Top Menu

Asking for troubleshooting or repair advice is a bit of a double-edged sword, especially when done openly over the internet. Hand in hand with the many excellent suggestions that we receive, we also find that we have to contend with an assortment of less educated or even silly responses, the most annoying of which are the ones telling me to take whatever I’m working on to a repair shop, as if I wasn’t capable of coming up with that solution on my own.

Even more true when you tell me that “I” can’t do something!

For those without cruising experience, Home Depot and the Apple Genius Bar are not a short drive away. In fact, nothing is a short drive away when you don’t own a car! Even when we are in spots with qualified service personnel in relatively close proximity, St. Martin possibly being one of those spots, there are many reasons why we may choose to tackle problems on our own. To be clear, “on our own” does not mean without advice or assistance. Rather, it means that we don’t drop our problems in someone else’s lap along with a wad of cash and then go sip umbrella drinks while they do our work for us.

Anyway, with that off my chest, our outboard engine is now working. Let it be known that, having done it so many times, I am now a master at removing and disassembling the carb on our 2-stroke outboard! Did I get some help with the repair process? Absolutely.

  • Our neighbor, Phil on s/v Rum Runner, dinghied over after seeing us struggling with the engine. He not only ferried me in to the Yamaha dealer, first to purchase a carb repair kit and the second time, to order a spare carb, he even lent us his spare outboard to use while ours was broken. How cool is that?

Carb repair kit purchased from the local Yamaha guys.

  • John from s/v Manuela responded to my request for assistance on the morning radio net and dropped by yesterday to lend a hand. Unfortunately, he really seemed more interested in taking the outboard to fix it himself than helping me to do it. When I told him that I was really just looking for some advice, he did offer me some valuable suggestions.
  • After still having less-than-perfect results, I radioed Mike from s/v Guilana, another cruisers who had responded to my request for help. Mike dropped by within minutes of my calling him and right away, it was obvious that he knew what he was doing with Yamaha outboards. I wish I could say that there was something extremely obvious that we did to fix the engine but it seems as if it was simply a minute piece of something or other clogging one of the carb’s orifices. Mike could tell that there was a blockage simply by blowing into one of the holes. Further blowing seemed to dislodge it even though none of us actually saw anything come out. The fact is though, something must have come out because after Mike went through that process, the engine worked perfectly. In fact, it functions better now than it did before the problems!

Problems solved, lessons learned and new friends made. That’s got to be worth a bit of stress-induced hair loss, don’t you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with all of these bits and pieces now.


  1. Good old Keihin carburetors. Good to hear you got it resolved. Have a pleasant weekend!

  2. Nice Job!

    Persistence always reaps huge benefits

    You are the epitome of Joshua Slocum’s saying; “I was born in the breezes”

  3. I know nothing about outboard motors which is why I did not put up a reply before. My 2 stroke 3.5hp Mercury was displaying the same symptoms as yours. I took it multiple times to a local shop and each time they said it worked fine. Finally one of the guys at the sailing club took it home to play with it. He found a minute piece of plastic that was affecting the way the float worked in the carb. Worked like a charm when I got it back from him.


    Good job Michael.

  5. Glad to hear you stuck with it, found the person that knew the right trick, and got the family car running again. A little knowledge, patience, and determination is all it takes to solve many problems. Have fun with it.

  6. A spare carb, oh my! When I saw that comment in the past threads, I thought it was a good idea but didn’t think you’d go that route,$$$. Dirt or some kind of debris is many times the culprit and with this last learning session you shouldn’t be stranded long as long as you have the rebuild kit.

    (drop our problems in someone elseโ€™s lap along with a wad of cash and then go sip umbrella drinks while they do our work for us) This truly is, some fortunate folks way of cruising but you got one word wrong, “our” they don’t even consider it “their” work!

  7. Thankfully, Troy is really good at cleaning our Yamaha carb. And we have a spare also. Glad to hear that you’re up and running again!

