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Yorksafloat 08-15-2009 10:39 PM

Cruising Spare Parts
This is a somewhat philosophical question.* When putting together spare parts for extended cruising, how extensive should the list be with respect to parts that you can't personally install?
For example, if it's beyond your personal ability to pull the top off the engine to dive into valves and other arcane bits and pieces, do you bother carrying the various parts that might be replaced in such an event?* Or do you hope you can limp into a port and then order the various parts that might be needed?
When trying to put together my cruising spares list, it's getting a little overwhelming. Where do you stop?* Or do you end up essentially carrying a disassembled spare engine?*
I'm leaning toward just taking spares for systems that I can repair while at sea and making sure everything else has been serviced and checked before leaving.
M/V Antipodes

Tidahapah 08-16-2009 04:32 AM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
First up are you single or twin, do you have a get home engine.
If either of the later 2 then dont worry too much about major spares.
A complete exchange of belts, exchange starter motor, generator a couple of injectors and pump impellers.
If you are a single then the list becomes fairly extensive, the above plus spare HP fuel lines, (GP lines that will fit any where) , damper plate and knowledge of how to lock in your gear box in case of plate or hydraulic failure.

I am a single screw believer but not an ocean crosser but I do venture a few hundred miles off the coast for a few weeks at a time on long distance fishing trips and I carry the above and with the knowledge that I can carry out most repairs that could be required, seas and weather permitting .
There are many perms and cons of what is best to carry and it all also relates to the areas `you are going to cruise in.

Thats my 2 c worth.


FF 08-16-2009 05:30 AM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
Just a concept , left over from sail cruising.

ANY "spare" part (alternator , starter , V regulator , water pump,et all) should be fitted to the engine before departure.

The parts removed, that are working just fine become the spares.

Renove and replace stuff only , not for valve guides etc.

A real danger with a wet exhaust is flooding the engine with sea water, so at least 3 ,and I prefer enough material for 5 oil changes . You can use up the excess in a coastal jaunt.

All filters ( fuel and lube oil) are suspect , as there made for immediate installation so must be air tight bagged to store on board.


Keith 08-16-2009 06:40 AM

Cruising Spare Parts
Carrying the proper spares can make the difference between a quick repair and waiting weeks for parts in distant locales. I carry LOTS, including American Diesel's recommended parts for long range cruising. Even locally, when something goes out I have the spare to replace it. Of course you're investing a lot of $$ into an inventory. But when that AC cooling water pump goes out in the middle of the summer, it's nice to be able to change it out in minutes instead of hours/days.

I'd be happy to send anyone my spares inventory if you're interested. Write me at

-- Edited by Keith on Sunday 16th of August 2009 06:42:10 AM

rednev 08-16-2009 06:43 AM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
Depends where you intend to cruise but if you end up in some out of the way place if you have the spares you might find a local with the smarts ,no spares the smarts become superflous.

Forkliftt 08-16-2009 06:54 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
We had some good spares on board when we got the girl. One suggestion I have is to be sure they are properly protected. I have two new Lehman 135 waterpumps that have surface rust. I need to have them disassembled/ cleaned and inspected before I ever consider installing one. Any tips on storage? Seems I saw a suggestion on "Seal a Meal"Steve

2bucks 08-16-2009 08:45 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
I'm a seal a meal believer. I buy Racor filters by the case and seal them. (draw a vacuum just until the bag hits the filter and then heat seal. The filter will collapse if you pull it all the way down) My spare fuel lines, yes the pre-bent high pressure ones, the rubber transmission hoses, rubber fuel filter hoses, spare fuel pump, spare engine fresh water and raw water pumps, radiator cap, oil fill cap, spare oil filters, O-rings, alternator, starter, belts, hoses for everything, spare rubber hose to bypass tank to filter, universal battery cables, air filter, prop nuts, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something, are all sealed in seal a meal. They are clean, dry and ready to go. I did not seal my spare piece of 3.5 inch exhaust hose because I don't think anything can hurt that stuff.

I'd love to figure out a way to seal my prop puller but there are no bags big enough. It's just in it's own oversize ziplock with preservative spread on it. Yes I carry a 2 5/16" (memory on size) combination wrench to change the prop. I don't dive, but I think as mentioned before that I can hire that locally if I have the tools and replacements.

I don't currently carry a spare drive plate since mine is only a year old. Replaced it after coasting into a slip when the other broke. Had all the tools, did it myself.

FF's idea above of fitting the replacement and carrying the old as a spare is good advice for many parts. When I bought my boat I had no history on hoses and belts. Buying a replacement for all the trans coolers, oil filters etc, allowed the still working hoses to be known spares. As mentioned above, it does add up to a fair amount of money, but if you do a little each month or so it doesn't attract the bookkeepers eye. (I love you dear)

My spare prop is one I replaced becasue it was too old to computer tune. Pieces were popping out when beat on. It still works fine, and hopefully in 20 years or so, someone else will decide to spend $1500 to buy a replacement for it. I'm not going to.

I have a single screw, and I cruise out of the way places by myself, no buddy boats. I intend to be as self sufficient as possible. Could something happen that I can't repair or replace? Sure, but when it happens I want it to be something really exotic.


