jason wynn working on sailboat engine

Oh Ship! There Goes The Engine (& Lessons In Anxiety)

There’s nothing like a rough anchorage to move a sailor along.

Our beautiful paradise has turned on us and the weather predictions aren’t looking pretty for the days ahead.  So, we wipe the sand from our weary eyes and prepare to move from one tiny spec of land to another.

Tikehau to Rangiroa is only 45 nautical miles away. But, as the title gives away, our seemingly simple day of sailing doesn’t go as planned.



Another day lived and a couple more lessons learned:  1) Carry a spare starter if your engine is over ten years old, and 2) Anxiety is useless.  Don’t you know we have ten impellers, fuel filters, belts, seals, gaskets, fluids, wires, fuses and all sorts of hoses…but no spare starter.  Because the thing that fails will always be the spare you don’t have.


Anxiety is Useless

Now, about that anxiety.  I was crazy nervous about all these passes.  I had let all the cautionary tales of sailboats lost to the Tuamotus plant all kinds of doubt and fear in my mind.

Fear that I wasn’t capable of navigating these passes. Fear that I would screw it up and need to be rescued off a reef.  Fear that my lack of experience and stubborn drive had teamed up against me and now I would be the tragic news story everyone is picking away at on social media like a flock of starving vultures.  Ahhhh!  (grabs head to stop it from spinning)

sailboat washed up on reef in tuamotu

It’s important to understand what we’re up against.  But it’s also important to trust in ourselves.

It’s kind of like reading the labels for medication.  Something as simple as ibuprofen sounds awful.

Allergy alert:  Ibuprofen may cause a severe allergic reaction, especially in people allergic to aspirin.  Symptoms may include: shock, skin reddening, rash, blister, hives, facial swelling, asthma.
Stomach bleeding warning:  This product contains a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which may cause stomach bleeding.

And that’s just a tiny snippet of the FDA Drug Fact Label.  We know the risks and yet most of us still take the medication.  Because we know the chances of relief are high and the risk of complication is low.

Researching sailing destinations can feel a lot like reading the drug warning labels and then choosing to go for it anyway.

But here’s the thing, hundreds of sailors from around the world have made it safely in and out of these passes every year.  I know that and yet, I let anxiety creep in and make my day far more stressful than it needed to be.  Silly me.

Now that we have a couple of these Tuamotu passes behind us, I can say to myself and anyone else feeling a tad nervous…

Read the full label, head the warnings, then relax, plan accordingly and trust your abilities.



Sharing this lifestyle and what we learn along the way is possible because of viewers like you.  If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.  Thank you for being a part of the journey.

⛽Cool electric fuel pump:



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Sailing Curiosity Tuamotu map

  • Nautical Miles Sailed:  45
  • Date:  March 2019

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (48)

  • gerri

    what a way to go! MR FIX IT on the high seas and dives right into the starter repair…BTW stay away from a running engine esp trying to switch a starter.not a good idea since you got a backup engine to get you to port ………………. and some WD40 or croucus cloth in the kit would be a asset in cleaning terminals and preventing corrosion ………………a real MACGUYVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John Johnson

    Hey ya’ll….. John Johnson from South Carolina, I would love to watch a you tube video of how you are able to make an income while living the nomadic lifestyle starting from your time in the RV to now while sailing the world. I have watched your videos going back to shopping for your boat, to buying it, to taking your sailing lessons. The whole time I kept asking myself…. how do they afford it?? I am living my dream life thru you two. I envy you both so much. Keep traveling and keep posting videos. Love you guys

  • Michael

    Brad Beck is correct. Take the starter off the engine that is running, place it on the one that isn’t, then start it. Two benefits; each engine has equal running time and both are there when you need them. Just be careful about the loose battery cable and starter wires while disconnected. Tape them or wrap them in a towel or something.

    Also, Ernest Jand is also correct. Don’t hit the starter of that type.

    There are two things to remember in taking starters apart. If it has brushes, they will drop into the insides when the rotor is pulled out. If the starter is overheated or dragging and has a lot of dirt accumulation, clean out those bearings with some WD40 or similar, then add some new grease before reassembly.

    Please remember to hook it to a battery to see if it turns before going to all the trouble of bolting it into place. Even a spare should be checked.

