ome years ago I was invited to give a talk to a yacht club about marine engines. I decided to discuss oil analysis, and prepared what I thought was one of my better presentations.
Unfortunately, about half of the audience disagreed. Not more than five minutes into my talk, the look of boredom on their faces was unmistakable; ten minutes in, twitching and ceiling-gazing confirmed that I had seriously miscalculated. Any doubt about the general interest level was erased by the salty character seated directly in front of me whose booming snores nearly drowned out my words.
Yet after the ordeal had finally ended, a large number of the audience came forward to ask questions and even to express their appreciation. That pretty much defines the subject of oil analysis for boaters: For many, the subject is at best of passing interest and at worst an arcane oddity. But many serious boaters consider it an interesting technology that can be a meaningful part of their maintenance regimen. If you fall into the first category, read on at your risk but please don’t snore.
The proper term for this process is spectographic oil analysis, and it’s surprisingly simple: A technician burns a representative sample of lubricating oil in the presence of a device—an emission spectrograph—that analyzes the color of the flame and determines what’s in the sample. Since every element leaves a unique spectrographic signature when it’s burned, the machine can tell with great accuracy not only what’s present but in what quantity.
The “what” here can be anything from metal to fuel to coolant. Clearly if your test comes back indicating the presence of fuel or coolant, your engine’s got a big problem. In the former case, fuel is not being burned in the combustion chamber and is seeping past piston rings into the lubricating oil, where it’s diluting it and reducing its effectiveness. In the latter case, you’ve probably either got a cracked block or a blown head gasket. Both conditions are potentially catastrophic and need immediate attention.
The presence of metals is typically a more subtle indicator. Technicians divide the metals category into those derived from additives, contaminants, and wear. Additive metals are actually part of the lubricating oil, so their presence and concentration indicates the effectiveness of the oil and whether the proper weight and grade is being used. Wear metals are derived from engine components—things like bearings, piston rings, valves, and so on. Contaminant metals are neither of the previous two but rather foreign matter that has somehow found its way into your engine, perhaps by a faulty air-intake system or leaking gasket.
The key here is that the presence of any wear metal can be traced pretty accurately to a specific engine component. For instance, oil analysis revealing the presence of lead points directly to bearing wear. Indeed, because bearings are typically made of layers of different metals, it can indicate the degree of bearing wear.
The best part: This information comes cheap. If you take your own oil sample, which is easy to do thanks to the kits supplied by most labs, you can mail it in and get comprehensive results, often along with diagnoses and suggestions for remediation, by return mail for around $30. But even if you turn the whole thing over to your mechanic or boatyard, you should end up paying no more than $100 per sample. When you consider what you’d pay a mechanic to give your engine or marine gear a diagnostic check-up, that’s a real bargain.
But there is a catch. Oil analysis does a great job of alerting you to serious mechanical maladies, but for most of us, its real value will be indicating trends: alerting us to components that are approaching the end of their lives, as opposed to having already failed. To provide this early warning you’ll need a series of readings that can indicate anomalies in wear patterns. In other words, you’ll need to send in periodic oil samplings for analysis. For the average boater this probably means every 100 hours or annually.
Although the process of taking the sample is simple, there are a few things to keep in mind, whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it. Always take a sample from a warm engine so the oil has been thoroughly circulated. Don’t take a sample right after an oil change or the addition of oil; wait at least ten engine hours. Clean the area from which you are taking the sample to avoid contamination from exterior dirt and grime. And don’t take the sample as part of an oil change, even though it’s easier and cheaper. The oil is probably at the end of its useful life. Instead take your sample roughly midway between oil changes.
If you and your boat are in it for the long haul together, oil analysis is a little expense and bother that returns big dividends—even if it’s not terribly exciting to listen to someone talk about.
For the recreational boat industry, 2013 has been a tale of two seasons — the wet spring, when sales ran disappointingly behind the encouraging pace of a year earlier — and the bright summer, when the sun came out and builders and dealers shot past their 2012 marks.
Americans were ready to buy once June melted into July and third-quarter figures from Statistical Surveys that cover 47 states, or 96 percent of the industry, illustrate the strength of the summer quarter: Sales in the main powerboat segments were up 13.8 percent, or 4,315 boats, to 35,580, from the same quarter last year, and industrywide sales rose 12 percent, or 6,484 boats, to 60,469.
“This reiterates what we’ve been seeing in the monthly data,” said Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe, referring to the trends that July, August and September reports from early-reporting states were revealing.
The robust summer quarter pushed 2013 sales ahead of their 2012 pace. Through September, the industry had sold 181,625 boats, 2,098 more than the 179,527 that customers had bought at the same time last year.
Kloppe said he thinks the industry will continue to show moderate growth as the year ends and finish with higher sales than it did in 2012. Industrywide sales totaled 202,403 last year, topping 200,000 for the first time since 2009 as builders and dealers began to recover from the Great Recession.
“With the slow [spring] season we had, to get this kind of growth is positive for the industry — to finish positive,” he said.
During the rainy and chilly second quarter, sales were up a modest 3.7 percent in the main segments, which include aluminum fishing and pontoon boats and fiberglass boats ranging from bowriders to large yachts, and they were 1.8 percent lower across the industry.
