diy-electrical-diesel-largeWith the trend to larger boats and the continued strong market in Canada, many boat buyers will be cruising the shows this winter, looking at diesel-powered boats.

Diesel power costs more initially. Is diesel worth it to you? Or, should you stay with familiar and less expensive gasoline engines of the same horsepower?

For those with no direct diesel experience – or who remember the old-style diesel bus engines that would belch black smoke, let's talk about some of the changes and the advantages diesel has compared to gasoline engines.

New diesels almost all feature turbo-charging, after-cooling and the dramatic effects of the new electronic engine controls.

Diesel engines are particularly well suited to marine use because they generate higher levels of torque. Torque is desirable because generally speaking, a larger propeller moving more slowly through the water has greater efficiency. But, turning that larger propeller at slow speeds requires torque that is a measure of the engines "twisting" power. Horsepower is another measurement and it is important too, but it is torque that gets the boat up on plane and holds a speed.

The gasoline engine in your car may only need to produce (anywhere near) maximum horsepower when you're accelerating. As soon as you reach highway speeds, you throttle back and cruise. Many cars need only 40 or 50 hp to maintain highway speeds. Boats are different. The engine is under continuous load and if you throttle back, the boat will slow down.

370 hp gas engines produce maximum power high on its rev range as high as 4,800 rpm maximum speed. The "duty cycle" is often 75% or less of maximum speed or in this case, under 3,600 rpm. At that speed, you may only be producing 260 hp and a fairly low level of torque.

That may be OK depending on the boat's design, your load, weather and many other factors but if you are running continuously at more than the duty cycle levels, you are wearing the engine prematurely and probably wasting a lot of fuel too.

Danny Fong at Inmar, the new Ontario distributors for Yanmar diesels explained that the torque a diesel develops, relates to its compression ratio. Gasoline engines, sometimes referred to as a spark ignition engine, "suck" the incoming charge of air and fuel into the combustion chamber as it turns. Typically, this fuel/air mixture is compressed at the ratio of 9:1 while the fuel/air mixture in a diesel is over 20:1 compression.

This results in a bigger explosion driving the piston down with significantly greater force and that translates into higher torque.

The greater force of the explosion however, demands more rugged construction. That costs money. Then, to reach the high compression ratio, the diesel engine has an exhaust gas driven turbocharger. As the engine speed rises, exhaust gas flows past the veins of a small turbine, spinning it up to a high speed where it's used to drive larger volumes of their into the intake side of the diesel to boost the compression ratio.

Computer engine controls manage this whole process, resulting in a cleaner running engine; one that starts easily, runs without smoke and has low emissions.

As an example, a new 370 hp Yanmar diesel may rev to 3,600 rpm maximum but it is designed to run at a continuous 3,200 rpm, producing significantly more torque than the comparable 370 hp gas engine.

We spoke to Tom Watson, at Yanmar's head office in the United States. He stressed that it was the continuous output of the engine that was more important than just the horsepower rating.

The engine's lifespan relates to wear and that relates to the number of times the pistons go up and down as well as how heavily built the engine is. More rpm's equals more wear. The diesel costs more but is made to run harder and is built to last longer. You may get much of the initial investment back if you trade the boat after a few years. If you keep it longer, the diesel's greater fuel economy may make it the better value.

Then again, if you don't pile on the hours and keep your boat a long time, the cost of diesels may never be justified. Gas is still a great choice assuming you can get the right power for the boat and load.

Talk to your dealer – they know best but there may be a diesel in your future!

Lifestyle

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Cobourg Yacht Club - 2015 Sailing instructorsKatherine Stone

Like many other harbours on Lake Ontario, Cobourg has seen its fair share of changes. Screams used to be heard from kids piled into a toboggan on wheels that went hurtling down a wooden slide into the harbour. Above it all was the bustling din from the waterfront of ship’s whistles, train engines, foghorns and thundering coal cars. It is now a rather serene place for the locals and visitors to enjoy various watercraft. Fortunately, the beautiful beach that lines the waterfront is still a star attraction for the town.

Located 95 kilometres east of Toronto and 62 kilometres east of Oshawa on the north edge of Lake Ontario, United Empire Loyalists first starting arriving in the area as early as the 1780s. The first settlement in 1798 was called Buckville, later renamed Amherst, then called Hamilton (after the township) and also nicknamed Hardscrabble. It wasn’t until 1819 that they finally settled on the name of Cobourg, which was incorporated as a town in 1837. In the late 1820s large schooners with passengers and cargo had to anchor well off shore, as there was only a landing wharf. A group of Toronto businessmen formed the Cobourg Harbour Company which built the wooden Eastern Pier from tolls charged for the use of the harbour.

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Boat Reviews

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CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

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Beneteau Oceanis 30.1As boat builders clamber to create ever-bigger platforms for ever-more generous budgets, the entry-level cruiser has become an elusive animal. Sure, if you want to daysail, there are plenty of small open boats from which to choose, but if you want a freshly built pocket cruiser, you’re in for a long search. Enter French builder Groupe Beneteau, which identified this gap in the market and set about creating the Oceanis 30.1, an adorable little cruiser that resembles her larger siblings in all but length and price. With all she offers, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her a mini yacht.

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Destinations

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KingstonBy Amy Hogue

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is the place to go if you love to explore new waterways, fantastic views, and exceptional boating opportunities.

Sitting at the intersection of three world-class Canadian bodies of water, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal (Cataraqui River from Kingston to Newboro), the water’s influence is deeply woven into Kingston’s culture and history. 

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