    If the starters are rebuildable by the user, then a kit would be nice to have. But the rotor’s commutator section may need special machining, so that may not be possible.

    Bottom line, there is no substitute for a spare.

    Oh, and could there have been a worse location for the fuel tank fill? You would be dead in the water with a following sea in a storm. Move that fill location under shelter at the earliest opportunity.

    (I’ll bet you wish you had all electric drive with a simple gen-set for emergencies.)

  • Bob and Arleen Willis

    HI Nikki and Jason,
    Another great update! The two of you persevere and learn through trial and tribulation and always still tackle everything as it is thrown at you and come out good. Sorry to take this way off topic but wanted to send some love your way as sometimes in the course of things it is good to know maybe. We have been following your adventure now for about the last 5 years since we started planning our retirement (early we had hoped but life intervened ) and first stumbled on your videos by accident. Since then you taught us so much all the while entertaining us immensely for which we will be eternally grateful!!! My wife Arleen came across an ad for what Volkswagen was proposing to bring back as the VW camper bus and she went nuts over it thinking we could sell our house travel all over yada, yada, yada. Well that was then. We quickly became fully drawn into the modern day RV world. That is where you come in. The whole YouTube generation was new to us other than Music videos! lol. Our dream has evolved from Class C to class A and back again. We went to many shows and RV dealers when we lived in SoCal and had thought we had settled on a Thor Hurricane. Well fate took us in another direction and we ended up in Wisconsin of all places. 20 below zero winters but wonderful summers. Which brings is to tell you we di it! We actually bought a Coachmen Freedom Express Travel Trailer. NOT what we had been thinking of from the beginning but determined for us it was the best choice for budget and life style. Our retirement was delayed but not far off and still earlier than some. Long way around but we wanted to say we jumped in fearless and confident thanks to the two of you and your selfless sharing and entertaining documentation of your lives. We love our RV! We miss your RV adventures but love you jumping in, starting from scratch sailing life now. Thank you for sharing! Stay safe and Mahalo!

  • Kevin Birnbaum

    Hi guys, just wanted to check in as this past week was the worst week I have ever had.Last week my little girl(cat)Mouse was showing signs of having some serious medical condition.I rushed her in to her vet and after full lab work and multiple X-rays we found out that she had a large tumor on her Gallbladder,2 additional smaller tumor looking masses inside her, her Kidney function was deteriorating and her Arthritis had spread into her hips.When I saw the X-rays I just started crying as the vet said that not only was there nothing she could do(I was welcome to take her to the nearest specialty animal hospital 45 mins away for a second opinion)and that she thought that Mouse had cancer.I instantly felt empty inside as I knew that I was about to lose from my life not only my best friend, but the most pure, true example I have ever had in my life of true, real unconditional love I have ever experienced.She told me that it was probably time to let Mouse go be with the cat angels.So I let her go as I held her in my arms as she took her last breath as my tears ran down on her face.She represented love to me in my life and I share this with you because you both appear to me to be very loving cat parents with Singa and Cleo who I see is 18.Mouse was 19(almost 20 years old) so even though she had a good life,I tried my best to give her the most loving home I could and I will carry her memory, beauty and love with me for the rest of my life nothing prepared me for the deepest pain I have ever felt in losing her.Love and cherish them(especially Cleo being 18)every moment as I see you do.I had her cremated and part of her ashes were put into a beautiful small pendant with paw prints of course as I always told her that when her time did come that I wanted her to travel the world with me which she now will.Aside from that this was a truly unique video.I’m amazed at your videography and editing skills.You truly bring the sailing experience in Hi Def to all us land lubbers.Thank you for that and I hope all is well.As always, looking forward to more of your travel adventures,Kevin B

    • Curious Minion

      Oh no! So sorry to hear about your fur baby. Sending love!
      Curious Minion

  • Mary

    I was a little nervous for you guys. Glad the sea calmed as you were entering your destination. Especially after seeing that boat dry docked.

    So many challenges to overcome! This time Jason had the positive attitude, and its usually you Nikki! You guys complement each other well!

    The opening shots were stunning! I’m wondering how high the drone had to fly to get that beautiful shot with all the little islands. Nicely done!

