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Overheated in Great Harbour Cay

Wish it was the “spent-too-much-time-at-the-beach-and-didn’t-drink-enough-water” kind of overheated, but it’s the dreaded other kind. The “holy-crap-the-engine-is-definitely-overheating” kind.

Last I checked, engine overheating is not good. Ever. But we are slowly working our way through it.

When re-anchoring the other day, we noticed that the engine was getting a little hotter than normal. So we began investigating.

Jereme took apart and inspected our entire cooling system from start to finish — the thru-hull water intake; the raw water strainer (which was packed full of seaweed and we hoped that was the cause, but unfortunately it wasn’t); the raw water impeller pump; the thermostat; the coolant levels; and the entrance to the heat exchanger for any obstructions.


After checking all of the cooling system components and making sure they were all in proper working condition, we tested the engine again and it seemed to get a bit hotter than normal, but still didn’t cross into the “totally overheated” zone. So, we decided to go ahead and try to leave for Eleuthera by sailing around the tip of Great Harbour Cay to stage ourselves on the East side of the island in order to make the sail over to Spanish Wells.  Spanish Wells looks to have quite a few more “regular” services, including the marine kind, so we would have preferred to be in a location like that with our engine issues.

Sailing-Blog-LAHOWIND-Bimini Berry Eleuthera Map

^^our route so far and where we would like to head.^^

We pulled anchor on Easter Sunday after checking multiple weather sources and confirming that conditions looked a-okay. After sailing north along the west side of the island and getting close to Great Stirrup Cay, we quickly realized that conditions were turning a bit too hairy for our liking (it was more like 8-foot waves than the forecasted 1-2 foot ones, and more like 20-25 knot winds rather than the 10-15 showing on all the charts).  Neither of us were in the mood for unnecessary “sporty sailing” so we turned around and headed back to Great Harbour Cay.

We still hadn’t used the engine much that day, but turned it on when we got close to the marina (we decided to give ourselves an Easter gift/break for one night).  On the short trip in to the marina while straight up motoring, the engine got hot again. And this time, it pretty much made it in to the dreaded “red zone.” :(((


^^Our temp usually does not go above 180, but got into the 240 range.^^

After a bit more investigation, Jereme has now decided that it could possibly just be a faulty temperature gauge or the sending unit for the gauge.

We were able to borrow an infrared heat gun from another cruiser in the marina and proceeded to spot check the gauge readings. Turns out, it is WAY off! The heat gun was measuring 170 degrees on the hottest parts of the engine we could measure, but reading upwards of 240 on the panel.

We used our handy dandy Boat Owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder to test the gauge and it seemed to work fine. We also tested the wire and that checked out too. All that’s left now is the temperature sending unit (threaded into the engine)…and we think that’s the culprit! However…we don’t really want to try and remove the unit while stuck in a location without any marine services available. If we happen to break something in the process, we have no way to fix it and would be in deep you-know-what.

Luckily, we have a secondary temperature alarm that should go off when we actually overheat. That alarm seems to be in proper working condition and hasn’t actually gone off the past few times the engine overheated.

Usually, half the battle is just “diagnosing” the issue/root cause of the problem, and now it seems like we pretty much know that the engine is not actually overheating. Which is a huge relief!

>>Thanks for visiting LAHOWIND sailing blog! We’d love for you to get to know us and follow our story as we attempt to navigate a whole new world of sailing, as we cruise the Bahamas + Caribbean.

SailFarLiveFreeApril 22, 2014 - 11:22 pm

Do you have a hot water heater that’s heated via a loop from the engine’s cooling system while not on shorepower? If so, might be worth checking the lines, coil, ect for leaks or clogs. Hope you get it worked out soon. Safe travels!

Kelley - Sailing ChanceApril 23, 2014 - 2:16 am

Sadly we are WELL versed in all the mechanic and boat maintenance shops in Spanish Wells. Let us know any questions!

Jesse K on s/v SmittyApril 24, 2014 - 12:25 pm

Great work on trouble shooting and finding the problem.

Fair winds,


[…] a whole heck of a lot to do on the west side of the island (other than work on our silly overheating issue). So we decided to pack up and sail on over to the pretty beach side of the […]

[…] finally got to work fixing our faulty engine temperature gauge. Yup, the same one that broke waaaaaaaaaay back in Great Harbour Cay, Bahamas. Which was um like five months ago, but […]