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Old 09-14-2019, 07:57 PM
amizerin amizerin is offline
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Taking long passages with gas engine

Hello All!

I have Grampian 28 with Atomic 4 engine. So far I've been sailing mostly along the coast line and day time but as many I started thinking about to try something bigger. Specifically, I'm thinking to sail down to the South along the East Coast towards Caribbean. I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

My boat is in good shape. There is still work to do in order to prepare it for a long haul but it's manageable. My major concern is the engine, and specifically the fact that it's a gasoline engine. My tank is 76 liters (20 Gallons). I'm a bit hesitant to take gasoline with me in cans like people take diesel and store on the deck. What if I need motoring long distance to a marina or due to lack of wind? What if I need to run engine to charge my batteries to keep lights, bilge pump and navigation going? 20 gallons does not seem to be safe amount of fuel considering high fuel consumption of gas engine.

Does anybody have experience sailing long distances with Atomic 4?

Last edited by amizerin; 09-14-2019 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 09-14-2019, 10:13 PM
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Al Schober Al Schober is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amizerin View Post

Does anybody have experience sailing long distances with Atomic 4?
Perhaps you meant 'motoring' long distances?
Fuel storage on deck doesn't bother me. I clamped a length of 2x3 to a pair of stanchions with stainless U-bolts, then lashed the jugs to that. Keep one side of the deck clear for rigging a jack line / going forward.
Longest I've run the A4 continuously is about 30 hours, just hard enough to keep boat speed up to 5 knots while motor sailing in light wind. Used only half of my 20 gallon tank!
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:12 AM
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Twice now, we've motored down the ICW from the Cheaspeakevto Florida, with an occasional 2day offshore leg. We have a 30 gal tank, and I carry 3 or 4 five gallon jugs Lashed on deck as described above.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:59 AM
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I don't do long distances, maybe 40 - 50 miles, but I'll offer this anyway:
  • A modest 100W solar panel should be able to keep up with lighting (switch to LED wherever you can), instrumentation and bilge pump operation (should be minimal BP operation anyway).
  • I might be the only member here with two fuel tanks but there are advantages, particularly but not limited to all your eggs aren't in one basket. With one tank, fuel contamination leaves you dead in the water. A second tank provides an uncontaminated reserve you can switch to and carry on. Recent first hand experience on this one.
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Last edited by ndutton; 09-15-2019 at 12:41 PM. Reason: added drawing
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:38 AM
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I've been on multiple long passages. Granted, they were on diesel boats.
However, to be self-efficient fuel wise, we carried both diesel and gas on the deck lashed exactly as Al describes.
(Practically any long voyage cruiser carries extra fuel)

On one of the vessels we only had a 30 gal tank and on 2 or 3 occasions (overnight passages) we had to re-fuel while underway.
There are a lot of efficient and safe ways of doing this but on our vessel the skipper had a simple battery operated pump that made the transfer simple.
Neil's setup is the gold standard if you can adopt it.

A 20 gal tank should easily get you 15+ hours of running before adding fuel.
(As we say, YMMV)

My point is, you can make a passage with a 20 gal tank bringing along spare fuel.
As Ed said, he's done it twice and very safely.
One thing to maybe discuss, and Ed is our experience here, is oil usage/changing for a long voyage.
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:54 AM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is offline
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Important

One thing to keep well in mind is how the beastie is tuned. It isn't how much fuel you can carry it is how well your engine uses that finite fuel supply. I have been a good mechanic and carb specialist most all of my life so keeping the tune good was easy for me.
I had an E35MKII and I could cruise at 5~5 1/2 knts in light winds and chop using around .7 gallons and hour. The fuel per hour is your base for cruising at an economical speed. You should be able to do a bit better at perhaps a bit slower speed with a bit shorter water line. Find your sweet spot which is easy to do with a vacuum gage and some testing.
A poorly tuned engine may run just fine but use as much as double the fuel because of tune, hull cleanliness and the prop.
A good base for fuel consumption with gas is "2HP per pound" of fuel per hour or about 15HP per gallon. Your G28 should be using around 10~15 HP through the cruising range or less.
Your prop and RPM are a big influence too as it controls the load you put on the engine. And the carb settings determine how much is metered at what efficiency. Checking the plugs for color is a big help and some here have even used an O2 sensor for carb tuning.
Once you know your usage and how far you "may need to go" you can determine how much fuel you need, then add 10% for bad weather safety.
Once you are set you still need to have a way to transfer the fuel in a safe manner.

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Old 09-15-2019, 12:14 PM
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I too hold 20 gallons and we have done Maryland to New England and Maryland to Bermuda (750 miles, no stops).
20 gallons should last at least a month for generating electricity and potentially a lot longer if you are clever with LEDs and solar.
There was no expectation at all we could motor the entire way to Bermuda. Coming home - not racing - we would motor in calms but I had to save some gas for getting into port. We usually had 5 or 10 gallons in jugs coming home, none outbound. I have jugs on deck frequently for the dinghy anyway for local cruising or because it is easier to run over to the fuel dock for 5 gallons and bring it back then to up-anchor to get it.
Your trip has been done in all manner of craft including engineless ones, so keep that in mind. If you have the cash, a diesel swap will gain you a lot of range, but if you have that kind of money I would get a bigger boat
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:05 AM
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I guess it depends on whether you have time to wait a week or two for favorable wind on each leg...

