Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goodbye Mr. Perkins

This blog entry is dedicated to a topic far from our normal descriptions of traveling adventures and focuses instead on the month-long engine upgrade for Atalanta. Atalanta is one of six 44’ Little Harbors built that are center cockpit.  She is a semi-custom made sloop built in 1983 by Ted Hood, one of America’s iconic yachtsman.  Atalanta was, in fact, owned by Ted for her first three years and like all his boats bore the name Robin Too and was painted with his signature hull color of Stars and Stripes Blue

Ownership of a boat like Atalanta brings with it an obligation to maintain her and to keep her in good if not great “Bristol” condition.  There are two aspects of maintenance: cosmetic and mechanical.  We try to make sure that all is maintained by us unless said maintenance requires a level of expertise that we don’t possess. 

After 31 years of service, Mr. Perkins (as our 4154 Perkins Engine is fondly called) has met the end of its usable life.  Although we are a sailboat, the auxiliary engine is critical to our ability to do the kind of travel that Atalanta is designed to do and that we are doing with her.  Mr. Perkins began requiring more frequent and expensive service so we decided it was time, while in Trinidad, to have him changed.

We opted to purchase a Yanmar 4YH-4HTE which is a 100 HP engine.  While the new engine is 35 HP more than Mr. Perkins, it is physically smaller.  It was always felt that the Perkins was a bit underpowered for Atalanta.  The Yanmar should be better suited to pushing the boat through more difficult sea conditions.  It will be more efficient and use less fuel and of course be more reliable.
Re-powering a center cockpit boat is a complicated, difficult job.  The engine is tucked deep in the center of the boat under the galley.  In order to pull it out, one must remove the gen-set (another diesel engine, that generates 110 volt electricity), remove galley cabinetry, slide the 500-pound engine and transmission forward into the main salon of the boat and then lift it with a crane out through the companionway and off the boat. 

The new engine must then be hoisted by crane, maneuvered through the companionway, slid under the galley, and attached to engine mount rails.  Then the shaft has to be refitted, prop re-pitched, new exhaust system installed, and new instruments connected. 

This work is being performed by Gittens Engine Sales and Service company.  Adian Gittens is overseeing the job and has proven to be a master at figuring out the many details. 
We are looking forward to Atalanta’s return to the water the first week in January and continuing on with our adventure.  With her new engine, we will be able to be far more confident in her reliability and safety.

Thanks for following.

Richard and Kay

Mr. Perkins being extracted from under the Galley

He's out and in the Salon
This was the amazing part

On its way out the Companionway

And Mr. Perkins see the light of day
 for the first time in 31 years

Ready to be installed
(starboard side)

(Port Side)