Check your oil to prevent costly repairs

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By Burrage Warner

Many years ago during a trip to the Bahamas in a 30-foot Pearson sloop powered by a gasoline engine, we got caught up in the winds of Hurricane Agnes. We spent 10 days holed up at Boot Key Marina in Marathon, Florida, while the hurricane ravaged the Keys on both sides of us. Fortunately, we escaped damage and spent the next four weeks cruising the Bahamas.

As we started down the Intracoastal Waterway from Marathon to Miami, the engine began running rough. I checked the oil at the end of the day’s run and discovered a milky emulsion of oil and water covering the dipstick. Horrified, I quickly changed the oil, but the damage was done. I’d checked the oil every morning, and it always looked clean; however, I’d failed to check it in the evenings.

We had no doubt picked up a lot of condensation during our layover, which had caused the problem. If I’d bothered to check the engine oil in the evenings after the hurricane, I might have been saved some expensive engine repairs.

Lesson learned: Checking your oil before and after a day’s run could prevent expensive repairs and much aggravation.