  • Ydion

    I love watching your videos – beautiful images. Thanks for sharing !
    Jason: for fuel transfer, check this out – it works like a CHARM and it’s very easy to start ! Podoy Gas siphon, 3/4″
    No batteries required !

  • Sam

    Thanks for taking us with you on another amazing adventure and sharing the challenges and your insights along the way.
    I want to applaud Jason for his mechanical efforts in though conditions and to agree with him on the miserable design of modern fuel cans. I understand his misery pouring fuel from one of these cans and would like to offer a cheap, easy and effective alternative to the electric pump he is eyeing – a “Ball” or “Rattle” siphon
    I’ve used one for years and it’s fast and tidy with no electric required. Watch one of the online demonstrations and I bet you’ll agree. I would have one for fuel and one for water (well marked) since you occasionally top up your H2O tanks from cans.
    Smooth sailing.

  • Emily Talbot-Guillote

    After hearing about y’all from Gary Fitzsimmons (Roanoke VA)! I’m hoping you’ll somehow meet my dear John Guillote and his wife Becca. They’ve been at Tikihau, but will leave this week for Hau as they make their way on “Halcyon” to The Marquesas. Maybe you’ll be doing the same? They – like y’all – are lovely, lively, intelligent folk! Tell ‘me hello & Godspeed from the head of their fan club!

    • Curious Minion

      Welcome aboard! That would be fantastic, but this episode was filmed in March and Nikki and Jason aren’t in French Polynesia anymore. Hope your friends have a blast though!
      Curious Minion

  • Pam McClure

    Phew…that was edgie. You did great. And I too liked the way you set it all up with the drone shots leading into the start of a scary day.

    • Steve Nicholls

      Edgie is right! But Singa and Cleo are good. Oh, and those other ones, too!

  • Lauren

    You guys are AmaZing! I’m in the middle ( supposed to be nearing the END) of a Tiny Home on Wheels build. It’s one thing after another it seems these days. So many systems to master and get installed! I read about your starter going & I just had to donate! Wish it could be more ’cause you’re so inspirational! Thank you for the WISE words on Anxiety. I”ll look forward to grabbing some cool ( great designs!) swag next time around. Stay Sane! 🙂

  • Dave C.

    Nikki…. sorry for the misspelling.

  • Dave C.

    Hi Jason and Nicki, Absolutely love your videos- superb quality, well shot and composed, and super story telling as you go along. Always look forward to them. Have watched since your early MH days. Thanks for all you do! Now, in the interest of being able to watch you successfully continue to do this please consider being just a bit more cautious when working underway with regard to pfd’s and safety tethers! Watching Jason juggle a five gallon jug of diesel, back by the sugar scoop, unsecured, with even moderate seas made me quite uncomfortable. While not a having a lot of sailing experience, did spend half my pre retirement career as a marine biologist/diver so have lots and lots of boat time experience in all sizes from 13 ft. to 65 ft. Seas are unpredictable and ever changing… and that diesel container would make a lousy pfd…:-). You were there, I wasn’t, so please accept this as a concerned constructive suggestion. Perhaps the fact that the second half of my pre retirement career was as the University’s Health and Safety Director, will help you understand my bias toward caution and concern for your welfare… :-).

  • Jeff

    Hope your starter is there waiting for you. Great watching you two and the adventures that you are having. Be safe and enjoy!

  • Steve Nicholls

    I just love watching what you two (and the cats!) post. it’s exciting, it’s outside of my life experience! But my cat did some amazing stuff, too! (Fool crashed off the roof, torn abdomen, visit to the the vet, “Sorry sir, but…” DANG! Goodbye you fabulous little friend. Bummer, man. Still, that’s life, right? So you four keep posting good stuff, ok?

  • Linda jones

    Thanks for keeping us engaged with your travel and world wonders, even when it appears that you don’t have time due to the difficulties of defying nature. Truly beautiful memoirs. Amazing, actually. I wish you Godspeed.

    Well I guess getting stuck in Tahiti for a few weeks isn’t quite as bad as us in Sacramento🙄🤗heehee

  • Alan Solomon

    In that opening still shot Jason, your arms and shoulders look like they are getting bigger. Life at sea will make you grow in more ways than one.

    Great job getting through with the one engine. Those seas did look difficult and angry to boot. You both have become so mechanically handy since your RV days. Seasoned sailing On Board Curiosity.

