Idle or kill motor when under sail? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 05-08-2010
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Idle or kill motor when under sail?

So I was told that I should keep the motor idling in neutral when under sail. The reason given to me is that keeping the motor running will prolong its life. However, this is a little counter-intuitive to me, as the more hours you put on a motor, the less life it has left.

Sure, having the engine power is nice when raising and lowering the main, at the start and end of a cruise. But do you really need to keep the motor idling all the time when you're out sailing for 5 or 6 hours at a time?
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Old 05-08-2010
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Shut the diesel off when sailing. Prolonged idling is not good for a diesel. In fact when you start it try to run it at speed for at least a few minutes to get it to full temperature.
Maybe the confusion is what to do with the transmission. Letting the prop spin free is supposed to cause a little less drag but some transmissions will wear unless locked in reverse, check your manual.

Definitely do not leave the diesel running when sailing at it interferes with the illusion that we are real sailors rather than motor sailors.
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Old 05-08-2010
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Why would you do that. It puts excessive hours on the engine, leads to the engine getting carbon buildup since it is idling, etc... This is really a bad idea. Idling the motor for long periods of time is just STUPID.

Whoever told you doesn't know donkey crap about diesel engines or sailing IMHO.

The only time you might do something like this is if you're entering a narrow channel or fairway and might need the engine in a hurry if the wind dies—then it makes sense...but to do it when sailing in open waters is ridiculous.
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Old 05-08-2010
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The Yanmar people at Mack Boring suggest that you run the diesel at cruising speed(80% of max.rpm) for a few hours a couple of times a season. This fully heats the oil and burns off any moisture in the oil. Idling will not do that. This procedure counteracts the water that condenses in the oil when you only run the engine a few minutes at a time.
Besides, one of the great moments of a sail happens when the sails are up, the boat starts to heel and you shut off the engine and listen to the wind and the water.
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Old 05-08-2010
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No, shut it down for the reasons stated above.

What model transmission do you have? That will effect whether you should leave it in neutral or reverse when sailing (with the engine off of course). The only thing that this effects is whether the prop is spinning or not. On some transmissions, the oil pump doesn't work in neutral so you don't want to let the prop freewheel.
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Sorry, I should've stated that my motor is a Yamaha 8hp 4-stroke gasoline outboard motor. So does this change anything?
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Old 05-08-2010
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Not particularly...idling any internal combustion engine for long periods of time is generally a bad idea. Also, if you kill the engine, you can often raise it up out of the water, reducing the boat's drag and increasing the speed you can reach under sail. I have a 20 HP Honda outboard and when I lift it out of the water, I pickup almost a knot of boat speed, if not a bit more.

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Originally Posted by dboy4ever View Post
Sorry, I should've stated that my motor is a Yamaha 8hp 4-stroke gasoline outboard motor. So does this change anything?
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Old 05-08-2010
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the idea behind that is that the engines typically don't run enough to clean them out good. Just give is a good long run once in awhile and shut if off when sailing.
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Old 05-08-2010
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Sailing is boating without the offensive engine noise. Why anyone would unnecessarily sail with a motor running is counter-intuitive, wrong, silly, illogical, or jaw-dropping stupid. I'd suggest the latter.
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Old 05-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k1vsk View Post
Why anyone would unnecessarily sail with a motor running is counter-intuitive, wrong, silly, illogical, or jaw-dropping stupid.
What he said.
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