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It seems to me that when we undertake certain repair jobs, we end up doing the disassembly and assembly so many times that when we ultimately get whatever it is that we’re working on operating properly, we’re able to do the job almost without thinking about it. This is not by design of course but, in this case at least, where we know that we’ll have to complete a similar amount of service on our port engine, it will no doubt be valuable.

I won’t bore you with too many of the details but here is a summary of our day yesterday. For whatever reason, the shift shaft coming out of the lower unit was jammed. We took it to the Yamaha shop and the first technician who looked at it couldn’t get it to move any better than we could. The second, more senior guy, could however and he did so simply by pushing the rod and moving the prop a bit, exactly what I and the other guy had been doing. The charge for their help? Even though the clerk at the service desk warned me that the mechanics wouldn’t even look at an engine without a $55.00 per hour work-order being completed, they did so anyway, helping us for free. Thanks, Yamaha guys!

Now with the shaft moving freely, I was convinced that all would be well. We took our time with the reassembly, put the engine back in the well and reconnected all the wires and cables. That last part might not sound all that difficult but it is a fiddly job that can easily take a half an hour or more. After doing all this, did cooling water flow out of the engine when we started it? Sadly, no, it did not. That’s not all though… the engine wouldn’t turn off. Seriously! Turning the key, pulling the kill switch and disconnecting every wire had no effect. Pulling the fuel line didn’t even stop it. Yes, apparently it can run for quite a while without new fuel! Was I freaking out at this point, knowing that no cooling water was reaching the engine and suspecting that our nice new impeller was frying? Believe it! I ultimately got it to stop by pulling a spark plug wire, cutting my hand and getting a shock in the process.

  • Apologies to Rebecca and our neighbors for all of my swearing at this point.

After taking the engine back out of the well and disassembling it again, we took a well-needed break to get some lunch and to access Wi-Fi on shore. The engine failing to turn off was related to our previous work only in so much as that I must have knocked a wire loose in moving it around. I would have been even more shocked at that turn of events had I not just recently read how the same thing happened to another PDQ owner.

Once back on the boat, rested and energized, we took one more stab at getting everything working. We took the lower unit apart and quadruple checked that we had the impeller in properly. We took a container and hose and squirted water into every tube and orifice that we could think of to make sure that there were no blockages. We removed the thermostat and cleaned under it. The thermostat looked pretty grungy and I seriously considered leaving it out altogether until I could get a replacement (during our morning visit to the Yamaha shop, I checked to see if they had one in stock but they did not). After cleaning it up though, we tested it in a pan of boiling water as the manual suggests and to our surprise, it worked, although perhaps not to spec.

With the engine once again back together, we took a look for the wiring issue but to be honest, found nothing amiss. Crossing our fingers, we took one final shot at reinstalling the engine. I say final because by this point, we were near ready to turn this job over to some professionals. In the event that the thermostat was part of the problem, hindering the water flow, we left it out of the engine and thus out of the equation. When all was connected, we held our breath and turned the key. Guess what? The engine turned over and it started to pee. Not only that, the engine actually stopped when I turned the key off. Why it worked that time and not before, I have no idea. Before we cleaned up our tools for good, we reinstalled the thermostat and tested the engine one more time. Again we saw what we wanted, cooling water exiting the engine. We ran the motor for a bit, verifying its operation in forward and reverse, and thankfully, all was well. Three days of fighting with this had apparently netted a positive result. And what time was it when we got all this completed? Very appropriately, it was 5:00 PM… Happy Hour, and we couldn’t get to the bar to celebrate quick enough!


  1. Good News! Ah, fixing stuff in exotic places…. Cheers!

  2. I like your attitude Mike and Rebecca, you guys never give up and tackle the problem head on and look at the results.
    Enjoy your well deserved drink at Happy hour.


  3. Congratulation ! just think how quickly you will sort the second engine out, “effort in such situations is never wasted”. (Much) :o)) I added the “much “as I`m sure, at the time you felt that there was so much more that you would have like d to get on with.Great job once again.

  4. Congratulations!

    The fuel bowl in the carburetor will let the engine run for a couple minutes with it unplugged.


