Fixing engine coolant pump and an amazing days sailing

I guess my titles are becoming more and more literal. Soon it’s gonna devolve down to ‘I did a Thing and then another Thing’. Anyway.

My original plan was to head to Orcas island on Friday 1st July. This is Canada Day, but the fireworks kinda suck in Victoria and the wind was supposed to be a bit better than the Saturday so I was going to be ultra patriotic and leave the country and head to the States.

Unfortunately while I was doing an engine check I noticed a lake of antifreeze in the bottom of the engine tray. A quick peek seem to suggest it was coming from an improperly tightened bolt so if I tightened that it should all be gravy, right? Wrong. I tightened and started the engine, only to be greeted with a torrent of bright green antifreeze going everywhere, like a scene from Ghostbusters. It appears the seal inside the raw water* pump had gone! Now, the chances of a) finding an open parts place on Canada Day and b) them having the stuff I need was very very low I figured. But, I wanted to get across to Orcas so I gave it a try….

… and found a place that was open and had the parts I needed! Whatttttttt!

So I started. First thing was to remove the pump. Here it is with the cover removed


Here is the whole pump before I started pulling it to pieces. Notice the service manual as I try to figure out what the heck goes where


The pump with various innards scattered around


Then I had to drive around for a while picking up the various seals and more antifreeze etc etc, and finally it was time to put the thing back together


While doing so I slipped and gashed a big chunk out of my knuckle. Didn’t hurt but WOULDN’T stop bleeding over the next few days, sadly I didn’t notice until most of the engine/cabin/bathroom was covered in blood splatters. Nice.

Then it was time to FIRE ‘ER UP BOYS


Notice anything? Like the complete lack of leaking?! HELL YES I’M THE BEST (also the engine is a 30 year old 2 cylinder diesel so it always sounds like that – i.e like it’s exploding. That’s normal.)

With that done I decided to leave tomorrow, but since I was there anyway I decided to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately since I’d already blown off everyone with a smug ‘I’m not going to be here’, making last minute plans was tricky but I had the idea to have Emma and her parents over, so I could show them that I had an actually seaworthy boat and wasn’t going to drown their little girl in August. I asked them to ignore the blood splatters everywhere, and assured them I didn’t have a corpse stashed below.

The next day arrived, and it was actually sunny! And 10-15 knots from a direction that wasn’t ‘right in front of me!’

I motored out the harbour in high hopes


Once I turned the engine off outside the breakwater, I didn’t turn it on until I reached my anchorage in West Sound! Amazing!

First I had a beautiful beam reach all the way past trial island (a beam reach is the wind from the side and is probably my favourite point of sail – it never seems to happen around here)


In fact it was SO nice I actually made a video of it – it’s not really that interesting but shows how nice a beam reach is. Notice the relative lack of heeling, wind screeching and loud swearing. And Gudge was still making 7-8 knots! (with current)


Anyway, smugness comes before a fall and THAT came in the form of some really odd seas between discovery island and San Juan island, right around the border. Suddenly a ton of really steep chop appeared, with vertical 3/4 foot chop. After around 20 minutes of this I started feeling really ill which was distinctly not fun :<. This carried on for the next couple of hours and although I wasn’t actually sick, it was very uncomfortable. I really need to figure out a way to not get as seasick – I suffered from motion sickness a lot when I was a pilot (I said I CAN FLY PLANES, ladies) and found those dumb little bands really helped. So maybe time to give them a try again.

Once round the south side of San Juan, the seas calmed down and I figured out how to sail through cattle pass, which I’d never done before. The current was running strong, 3kts, and it was going to be a challenge to get through without running ashore or bouncing off another boat. However, with the help of a strong broad reach I made it through. Full marks to the huge powerboat coming the other way that almost ran me down, and then waved at me as I took evasive action to dodge him (and then got hit by his huge wake). THANKS BUDDY

Going up the passage between san juan and lopez the wind dropped and switch to directly behind. I decided to pole out the jib for some wing on wing (hot hot sailing action).

This was the first time I’d done this solo as mucking around with the spinnaker pole is a huge pain, but i’m getting better at it!


This of course meant I got to wave smugly at all the sailboats motoring past, which is really what sailing is all about (being disdainful and snobbish about motor boats, sailboats using their engine, bigger boats, smaller boats, boats who are reefed when you aren’t, boats who aren’t reefed when you are, people using too much rode, people anchoring too close, people anchoring too far away and boats with puns in the name). It’s a big list to remember but thems the breaks.

From there it was a small bit of going into the wind down obstruction passage, and then a nice broad reach to finish off. Before anchoring in for the night:




*the pump was originally a raw water (seawater) cooling pump but the Yanmar did a weird factory-yet-after-market conversion to freshwater cooling on a bunch of the 2QM20s, so the pump now pumps coolant around the engine, while the raw water pump switched to a different pump. Fascinating stuff!



  1. Interesting! I thought it looked like a raw water pump. Envious of that beam reach. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yup it was lovely! A rare one as well, as around here the wind seems to blow either into your face (70%), or from directly behind you (30%)

  2. i”m a year late, but I don’t think you should have anti-freeze in your raw water pump; that indicates a leak in your heat exchanger and then you would be pumping out antifreeze with the exhaust water….unless the pump you have dismantled is the circulation pump, but it does look like raw water??

    • Hey Bruce

      It’s a strange setup but basically Yanmar did a weird ‘aftermarket’ conversion to freshwater cooling on a bunch of their raw water cooled 2QM20s. This involved adding another pump for raw water and using the existing raw water pump to run antifreeze through an added heat exchanger

  3. Hi what does the chain gear contraption do. I had that part in a pile that came with my boat but the upper assembly was removed from the engine block and I don’t know what it does. Yours wasn’t spinning in your video. Larry

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