Itís something that Iíve worried about. I only have a 17 gallon tank and usually take two or three 5-gallon cans if going any distance. Iíve never tried to transfer fuel in really boisterous conditions - generally would be sailing then, anyway. (? Except that time when you really, really need to?) But maybe my use case is aberrant. To get home, Iíve got to go 150 miles up a big river with currents ranging from 3 - 6 knots. Sometimes the wind will take you up, sometimes not. If I were to go out long-term cruising with this boat, Iíd probably have a custom second tank made. Seems like one needs at least one can, for schlepping down the road from gas stations, where thereís no fuel dock. Not to mention fueling the dinghy and the dive compressor.

In some cruising guide, I read the proposition that ďa west-coast cruising boat must have a motoring range of 200 miles.Ē I think this was based on the maximum distance between ports, where you might be trying to beat a nasty weather system, or getting timely to a hurricane hole in the Sea of Cortez. E.g., going North up the coast, often involves dashing from port to port between low pressure systems.

So, can we make that work with an A4 and 30 gallons of gas?

Re: oil. Iíve thought (wishful thinking?) that the aftermarket oil-filter kits might help stretch out the hours between oil changes. Anyway, Iíve bought one, but havenít installed it yet.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:14 AM
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I have an oil filter kit and my oil looks brand new when I change it in the fall
Keep in mind the oil pressure adjustment on that thing can be tricky. I found Shell Rotella 15W-40 plays very nice with that setup and usually my oil pressure gauge is welded onto 40 PSI except for a cold start. What I would do different if I were putting in another one would be instead of "2-blocking" the oil pressure adjustment at the aft end of the engine, assuming it still worked well I would turn it up to about 60 PSI and set the filter for 40 PSI. Being at the far end of the engine, the filter valve has a hard time with really cold oil on initial start.
Re the 200 miles:Long range unrefueled motoring trips are not the strong point of A4 powered boat for the most part. I could only get 200 miles with 30 gallons of gas in flat calm weather - maybe. Smaller boats may do much better, put pushing a 35 foot boat upwind is a marginal endeavor for the little beasts. Against any significant weather I would be lucky to make 140-150 miles on 30 gallons. We never refueled in rough weather offshore, if there was wind we were sailing. One passage we did 170 miles noon-to-noon the first day and 180 the second under triple reefed main and storm jib. We passed a big steel ketch under bare poles motoring on autopilot. They were rolling so bad we speculated they might capsize either direction The modern motor sailing concept of hundreds of miles under power was not a thing when most of our boats were built.
A week long ocean passage under sail for us used maybe 5 gallons of gas for battery charging.

Last edited by joe_db; 09-17-2019 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:32 AM
amizerin amizerin is offline
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Thanks all for responses and a lot of helpful information.

In continuation of the discussion, if I were to go to a long trip (couple months with non stop passages about a week or so) what Atomic 4 spare parts I MUST have on board?

I have electric ignition, oil filter, and salt water cooling.

Last edited by amizerin; 09-17-2019 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:27 AM
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Ask yourself "what failures will stop me cold?". When I approached it this way, I immediately got a spare starter. Some may get by with a starting crank, but my flywheel end of the engine is inaccessible.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:10 AM
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Water pump impellers.
All ignition parts - plugs, wires, coil, cap, rotor, and whatever you need to replace/swap points, condenser, or EI parts.
Alternator belt.
Carb rebuild kit.
I keep a spare alternator onboard and have had to use it.
I have a spare starter in my shed.
Fuel and oil filters.
Various hoses.
I would replace the hot section before a major trip if it was old.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:24 AM
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Uniformity can pay off here. If your cooling system is plumbed with one size hose, one size of spare hose covers everything, clamps too. Don't forget the little stuff like O rings, cotter pins.

Tools, tools, tools.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:46 AM
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I decided that if I could remove the part then I wanted a "plug and play" spare aboard. With the right tools, gaskets etc. This proved important when I was away from the highly traveled sections of the east coast.
The MC has a 35 gallon main tank and I carry 15 gallons in jugs on deck. With the adjustable main jet you can lean the mixture out and increase MPG. I also set the boat up so, single-handed, I could raise AND lower the head sail from the cockpit. This was very useful when traveling in the AICW and also extended my range.
The MC is equipped with a oil filter so I found that I could go beyond the 50 hr recommendation. As mentioned before you need to be prepared for multiple oil changes including something to store the old oil and filter in until you get to a place that will recycle it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:20 AM
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IMHO you can go WAY beyond 50 hours if the engine is in good shape and you have a filter. 50 hours could easily be once a week on a long trip!
If you are not getting water in the oil, not getting gas in the oil, filtering the oil, not running the oil so cold moisture doesn't boil off, and not running so hot the oil breaks down I would let it run 100 hours.
After 50 hours my oil looks brand new, YMMV. One of my earlier A4s did the oil in very quickly from blowby and water
* you can use an IR gun on the oil filter if you don't have an oil temperature gauge. You want it probably between about 160 and 220 F.

Last edited by joe_db; 09-17-2019 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:36 AM
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Our nine month trip down the ICW, over to the Bahamas, and back up the ICW was about 500 engine hours and ten oil & filter changes.
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