breaks off. This usually stops at just rudder damage, but 3 sailing yachts have also sunk so far.
Orcas follow the tuna and in summer the tuna migrate up the Portuguese coast as far as Galicia into the Bay of Biscay. That tuna is also the immediate cause of these attacks, as overfishing has made it almost extinct.

Although Orcas are very clever beasts (on catamarans, they disable both rudders), I don’t think they explicitly attack sailing yachts because they know that is where the fish-eating consumer is. The simple reason they hardly ever attack fishing boats is because on fishing boats the propeller is right in front of the rudder and they can injure themselves with it. On sailing yachts, there is much more space between them. Hence, motoring backwards is a proven tactic to scare them away.

To be on the safe side, we carry a pinger with us, which emits a sound they don’t like and my suspicion is that they mainly attack ships that are motoring. And motoring we don’t do much (despite of our beautiful new engine).