Today did the RYA Diesel Engine Course. Ok its not actually sailing but for yachting its a pretty vital skill to know. Too often something goes wrong with the old donkey and usually when you least want it. Such as when just coming into the marina or in fog in a narrow channel.
And very interesting it was too. What I liked was how we were given a guided tour of all the key components (fuel, cooling, etc) and had a engine in the classroom we could take apart and practice replacing the impeller. Particularly good were the test scenarios used to examine whether we paid attention. So you are motoring along and the engine starts overheating: what could be possible causes and where should you start looking?
What was less realistic was the engine wasn't as is usually the case on charter boats hidden away in an inaccessible space with bolts welded tight, no instructions, minimal lighting, and subject to the rocking motion of a boat at sea. I guess that's hard to arrange in a sailing club-house!
Strongly recommend the course to anyone thinking of doing a spot of yachting.
Also you might be interested in this article in the FT about the love-hate relationship between sailors and their engines. As the article ends up saying: "We should sail our sailing boats whenever we can. Otherwise, we might just as well buy motorboats and admit we were closet Hullabaloos all along."
Hullabaloos are of course the noisy stinkpots that made life so hard for the sailors of Arthur Ransome's Coot Club.