The essentials of yacht engines
Last updated: 24/01/2019
Engines can be referred to as the beating heart of any motoryacht; responsible for getting a vessel going and keep it running through ocean waters. Yachting Pages explores the essentials of yacht engines for crew wanting to work in the engine room or for general engine enthusiasts, with help from John Warren at Premier Separator Services and Jean-Francois Conso from CONSO - Engine Parts, Maintenance & Servicing.
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Yacht engines: Does size matter?
As can be safely assumed, an engine for a 40ft yacht is not going to be the same as that of a 40m superyacht in terms of size, weight, power or complexity.
While engines for smaller yachts are technical in themselves, superyacht engines in particular are “extremely complex”, as John from Premier Separator Services explains, “On board a superyacht you have so many systems other than the main engine, from the auxiliary equipment and generators, to the air conditioning and sewage plant. In principle, the main difference between a yacht and superyacht engine is size, but superyachts are so much more complex and very efficient if maintained properly.”
Types of yacht engine
As Jean-Francois Conso from CONSO points out, “There are many engines ranging from six cylinder to 16 cylinder. There are also many brands, from MAN and MTU to Cummins, Deutz, Cat and Baudoin; however the most popular are MTU and Cat. These tend to be seen on board yachts ranging from 80ft to 80m long.
In terms of fuel, diesel tends to be the preference for yacht and superyacht engines and as technology has evolved, so diesel has become cleaner and engines are able to produce more power without burning more fuel.
However, diesel is not without competition, as alternative fuels such as liquid natural gas (LNG) look to compete and provide a ‘cleaner’ fuel source for the future. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at our investigation into the benefits and drawbacks of LNG.
Keeping your yacht engine efficient
Of course, like any engine, maintenance is absolutely essential to keep a yacht engine running smoothly at full power. Jean-Francois recommends using your engine at 80% of its full power for optimum performance, and following all maintenance recommendations from professional engine service suppliers.
Take a look at our guide on how to get the most out of a yacht engine, for further guidance and tips on the best maintenance and protection for a yacht or superyacht engine.
The engine room
Yacht engine rooms have changed dramatically over time, and aren’t necessarily the dark, dingy environments of the past. Some engine rooms are now so bright and meticulously designed, that guests on board large and luxurious superyachts are taken down to the engine room for a tour.
As yacht crew, the size of the engine room you’re working in will vary depending on the vessel and the engine’s complexity, but nevertheless, stepping in for the first time can be quite overwhelming for crew.
As John points out, it’s important to ease yourself in by first getting the lay of the land and familiarising yourself with every inch of the engine room, “Get to know your engine room, trace out all pipelines, whether that’s fuel lines, ballast lines or fresh water lines.
“Get to know each bit of equipment and if in doubt contact the manufacturer and ask for some advice; don’t be afraid to ask.”
If you’re interested in how other engine rooms are laid out on board, take a look at our yacht engines playlist on YouTube.
Getting educated with yacht engines
If you’re yacht crew looking to move into engineering, the first level qualification you’ll need is the Approved Engine Course (AEC), known as the first level qualification, before progressing into gaining your Marine Engine Operator Licence (MEOL) and Yacht (Y4) certificate of competency.
Get more guidance on becoming a superyacht engineer with our guides on engineering training courses.
Search for engine service suppliers on Yachtingpages.com.