2bucks 08-16-2009 08:48 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
Oh, I forgot. Paint your spare water pumps, starters, injector pipes, etc now. It helps keep the rust off, and looks much better when installed. On the bench you can mask, and clean drips easily. You just can't paint the back side of a raw water pump very well once you put it on.


FF 08-17-2009 04:15 AM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts

We have used these folks many times and find their prices really good!

A discount spare prop will coat 1/3 of what a flown in replacement on a cruise would cost.

Phuket 08-17-2009 07:18 AM

Cruising Spare Parts
I have very basic spares on board right now but have just recently picked up a complete motor and gearbox the same as mine that have come out of a sailboat to make way for a new engine. *They are still on the shelf at work but I plan to pull off common fail items and service and protect them to keep on board and keep the big bits at work in case they are needed in future. *

If I ever push accross to the top of Indonesia (about 200 NM accross open sea from Phuket) as I would like to next year for a couple of weeks, I will put some of the bigger bits on board just for that trip.

Bits I would keep on board regularly, apart from consumables, include starter, salt water pump, alternator, fuel feed pump, selection of hoses and plenty of clamps and assorted plumbing bits. *HP fuel lines are a good idea as they can stop the engine quickly or at least make a big mess and cannot be easily bodged up due to the pressures.

I run a repair shop in a place where spares often take time to find and import taxes are high so I often see boats idle waiting for a small part. *Those that have the spares on board we can fix quickly and they are on their way just for the cost of the labour. *For older engines of brands that I am not regularly ordering parts for I usually ask the customer to order themselves so that if the part comes wrong or is seriously delayed I am not held responsible.

But if you are boating in areas where parts are readily available I would not keep more than basics on board as others have mentioned it is hard to keep them in good condition. *Many times we have had customers give us their "new spares" that are in worse condition from sitting in the bilge than the broken bit off the engine.

I nearly forgot, one of the best spares you can carry is a full gasket kit for your engine - little bit difficult to store, but can really make a big difference for many different problems.

-- Edited by Phuket on Monday 17th of August 2009 07:25:20 AM

Marin 08-17-2009 11:21 AM

Cruising Spare Parts
While we carry two spare fuel lift pumps, a spare coolant pump, a spare raw water pump and impellers, fuel filters, and a couple of spare oil/transmision fluid coolers, we dont' put a huge emphasis on spare engine/transmission parts because we carry an entire spare engine and transmission complete with their own prop shaft, struts, bearings, prop, and rudder. If we were in the business of taking long ocean voyages we would put much more emphasis on driveline spares, particularly as for this kind of cruising we would most certainly have a single engine boat.

We've needed our spare engine four times, once on the first run after taking delivery of the boat for a coolant pump leak, twice for raw water intake blockages, and once for my letting an engine get a slug of air during a fuel transfer. Operating on the spare engine is very simple and involves only tying off the shaft of the engine that has been shut down. We then proceed to finish our cruise.

-- Edited by Marin on Monday 17th of August 2009 11:22:27 AM

2bucks 08-17-2009 01:56 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
Good point Marin. What do you suppose it costs extra to carry the spare engine? There's initial cost of course but that's pretty much amortized with as old as our boats are. I'm thinking about you wearing out fuel pumps twice as fast as I do. You wear out every belt, hose and filter twice as fast. My spare prop never gets dinged while mounted in the bilge, yours need a tune up every now and again? I don't think you use twice as much fuel, but probably half again, I've used 99.6 gallons so far on vacation this year, your spare engine used another 50 so that's what $125 just to carry the spare? Not to mention I'm still in Refuge Cove next to Penny Lane (Who?) and still have to run all the way home.

While the spare engine theory sounds good, it is a considerable expense. My spare fuel pump is warm and dry in the engine room ready to be used. Yours is wearing out, and it sounds like you have invested more money in 2 additional spares.

I did get towed in once. 28 years ago I had a blade come off the propeller on my 27' Fairliner. I had recently bought it and no one caught the crevice corrosion on the blade. Since then, knock on wood, throw salt and all those other things, I've fixed every underway problem that has arisen. Up to and including flex plates.


Marin 08-17-2009 04:39 PM

Cruising Spare Parts

2bucks wrote:

Good point Marin. What do you suppose it costs extra to carry the spare engine?
The cost of a spare driveline is basically double that of having just one on board.* The only cost that's not exactly doubled is fuel, but as you say,*it's probably at least half again as much a single.

However I'm not sure about wearing out things twice as fast a single.* In theory, the fuel pumps on each engine of the twin will last as long as the fuel pump on the only engine of a single, assuming the same engines and pumps.**The belt on*either one of my FL120s should last as long as the belt on someone elses' only FL120.* So in terms of service life, there should be no difference between a single and a twin (assuming the same kind of boat, engines, etc.).* The big difference is cost, and the time spent performing mainenance or repairs.

