New year, new me has been the motto for our boat moving forward into 2021. Since our arrival in French Polynesia in September 2020, we have been working diligently to get SV Marauder ready for her shiny new engine, the "life force" of our boat, so to speak. Along with all necessary running-around that comes with life-in general, this project has been our main focus-specifically Martin's. With his expertise in fiberglass work and custom fabrication, he has been working almost daily to structurally prepare our engine bay for the new Beta 90 from Beta Marine.
*Quick Tip: Repowering is not fun, no matter where it's done. It becomes even more of a headache if you have to do it aboard. Luckily, there is a local Beta Marine Dealer in Tahiti with affordable options for quality diesel engines. Yanmar is outstanding, but it'll break the bank. Volve Penta is also available locally, but their engines come with pros and cons. We have found that our perfect fit is the Beta 90, and their prices won't cause a heart attack. As is standard for a new engine, it also comes with a warranty-for peace of mind!
To give a quick synopsis of our engine situation, in July 2020 we sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti. Along the way, some internal issues arose in our engine head that completely decimated the engine head and pistons. This happened about 10 days out from Tahiti, and we completed the rest of our crossing under cautious sail until we reached the anchorage. Upon reflection as to what would be the best path to take in fixing our engine in Tahiti, we decided that it made more sense to purchase a new engine rather than ordering all the parts to repair our boat's original engine. After shipping and customs fees, it would cost roughly the same to replace the engine as it would to repair it, so we committed to replacing the engine.
It took us about two months to get the old ford engine out of the boat and properly destroyed. When repowering in FP, you can get customs fees waived as a transiting vessel if you have proof of your properly disposed engine. So, it took us a minute to figure out the ins and outs of coordinating a flatbed truck with a crane to come pick up and deliver our engine to the right yard, and all that was after we had taken the time to disassemble the existing engine to it's bare bones and lift it out of the engine bay onto the deck with a makeshift pulley-system.
Fast-forward to November, the engine bay was empty and cleaned, and our old ford was finally sitting at a yard in downtown Papeete. Now came the next part of the project... With the schematic and measurements for the new engine, we needed to make sure that the current set up would work for the new engine. Well, it wouldn't. The Beta will be slightly shorter in forward to aft length, and it'll be a little shorter in it's height as well. With this info, Martin dove into the engine bay project. He'd have to lengthen the support beams, and then paint. Though it sounds like a quick job, it required a lot of dedicated time, to sanding, measurements and cutting, fabricating and lamination of the spliced section, fiber glassing the new section in, and then a lot more sanding before priming [sanding] and painting. By early January, we were looking good!.
*Quick Tip: We have frequented 3 main shops in Papeete for our epoxy products: Sin Tun Hing Marine, Ocean 2000, and Michel's little chandlery in Marina Taina [Punaauia]. It has been frustrating to find specific products, such as West Systems epoxies. It has been even more frustrating to deal with local prices... But these frustrations come with the lifestyle, and it's understandable that Covid has made shipping times exponentially longer. So we need to work with what we're dealt!
Our Beta Marine dealer stopped by to run over engine placement, and other specific requirements, and between himself and Martin they learned that the existing beams would not work. The base would need to be slightly wider for the new engine. As crappy as it was to learn this, even after having had both of them go over the measurements together back in November, it needed to be done. So in mid-January, Martin reluctantly brought out the multi tool and cut away at weeks of hard work.
We are now into March, and I am elated to say the engine bay is ready for its new heart. Martin had to create new structural pieces to be fiber glassed into place, cut them at the right angles, and laminate them properly. Let's not forget how much sanding happens throughout the process, and then when all the structural fabrication in complete, the priming and painting finally come into play. After months, at this point, of labor hours in the hot box, we finally reached a stopping point in the engine bay prep. So now we wait, and with Brexit, we aren't sure how long we'll need to wait, as the engine is being shipped from the UK. We're crossing our fingers though and hoping for it to arrive by early April!