The generation game: Protecting your yacht generator
As we all know, the marine environment is one of the most unforgiving settings for equipment and superyacht generators are no different. More often than not, generators are left untouched in the corner of the engine room, only maintained or checked when its service is due or if there’s a problem.
Remember though, a generator is one of the most important pieces to a yacht's puzzle, as without a working power source, owners, guests and crew can be left without air conditioning, electronics, galley equipment and more. Below are some helpful tips on maintaining your yacht's generator and ensuring you’re never without power.
Switching to shore power wherever possible
Connecting up to shoreside power is a must for any superyacht when it is berthed in a marina. This can allow the generator to rest, adding days, weeks and even months onto its lifespan. It’s a much more cost-effective and eco-friendly solution to powering your yacht.
However, shoreside power isn’t as simple as just connecting up a cable, certain considerations need to be taken into account in order to run equipment at optimal performance and not harm any systems.
Preparing the generator pre departure
It’s recommended that you should follow these steps before setting sail on a cruise, ensuring that the generator is properly prepared for the trip ahead.
Standard checks at least one week before departure
Make sure you review your operations manual at least one week before the yacht departs and perform all required actions, such as oil and filters changes. Be prepared though as in peak seasons, service centres may require a few days wait until a technician is available. It’s advisable to:
- Check the battery is fully charged
- Inspect and tighten all hose clamps and fittings
- Replace all fluid levels with the required amount
- Start the generator and inspect it for leaks or strange noises
- Ensure the area is properly ventilated and the generator is fully cleaned before departure
- Attempt to start and stop the generator from all required control panels
- Turn on all loads expected to be operated during trip and leave for a few minutes (make sure not to overload the generator)
- Read the operators manual to identify possible necessary spare parts and purchase in advance
Every day maintenance during travel
There are a few steps, which should be taken to ensure the yacht generator will stay in prime condition during its time at sea.
- Inspect the area where the generator is located and make sure nothing has been moved or is out-of-place; this could lead to damage or blockages
- Regularly check belt tension, oil level, coolant level and the primary filter
- Inspect the generator sets, fluid levels and check for leaks
- Clear seawater strainers of debris, and don’t wait until they clog
If you discover a problem, perform any required maintenance as soon as possible – the last thing you want is a generator failure whilst out at sea.
Generator repairs and spare parts
It’s advisable to carry extra items and parts for the cruise; items will depend on how long the journey is for, and the location of service centres.
Having spare parts on hand can save time if you can fit the component yourself, or even if you have to call upon an engineer, the part will be readily available and make life much easier, allowing a much quicker fix.
Suggested spare parts kit:
Below are some suggested items, which will be well worth having on board.
- Primary and secondary fuel filter elements
- Oil filters
- Air filter
- Thermostat and gaskets
- Seawater pumps
- Spare plugs (spark/glow)
- Fuel lift pump
Even with spare parts on board, a generator can fail at any time; ensure you use Yachtingpages.com to find local service centres at or near your location if unexpected parts or services are required.
Preparing a generator set for storage
If the generator set is due to go into storage, it’s a good idea to do a few checks and actions beforehand. These include:
- Wipe, clean, and lightly oil any parts that could rust
- Drain water lift muffler
- Remove raw water impeller and store in cool dry place
- Drain the oil and replace with new if necessary
- Disconnect and store the battery as per the manufacturer's guidelines
- Touch up and repair any paint chips or scrapes
- Check that the storage temperature is OK for the coolant