The main reason we have invested in things like spare pumps, etc. is so that we have them on hand when we need them rather than perhaps having to wait one or more weeks to get one in.* We use the boat year round and don't want to be sidelined because we have to wait for a part.* The parts we carry-- like pumps and toilet rebuild kits and such--- are not selected based on the liklihood of being needed but on the liklihood of not being readily availalble when we need them.

And while your spare prop never gets dinged sitting in the bilge, it's also not going to push the boat while it's sitting in the bilge.* So you have to go to the hassle of taking off the damaged prop and putting on the spare one.* Our spare prop is already mounted* And so far, in the eleven years we've been running the boat on a year-round basis, we've not dinged, nicked, or even scratched either of the props.

I also don't want to interrupt a run to deal with a breakdown even if I had the part and tools on board.* Pitching and rolling in the middle of the Strait of Georgia on a bad day while I replace a fuel pump or whatever is not my idea of fun.* So to me it's well worth doubling the cost of maintenance to not have to worry about dealing with a drivetrain problem in the middle of going somewhere.* When through ignorance I let an engine get a slug of air during a fuel transfer last year, I knew why it stopped and I knew how to bleed it to get it going again.* But we had a boatload of friends on board, they had committments they had to be home for that evening, so I simply tied off the shaft of the "dead" engine and we continued on our way back to Bellingham at*about the same*speed we'd been going before.* Our friends made their appointment and I bled the engine the following weekend.

Mind you, I'm not trying to make the case that a twin is better or more reliable than a single.* When we went shopping for a*GB36 we didn't care if it was a single or* twin.* We'd been chartering a single and were perfectly comfortable running it.* But as it happened the boat that best met our needs and budget was a twin.* Plus as I've said before, I like running engines.* The more the merrier.* I'd have three or four*of them if I could.

Because we keep our boat in Bellingham and we have a 24 foot VHF antenna we hear a lot of the San Juan and Gulf Island radio chatter even if we spend the weekend on the boat in port.* It's amazing how many boats we hear during the summer on nice weekends*calling for a tow after their engine quits.* Granted, some of them are "out of fuel" calls, so the number of engines is irrelevant.* And some of them are sailboats*so*multiple engines*wasn't an option.* But many of them are single-engine powerboats and Vessel Assist seems to do a very good business during the summer months dragging them home on the end of a rope.

But much more imporant than my liking to run as many engines as possible or the perceived reliability factor of having two engines is the fact that even though my wife had no qualms about the single-engine GB we charted, she has admitted that she's more confident with two engines under the floor.* And keeping one's boating partner as happy as possible is right up there at the top on my priority list.


-- Edited by Marin on Monday 17th of August 2009 05:06:56 PM

2bucks 08-17-2009 08:41 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
Marin said: "However I'm not sure about wearing out things twice as fast a single. In theory, the fuel pumps on each engine of the twin will last as long as the fuel pump on the only engine of a single, assuming the same engines and pumps. The belt on either one of my FL120s should last as long as the belt on someone elses' only FL120. So in terms of service life, there should be no difference between a single and a twin"

My point was perhaps too subtle. You are running two engines at 1650, I run one at 1650-1750 depending on my mood. My one fuel pump is wearing out. Both of yours are wearing out at a very similar rate. For example my pump may wear out in 5 years, your two pumps probably will also. Your mechanic charges 1 hour labor to replace each pump, 2 hours labor. Mine charges 1 hour to replace 1 pump. You and I might agree that we replace our hoses and belts every 3 years as routine maintenance. You replace 2 of everything I replace one of. That's where I was headed with twice the maintenance cost.

I agree that 2 feels good, and if it makes the mate happy the cost isn't a deal breaker. As for the boats being towed in, ask the Boat US or other fellow how many 36' plus boats he's towed in this YEAR. Then compare the number of 19' boats he pulled in last MONTH. We are a different kind of boater than the weekend warrior who gets towed twice a year. At least thats my impression.


Marin 08-17-2009 11:42 PM

RE: Cruising Spare Parts
I completely agree with your twice the cost assessment. We replace twice of everything--- belts, pumps, coolant, oil, filters, etc. This is one reason that I try to do as much work on our engines as I can--- the parts or materials don't cost any less but it eliminates the labor bill which is usually much more than the parts or materials. I changed the coolant in our engines yesterday. Took a bit over two hours (a lot of the time was taken up waiting for the coolant to drain out through the petcock). At today's diesel shop labor rates of nearly $100/hr, that was $300 or so we didn't spend if you include the time it takes the mechanic to get to and from the shop, prep the materials, dispose of the coolant, etc.

And yes, the majority of boats we hear in trouble tend to be "19' powerboat" or "25 foot powerboat" as announced by the US or Canadian Coast Guards. But we've heard a fair number of larger boats calling for tow help over the years, too. But most of the larger recreational power boats, be it Bayliner, Fleming, or anything in between, tend to be twins. So they can probably get themselves home on their own if they have to shut one down.

Heard one guy trying to get to Anacortes when we had the boat down at our island in the southern San Juans the other weekend. He had a twin and they were both running fine, but he had lost his steering. He was heading back in using his engines to steer but by the time he got close to the harbor he asked for a tow to get him inside to his slip.

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