  8. Can I keep being the guy that gives smarmy answers and complains about you being in paradise while I sit in an office looking outside at rain and cold temps? It’s all ment in jest and fun, never mean, be-littling or indignant.
    If I were there, I’d be the guy “helping” you by clutching a beer and saying phrases like “there’s your problem” or “hold my beer, wach this”.
    I’m like a harmless Cliff Claven.

  9. The real question here is did you make it to happy hour? ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you got your problem fixed!

  10. Sounds typical. If the problem was a bit of dirt I have 2 thoughts:

    1. Does the outboard have a replaceable in-line fuel filter or just a strainer in the tank? For example, my 3.5 Merc has no filter, so most savy sailors add a lawn mowwer type filter in-line near the carb.

    2. Corrosion bits. Use a good corrosion inhibitor, like Seafoam or Biobor EB. They really help keep bits of alluminum out of the jets. Dingy motors need this most because of sea spray. You would think the 2-stroke oil would inhibit corrosion, but I tested that premise for Practical Sailor and the 2-stroke oil did nada. These additives stop salt corrosion in its tracks.

    3. Varnish. OK, that’s 3 thoughts. You use the boat too often for this to be a problem and it wouldn’t have blown out.

    • 1. Yes. I removed it during the troubleshooting process but plan on adding a new one tomorrow.

      2. We do use Seafoam as you suggested. We are currently out though and need to purchase some more.

      3. We had cleaned the carb with carb cleaner about 10 times prior to that “blowing” thing.

  11. My kayak engine is utterly reliable. Limitied, but reliable. The dingy, even though quite dependable, Iwon’t take further than I can row, which with my crappy oarlocks, aint’ too far.

  12. You mean cruising is not all about white sandy beaches, endless sunshine, cool breezes, and umbrella drinks? LOL

    Glad you got the engine running again!

  13. I made it…. I started at the beginning of this blog about ten days ago and read it all…rather obsessively, truth be told. As an engineer, I am not sure if I liked the bikini porn or the boat porn more. From a pic of Rebecca in a bikini to a carburetor, its all good.

    I live near Belleville so I consider you “local heroes”. I grew up cruising from the Bay of Quinte to the Thousand Islands on our 33′ trimaran, so many of your posts bring back memories.

    The blog has sparked a number of conversations with my wife and here are a few answers…

    1. Stop checking out the bikini…and the guts of that engine… I can’t believe it, you are more interested in that battery breaker issue…please go back to the bikini shots..
    2. No, we are not abandoning the children and heading out cruising…
    3. No, our hobie getaway is not big enough, she doesn’t care what I saw on this blog…
    4. No, she is not getting a “stripper pole”, ballet is enough for her… (I did argue that it is just a vertical ballet bar….)

    Thank you for this excellent blog…now that I am caught up, I can follow along in real time….

    • Hi Bruce

      Congratulations! That is a lot of reading.

      First, not that we have anything against strippers, we prefer the term dance pole, not stripper pole. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Second, did you read that our friends who babysat our cat while we were in California are from Belleville? We were hanging out with them today.

      Third, your wife is right, a hobie cat is not big enough, regardless of what you have read on our blog.

      Finally, who says the kids can’t come with you? ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Yes, I read about the folks from Belleville this morning… Small world indeed!

    While I figure I have enough to run off with my wife, I don’t have enough for a cat big enough for three teenagers too. They will grow up so I am working on my new retirement plans. Perhaps they will include a “vertical ballet bar” on board…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Mike & Linda (II the Max) - Reply


    When I was taking auto mechanics in high school, our teacher was one of the best mechanics I’ve ever known and I’ll never forget what he taught us about rebuilding carburators. “Class, a carburator will never go back together wrong (pause…) but… you can leave “$h##” out…!” I’m sure that many can attest to that truism… sounds like you’re back on track.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.