Diesel Engine Maintenance Workshop, Hota

By Timothy Langley, June 3, 2024

Trouble-shooting and maintaining a diesel engine on a sailboat is as important as tying the right kind of knot in a given situation.

Burkowsky’s 1979 33′ Peterson Garuda, Edward’s 1990 22′ Catalina Wingkeel Bluewind II and (right) Langley’s 1985 26′ Yamaha Santana.

A group of TSPS sailors gathered at the well-known sailing port of Hota on Chiba Peninsula to examine a diesel engine in a 45 year old yacht this weekend. Originally intended to be a refresher-course, it turned into a hands-on workshop examining and trouble-shooting the most likely terminal-troubles a sailor might confront while at sea… the most unfortunate time for these issues to arise. So yes: kinda life-or-death.

David Lechevalier and Julian Koe

Captain Evan Burkowsky, one of the most accomplished sailors within TSPS, held court with a collection of sailors, some captains in their own rights, to examine the fuel-system, electricals, and handy-hacks to address a sudden issue quickly. This was hands-on with participants getting their hands dirty and feeling for themselves the difficulties in access, the tools required, the sounds emitted that signal a problem arising or the echos of success after adjustments. All captains know that the boat talks to you, if you just know how to listen.

Julian Koe, Evan Burkowsky, Dave Edwards: Garuda’s engine bay

In typical TSPS fashion, the workshop went long and by the time we tidied-up, the fabulous Banya restaurant had closed, the bath was closed, and only nearby Odoya grocery saved the day.

Timothy Langley, Dave Edwards, Julian Koe, David Lechevalier: Odoya grocery store at closing… very slim-pickings

Everyone ended up munching their own selection of favorite foods, a veritable mishmash, shared beers and red-wine, and called it a night around 10:30.

Dave Edwards w/ his main course
Steve Klimek with his sausage, potato chips & popcorn
Health-conscious Julian Koe proudly showing-off his balanced assortment of 25 items
A sumptuous meal was had by all….David Lechevalier negotiating a pack of sliced-ham (eventually winning)
Libations and hilarious stories shared: David E., Stephen K., Julian k., Evan B.

All retired to their own respective boats under a sky sprinkled with stars, the echos of paddy-frogs croaking, waves lightly lapping, and in the distance, the reverberating snore of some waterbuffalo.

A placid evening full of stars but few boats in-port

Sunrise in a morning ignited by riotous squawking of thousands of sea-hawks (at the Fisherman’s Association processing incoming catches) found the port full of activity. David Lechevalier, grinding fresh coffee from within Bluewind II, was popular on the floating dock. Captain Evan, readying his boat for departure, still providing advice on a vast range of questions that just never stopped: sailing is such a deep and broad pastime, requiring mastery of hundreds of skills. Having a sounding board with such deep experience is so very important and valuable. Having this kind of opportunity and the luxury of time is rare, in fact.

Julian Koe scrubbing the hull, Dave Edwards providing oversight & management, Evan Burkowsky hasn’t stopped talking since we started

With the Banya hotsprings 70 meters away opening 7:30am, everyone got freshened-up, some necessarily so after diving into the waters to scrape the bottom of the boat… another essential maintenance issue. It turns out that yes, Punk: between 5:00am and 7:30, you can get a lot done!

“You need to hydrate” the doctor said.

This first workshop was a great success. Follow-up plans to focus on cooling-systems, electricals and trouble-shooting is already in the works. If you are interested, please provide a Comment or voice your preferences at the upcoming Keelhaul.

Finally, in addition to a thank-you to Captain Evan for the instruction (and for the hospitality of his roomy 33’ Peterson sailing yacht), a hearty shout-out to John Kratochvil for originally initiating the Workshop-in-Hota idea in the first place. Thank you to the others who sailed from distant locations to have what turned-out to be a very insightful, instructive workshop, a slapped-together dinner, a lovely sunrise coffee, bookended with two exhilarating days of sailing to and back on Tokyo Bay.

What a great weekend! Let’s do it again.

Bluewind II departing for 4 hour sail back to home-port Yumenoshima, encountering a shark on the way!
Garuda of restoration-fame.
Timothy Langley broadcasting his weekly Sunday-morning briefing from the deck of Santana
Timothy Langley

About Timothy Langley

I have only been sailing for the last 5 years or so. I was originally drawn to TSPS and to the alien-to-me suggestion of sailing (I wasn't really looking) when a friend invited me to a Keelhaul. Several friends and old-timers who I never imagined were connected to the sea were active Members. After a few pints and lots of lobbying, I thought "why not...". I stopped hitting the sauna on weekends and working on old cars and, in no time, was sailing regularly. In my plight for sailing opportunities & begging for crewing time on someone else's yacht, I stumbled on a decrepit yacht that needed some attention. So I purchased it, fixed it up and sailed the heck out of it. It is now a very proper and reliable sailing vessel. And, as a consequence, I have become somewhat competent as a solo sailor (though this is a long road). I long for something bigger (Santana is a 40 year old Yamaha 26' possessing a proper enclosed head, a good galley, two berths, dry, comfy, reliable: sleeps 4) but in the meantime I am out on the Pacific almost every weekend. Completely smitten.

5 thoughts on “Diesel Engine Maintenance Workshop, Hota

    1. Thank you, Svet. We wish you were there, too… maybe then the guys wouldn’t be so slovenly. But then again, maybe not. But the way to keep in-touch is to sign-into the WhatsApp group “Engine Class” where there is an ongoing dialogue. Similarly, there is a very active WhatsApp group on Hayama Sailing and Crew Finding, which is a terrific way to get time under sail. Please attend the follow-up Workshop?

  1. Thanks for the great write up Timothy! It was a great time and I really enjoyed the opportunity to pass on some of the things I learned from my Dad working as a teenager on his fish boat.

    For the next session we’ll dive into the cooling system and troubleshoot common overheating issues, how to swap out impellers and rebuild water pumps, replacing thermostats, and the infamous Yanmar mixing elbow, one of the very few weak points on these engines.

    A small correction; I noticed Timothy somehow stole 2’ from BWII and added it to Santana 😉. BWII is a Catalina 22, Santana is a Yamaha 26. He’s just jealous cause I have a bigger boat now 😂

  2. Superb reporting in Education field – worthy of a Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting…..

  3. Looks really interesting. I knew about this event and would have liked to attend but had other commitments that weekend. Thanks for arranging such events – really adds value to being a TSPS member.

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