Fixing an overheated engine on a remote tropical island

The great thing (one of the many) about travelling on your own boat is that you can get access to the least visited and most remote areas of this glorious blue planet. The Anambas archipelago, in the South China Sea between Borneo and mainland Malaysia, is one of those places.

We came here in 2017 (some of you may remember) and we’re thrilled to be going back again on our eastbound trip towards Japan. We wonder how much it has changed?

At Pedang Malang beach on Jemaja, one of our all-time favourite anchorages, we dropped the hook. It’s not necessarily the most remote island in the group (the airport is now finished since we were last there) but it’s still beautiful and bathes the visitor in a warm local welcome.

The two mile white beach stretches towards uninterrupted views of distant rain forests. Hills shimmer on the horizon. There are no hotels or resorts here.

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We stayed for days, enjoying the snorkelling and taking the oldest scooters in the world through the island’s interior. We were reluctant to leave because we needed to check in at Tarempa, the capital of these islands. Eventually, as we waved goodbye, we weighed anchor in 6m of water on firm sand.

But Esper’s engine temperature began to soar almost immediately, so we turned it off and re-anchored, sharpish. Now what?

What would you do in this situation?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for joining our adventure.

Peace and fair winds
Liz, Jamie and Millie ❤️


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4 Comments on “Fixing an overheated engine on a remote tropical island”

  1. Well first thing is say F-ck it, have a beer let the mptor cool down then start from intake if the motor is seawater cooled or the heat exchanger if fresh water cooled. Well depending on the condition of the impeller.
    The iron sail a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

  2. Hi. The 1st time we left Majuro for Mexico we turned around just outside the pass with Perkins 4-236 overheat. Flushed fresh water system. Removed heat exchanger, cleaned it out physically and chemically with vinegar.. Deposits restricting entrance to exhaust cooler and elbow water injection to exhaust were cleaned out. Raw water pump checked. After all that Apolima was good to go. Next time we left we got as far as Wake Island when autopilot quit and hydraulic steering failed. Luckily she was equipped with a sturdy emergency tiller, that we dubbed “Rusty” which got us back to Majuro. Try again next year.

  3. Hi Liz and Jamie
    I apologise for writing to you as Im not a sailor but I have been searching for info on Jemaja Island
    for years, on and off, and now I have photos!!! Thank you.
    My interest lies in my father being in a RAF plane crash purported to be near there 31/8/1950. The plane contained three RAF crews who all died, presumed missing, only an Army colonel passenger in the tail of the plane was picked up by a fishing boat i believe. I wonder in your travels and diving if you ever came across a plane wreck. According to the RAF it was 04 20’N 104 58’E
    My Mother, in Singapore, contacted Red Cross and everywhere she could in the hope that he would be found. I have been in 2009 to the Memorial In Malacca, only finding out about that by pure luck!
    What a wonderful life you have, Stay safe.

    1. Gosh, no, never came across a wreck, what a sad time for your lovely mum. If we go back again I’ll check out those co-ordinates, but when I plot them on a chart the position seems a long way north west of Anambas. Have you got them right?
      Peace and fair winds,

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