Engine spares you should carry onboard

The owner of a small yacht should really feel confident that in the event of an engine failure, he or she would be capable of returning the vessel and crew safely to the dockside - or at least to a safe water anchorage. However, for our peace of mind and to ensure that we don’t miss a pint before closing time, most yachts also have an auxiliary engine to aid with coming alongside or to allow progress when becalmed.

Given that the manufacturer has gone to the trouble of installing an engine for your convenience it seems sensible to make sure that we do what we can to keep it in working order.

The time you most need an engine, such as when making little progress against a foul tide or in very windy conditions in a confined space, is the time when your engine is most likely to give up and go home. But in most circumstances it can be quickly fixed and working again if you carry the correct spares.

Most yacht’s have a water-cooled diesel engine. The engine runs an alternator which also charges the batteries. As we know, a diesel engine needs uncontaminated fuel and air and compression at the right time in order to work. It’s therefore worthwhile carrying the following items;

  • Fuel filters (at least one spare for each filter in line)
  • Oil Filters (the same again)
  • Engine Oil (safely stowed to avoid leakage)
  • Alternator Belt
  • Impeller
  • Air filter
  • Spare batteries for torches and critical kit
  • Stanley knife
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Mole grips
  • Screwdrivers
  • WD40
  • Silicon spray
  • Cable ties
  • Insulation tape
  • Small plastic bowl & funnel
  • Plastic container (for fuel and waste oil)
  • Duct tape (essential of course)


​In addition, it’s worth taking time to build an efficient and useful tool kit specifically for your yacht. It should include items you might find necessary for undertaking critical tasks at sea (or alongside) such as bleeding the fuel system, checking and repairing electrical circuits, undoing (and tightening) specific oversized nuts and bolts, cutting rigging, etc.

Murphy’s Law is likely to ensure that you will always be missing something you need, but preparing for the worst is the very least you should be doing before you leave the marina.

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