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Alternators fall into the category of mechanical things that I have had to familiarize myself with in the past year. Yes, the cars that we drove back in Canada had alternators but I never had to fix them. If a car stopped working, we’d simply take it to a shop. Our PDQ catamaran is powered by Yamaha 9.9 HP outboards so it doesn’t have alternators. One Love, on the other hand, with its two 54 HP diesel Yanmar engines, does.

Although the situation may have improved in the last week, not that long ago one of our friends had both of his catamaran’s engines’ alternators down, and a second friend had one of his alternators inoperable. Back in March I wrote how one of our alternators had stopped charging our batteries. Fortunately, that problem was due only to a broken wire, not an issue with the alternator itself.

Since that time we have acquired both a spare alternator, and a spare starter. If we run into problems, especially with guests on board, it is much easier and faster to swap a defective part for a new one than it is to attempt a field repair. We can then work on getting the damaged part repaired (if possible) at a future date. And yes, I already know where the alternator repair shop is on St. Thomas as we visited there with our friend when he was trying to have his alternator repaired.

For more info on alternators that you ever wanted to know, check out Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual. That book lives beside our bed on our bookshelf and is always accessible.


  1. Um, Yamaha outboards do have an alternator…

    Have a good weekend!

  2. ^^ Yeah, but so small as to not count. Solar is the thing.

    First, if the other engine alternator is working, can’t it carry both engines easily? This is true with the outboards. I know with the PDQ, if the batteries are flat you pull start one engine, wait 10 minutes, and simply start the other. Been there, done that.

    Second, I thought you carried a big spare alternator (generator) around, all hooked up?

    But yeah, sometimes it’s nice just to get a thing fixed, right now.

    • Yes, we have that big spare alternator that you speak of. Without having solar (yet) installed, it’s nice to have some redundancy when it comes to charging the house bank.

  3. Yikes, who got in the way of the fins on that baby?

  4. Ahh, spare parts… I remember carrying them around in my older cars, Mustang parts, Rabbit parts, nearly an entire replacement set of Triumph parts. Thank God for my Accord, no need to carry parts, it doesn’t break!

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