The figures from both quarters were for all states except Illinois, which is not included because of data entry delays, and Hawaii and Maine, where data are only available annually.
The aluminum pontoon category was the top third-quarter performer among the main segments’ highest-volume groups, gaining 19.6 percent, or 1,763 boats, to 10,770, and 11- to 40-foot fiberglass outboards were close behind with a gain of 18 percent, or 1,590 boats, to 10,427. Both categories have been steady gainers as the industry rallied from the recession, as has the aluminum fishing boat segment, where sales climbed by 1,100 boats, or 13.2 percent, to 9,431.
Through September, the industry had sold 34,749 pontoons, 3,395 more than the 31,354 a year earlier, and it had sold 33,070 small to medium-size fiberglass outboards, 2,332 more than the 30,738 that were sold at the same time last year. Aluminum fishing boat sales totaled 33,215, 1,087 more than the 32,118 reported last year.
Two of the three big-boat categories, whose totals are often incomplete on monthly reports because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard, had a solid third quarter. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers were up by 61 boats to 342 and sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts climbed by 64 to 244.
Personal watercraft and ski boats, both traditionally strong summer sellers, posted double-digit gains for the quarter. PWC sales were up 15.4 percent, or 2,060 units, to 15,467, and ski-boat sales rose by 21.2 percent, or 338 boats, to 1,929.
Sales of jetboats were down 28.5 percent to 909, reflecting the loss of Sea-Doo, which withdrew from the market. Sales are expected to rebound next year once jetboats from Four Winns, Glastron and Chaparral enter the segment.
While there have been bigger marlin landed commercially and by recreational anglers not in accordance with IGFA rules, pictured below are the leading big fish, officially speaking. These are the certified all-tackle world records for black, Atlantic and Pacific blue, striped and white marlin. They represent the ultimate benchmarks for anglers chasing the world’s biggest fish.
Special thanks to the IGFA for providing the photos. For more information on fishing for world-class marlin, check out the links at the bottom of the page.
Weight: 1,560 pounds
Angler: Alfred Glassell Jr.
Location: Cabo Blanco, Peru
Date: Aug. 4, 1953
Notes: Glassell Jr. of Houston boated this behemoth after a 1 hour and 45 minute fight. The 174-inch fish fell for a mackerel trolled in the once-legendary Black Marlin Boulevard off Cabo Blanco.
Pacific Blue Marlin
Weight: 1,376 pounds
Angler: Jay de Beaubien
Location: Kaaiwai Point, Kona
Date: May 31, 1982
Notes: This Hawaiian blue took a Kita lure and succumbed in less than one hour. Jay de Beaubien caught this 193-inch fish using a Fin-Nor 12/0.
Atlantic Blue Marlin
Weight: 1,402 pounds, 2 ounces
Angler: Paulo Amorim
Location: Vitoria, Brazil
Date: Feb. 29, 1992
Notes: Amorim’s 162-inch fish ate a pink-and-white Mold Craft Super Chugger and is the most recent record-breaker on our list. (Big photo is a replica mount)
Weight: 494 pounds
Angler: Bill Boniface
Location: Tutukaka, New Zealand
Date: January 16, 1986
Notes: Boniface, a New Zealand native, fed this once-in-a-lifetime fish a kahawai.
Weight: 181 pounds, 14 ounces
Angler: Evandro Coser
Location: Vitoria, Brazil
Date: Dec. 8, 1979
Notes: Coser (of Brazil) trolled dead bait to land this 107.5-inch fish.
For More Information
The Blue Marlin List
A comprehensive list of the baits and lures used to catch record blue marlin
Video: Better Than a World Record
An angler gives up a potential record to tag a monster black
The World’s Best Grander Spots
Six (and then some) of the top places to pursue big marlin
Below decks, a three-stateroom layout includes a full beam master stateroom enjoying those S CLASS angled hull windows and a new take on interior design and finish. Princess’s Director of Creative Design, Sarah Verey, has put together an exclusive range of materials, furniture, and detailing for S CLASS. “We have delivered a next generation interior for a next generation Princess. Across the S72 you will see a completely new level of finish, with bespoke contemporary furniture and textured silk paneling mixing with polished steel and Macassar Ebony. Black, silver, and white finishes lend a fresh modernity to the interior, whilst our strong British heritage is retained through classically toned leathers and herringbone linings.” The interior cabinetry will now be offered in optional Rovere Oak and American Walnut, as well as the standard Light Oak and Serotina Cherry.
With the first S72 bound for display by Princess Yachts America in Miami in February, hull #2 is already in production. In addition, a new S80 is scheduled for launch in 2015, with two more S CLASS models planned.
Major Price Reduction $129,900.00
Strong winds and persistent rain were no match for the drama and enthusiasm last Friday when the deckhouse mold for the new Viking 92 Convertible was pulled from the plug.
Once the plug and deckhouse mold were removed from Building 5, a 35 ton and a 350 ton crane went to work lifting the 64,000 pound mold.
When the deckhouse mold was clear, the plug was pushed back into the building.
Cranes raise the deckhouse mold high in the air in order to provide clearance for the next step.
The excitement ramps up as the cranes work slowly in tandem to gently turn the deckhouse mold upright.
Viking 92101 delivers in nine months!