  5. Well done guys! Was interesting reading to see how this would turn out. Like a good movie with a happy ending!

    I’d like to consult you on a Caribbean matter. We’ve bareboat chartered mono’s in the past plus a Lagoon 400 from Vancouver and a Moorings 4300 cat from La Paz, Mexico. Next up is a Lagoon 420 in St. Lucia early February. So it will be first time sailing in the trades and really looking forward to that.

    So, here’s my question. We will be sailing from St. Lucia and planning a trip through St. Vincent/Grenadines and on to Grenada. Using Windguru as you do, with winds around 20knots, gusts 25 from ENE and waves 2, maybe 3 meters also from ENE and 7 second period what should I expect? I’d plan to run a couple of reefs in the main and partial genoa and see how that works then tweak and adjust from there. Heading will be more or less 290-300 degrees true most of the time.

    Should I expect:
    a) Shear terror with the crew very uncomfortable and feeding the fish over the side?
    b) A purely enjoyable blast south on a fantastic beam reach?
    c) Something in between?

    If your passage to St. Martin is typical and from other reading, I’m thinking c).

    Thanks, and look forward to your reply……

    • Coincidentally we have friends who are chartering a Leopard 4600 and doing that same exact trip on almost the same dates!

      What to expect… I think something in between.

      1. The wind “might” still be ENE but it could just as easily be ESE by then.
      2. When sailing down the leeward (west) side of the islands, unless you are WAY offshore, you will have everything from wind on nose, beam, port quarter and sometimes even your starboard quarter (weird, but it happens). You will also likely experience calms and sometime strong gusts as the winds whip down the high mountains.
      3. When traveling between the islands, with waves of a 7 second period, it will be bumpy, no question. Of course, your ride will depend on your boat, but it is frequently kicked up. You will also likely have current against you heading south (the predominant current flows NW).
      4. We almost always sail with at least one reef in the main. Even if it appears calm in the anchorage, I would not go out with full sail.

      Hope that helps. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

      • We’ll keep an eye out for your friends. Greatly appreciate the comments and looking forward to the trip. Will let you know how it went when we are back. All the best!

        • I really do hope that it turns out to be better than I predicted.

          • Here it is almost a year later. Suppose it’s not too late for a reply. We had a great time on this Lagoon 420. Our broad reach from Chatham Bay to St. Georges the second day was pretty cool. 20-25 knot winds and 10-12 knots with the boat! Grenadines were fantastic on the way back. North end of St. Vincent back to St. Lucia was bumpy, but gave us some great experience.

            Next up is the same boat from Rodney Bay for 13 days in January. This time our crew is heading north and back as far as Guadaloupe at least and maybe Antigua if it goes as planned.

            I keep reading you guys all the time. Congrats on all you’ve done on One Love. Anyone who can mix business and pleasure in their life has done well. Looks like a lot of work for you guys though. I bet it settles down as you get more in the groove.

            All the Best.

            • Thanks for the good vibes and the trip report. The inter-island passages are almost always bumpy. If they’re not it’s probably because there is no wind whatsoever and you are motoring. Hope your next trip is even better than the last.

  6. Hi,on the next engine,before you start the engine after the repair
    strip about an inch or two from an insulated small gage wire. Insert
    one striped end inside the spark plug wire just enough so it makes
    contact with the plug and the plug wire. The other end must NOT
    touch anything metal…just leave it hanging free. Start the engine,
    if it wont shut down, then with an insulated tool, touch the free bare wire
    end to the engine or drop it in the water,this will ground out the spark
    plug and kill the engine. No freaking or cussing required.

  7. If you use a screwdriver, flat preferably, touch it to the engine block and the top of the spark plug at the same time. Make sure you are holding the insulated end! This will stall an engine. It was the preferred method of shutting of my Go-Kart once the kill switchy thingy broke!
    I’m assuming your Yammers are 1 cyl jobs.

  8. I’ve always felt that dingies are about sailing and that cruising boats are about systems. I only suspected of the thermostat clogging because I observed that on an old engine I stripped for parts; that engine had blown some impellers over the years.

    We all know what a good feeling it is to see the end. Not good enought to be worth the voyage every time, but good.

    I dare you to do the other one while swimming. I double dare you.


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