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In spite of the nice showers, and friendly people all around us, Rebecca and I are not marina people. We knew this almost instantly after docking here at Port Louis. While many folks place a high priority on the conveniences that life on a dock provides (shore power, water from a tap, restaurants, pools, etc.), privacy is much higher on our list of must-haves. Having a boat tied a mere 2 feet away from each side of ZTC doesn’t provide a lot of that, especially given that most of our living space is at deck level.

  • Note: Being close to other boats means that we have to wear clothes more often, which increases the need to do laundry, and laundry is not fun.

So why are we here in the marina? Carnival was the initial motivator, and things are ramping up all around us for the coming festivities. Beyond that, we do have a couple of maintenance tasks that are a bit better to tackle when on a dock as opposed to at anchor.

Which tasks specifically? First, we need to pull our engines and change the lower unit oil. How is this accomplished? Great question. Although we have yet to do this, apparently one can use a block and tackle attached in some way to the hard bimini to raise the engines up out of the well. While they are up, I also need to try to deal with the engines’ anodes as I sheared the bolts off when I tried to change them back in Virgin Gorda. The other big maintenance task is replacing the throttle and shifter cables that control the engines. Over time, the cables get stiff and we’ve heard that the only way to effectively deal with this issue is to replace them with new ones. Again, we have never tried this but have researched how other PDQ owners have done it. Hopefully none of these tasks will be over-the-top challenging.

One of our friends shared this photo of how he gets his engines up out of the wells.

Why would it be better to complete these tasks in a marina as opposed to at anchor? Imagine the trouble that would ensue if a squall occurred and we started dragging anchor while our engines were offline. That would not be fun. We expect to get to work on these things after Carnival and following their completion, I think we’ll be bidding adieu to the dock life and returning to a nice (semi) private anchorage.

On a completely different topic, has everyone been paying attention to Emily? I know the folks in her path sure are. I hope the damage is minimal and that all our friends with boats in that area stay safe.


  1. Good luck on the engine maintenance! Doesn’t look like too much fun to me. Now Carnival, that’s another story!!!

  2. M/R…..

    Congrats on your one (1) year of cruising. You entertain me with my morning coffee everyday….Sometimes I feel I am reading a comic book, Muscle & Fitness, Chapmans, Cruising Magazine, tripadvisor and sometimes Playboy (in a great way)……You always provide a good diversity in your blog posts…….For us unfortunate that our landlocked and waiting for our time to cast the lines off, you guys keep us chopping at the bit and increase our desire to go cruising….So thanks……..I agree 100% with your thoughts on marinas…..I love being on the hook or mooring more so than a marina……when you are a weekend cruiser with kids, more times than not, I am tied to the dock…..It is a compromise for the time being…….To next year and more adventures……Safe Passages…

  3. Ahh, engine maintenance. Such fun 😉 Lower units are easy, anodes are supposed to be easy, but sheared-off bolts are no fun at all. I hadn’t really considered the ease-of-access issue before: all the outboards I deal with are either hanging nicely on the transom with the boat on a trailer, or can be carried to a convenient location. (Duly noted for my future outboard-powered boats: engines to be mounted so as to be serviceable without a crane.)

    If you’re feeling cheap, some kinds of shift/throttle cables can be brought back to life for a few more years- you slide most of the cable core out of its sheath, clean it, and re-grease it, then repeat the process at the other end of the cable. Not all types can easily be disassembled and put back together, though. Whether or not this is easier than just replacing the whole thing is a matter for debate.

    I’m not a marina-dweller either (partly because Sunset Chaser is too small to sleep aboard or to need shorepower, so we tie her up and camp on land- and partly because dock space is bloody pricey). As for ‘note 1’- so true, even on land…. sometimes I feel sorry for my poor old Maytag.

    • We have heard that, at least for these particular ones, trying to put new life into the old cables is just not worth the effort. I think we won’t bother even trying and just get some new ones.

  4. I assume you read this PDQ 32-specific post about when I replaced my engines:
    Not too bad. You might consider cleaning the carb bowls while they’re out, if they’ve been trouble.

    The stiffness can also be in the engine/lower unit. I’m not sure of the cause, but that is the case in my starboard engine. Before you assume it is the cable, take it loose and see how it is alone.

    I’ve read some good posts on replacing the cables on the PDQ board. Sounded a bit intense, in the field, but from what I’ve seen,you can get by with duct tape and pliers, so I have great confidence!

    PS. This is the first post I have made while cruising, this time in Crisfield, MD.

    • That is an excellent post Drew and yes, I had seen it. I am going to rig the lifting assembly exactly as you show there. Can you tell me a bit more about how you attach the carabiner to the engine flywheel?

      Remove engine cowling and install a light chain lifting bridle to the flywheel. Three short 8M bolts are required.

      • As you quoted, 3 short 8mm bolts are screwed into treaded holes in the flywheel that would normally be used to pull the flywheel. I used 3 short (3-4 inches) lengths of light chain (the bolts go through the links) which join at a shackle. It is some sort of “utility chain” from the hardware store, intended for very light use.

        It is rather important to get the correct lead angle, and it is VERY helpful to be able to shift the lead as you lift the engine. Getting the engine through the opening on a PDQ 32 is a VERY close fit. In fact, you will need to lean the engine to the side a bit while lifting at one point, since the opening is too narrow unless the engine head is tilted inward. It was VERY handy to have used a winch with the tackle, not for power, but to be able to lift the engine very slowly and to be able to stop when something needs wiggling. OFten we would move the winch up only a few clicks, move something, and then a few more clicks.

        Using a halyard might work, but using the tackle and winch was much more controlable, and ripping the electrinics off the side of the engine would be painful. If you have the tools, use them.

        That said, the rope bridle might work better. The balance point might be better than with the flywheel bolts; don’t know.

  5. Mike – one of our fellow PDQ32 owners, Don Baker, told me he uses the mainsail halyard (through the opening in the bimini) to lift his engines. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but its alot simpler then acquiring a block and tackle and then coming up with an adequate mounting point. Definitely worth checking into. Looking forward to reading how you end up doing it……Good luck.


    • Thanks for the comment, Mike. That would certainly be able to lift them but I don’t think the lead (angle) would be all that great. The method that Drew shows on his blog I think will be pretty simply to replicate. We have two boards like the ones he shows already on the boat (fender boards), plenty of line to secure them and a friend just lent us a block and tackle.

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