    Safe travels,

  • Sandra & the 2 Spaniels

    I really enjoyed this video: the sea is just awesome. And please thank your relief announcer, Singa, for the play by play action!

  • Jim

    Great video again. I think you need a JD Tractor engine for that vessel. Sail on! Thank you.. Thanks for showing the cats good to see they are both Okay.

  • Brenda

    Great job getting through! I was a little stressed for you. Do you ever feel the need to wear lifejackets when the sea is rough? Watching Jason hop around while the boat was bouncing made me nervous! Or have either of you ever fallen overboard and you’ve had to turn back to pick up? Maybe that’s an ignorant question–I know nothing about sailing! Just curious!

  • Connie

    Echoing Pat: do you ever tie the kitties down or lock them up in rough seas? Not to mention Jason hanging out there pouring gas in those waves.
    You two are fearless!!

  • Peter

    I take my hat off to you Jason , for tackling all those mechanical issues that pop up , and not just saying , leave it till we get to a port and buy another one , a big “A” for effort there , I know how frustrating mechanical stuff can be , so well done for trying ….
    Love your Videos,

  • tom tordel jr

    as was said above don’t use brogan maintenance on the starter. the carbon is the remains of the brushes that it seems you never got the starter dissembled far enough to get at. but, by now, alls well,,,,,,


    Just HOW does one obtain the starter and then send it to Rangiroa?

      • Mike Duvall

        If you can find a automotive shop in the islands. they may be able to rebuild or fix your starter. If it was mine I would take the starter appart and see if I could figure out what is causing the it to fail. It could be just corroded contacts considering the it is located in the bottom of a sail boat. Good luck.

  • Pat

    Curious to know if you harness or corral the cats at all when seas are rough?

  • Bernie Vielwerth

    You made it as usual, bravo

  • Roger B

    I was really nervous watching this video with your engine challenges and hoping for your safe passage without any other challenges.

  • PAt

    As always great way to start Sunday morning. Just love your adventures


    it looks like a gear reduction starter with brushes. its a magnet starter. also don’t hit the starter. the magnets on the outer part of the starter can crack and fall apart. ( old direct starters you can tap with a hammer to get its turning but still not advised). I think its a YAMAHA DIESEL ENGINE. you have the one engine is good. happy sailing. still lucky with no schedule or time line in life. thanks.


      Yanmar diesel engine. oops

  • Brad Beck

    One of your best videos, sharing your story. I was wondering…since both engines are the same, how hard (or safety risk) would it be to remove the starter from the engine that was running (remove it while it was running) and install on the other engine to start it? Would there be a way to do this safely so that you could get both engines running?

    Maybe an option in an extreme situation?

    I’ve been following you guys for several years and greatly enjoy the ability to be present with you through your journey!

  • Keith Carlton

    I won’t be able to watch your latest adventure film until Monday [ gone 8 o’clock Sunday morning here now ].

    I find your writing is as superb as your films are.

    Fairwinds, tailwinds to you both.

  • Rob Wilton

    Maybe you should go for a brushless starter motor guys.

  • Danny Lee White

    I think your adventure is grand.
    Im curious whats ahead and where you go next.
    We have been traveling for 2 years now around the United States.
    Medical issues grounded Us for awhile.
    Today We leave La Conner in our Motorhome and head up to A mountain Stream.
    All through the Month Of August and September we bounce from Mountains to Sea.
    At the end of September We head out to The Southern US States
    To enjoy the Desert regions for 3 Moths then down to Pensacola 3 months.
    Hopefully after the Medical issues We can Travel abroad.
    I do like your idea of Travel

  • Charles Wetterman

    Great video of this short passage. I sometime watch you guy on my PC so I can also pull up Goggle Earth Pro to see where your are with somewhat accuracy. When Jason was working on the starter I could not tell if it is brush-less or not. However in the future you may want to carry some Emory cloth to sand the armature a little so to clean some of the carbon off and this could help.

  • Laurence

    Sometimes I feel jaded what with my past experience and YouTube sailing binges, yet there are moments… you did a great job setting up atmosphere in the first few minutes: the drone shots, the quick retro clips, the music, the waking monologue — I really felt a great deal of presence.


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