Full Reviews of Marine Diesel Basics 1

My sincere thanks to everyone who has taken time to write a review of the book.

Here are the full reviews, some of which have been published elsewhere on this website in slightly abbreviated form.


Magazine & Newsletter Reviews

  • Sail
  • Good Old Boat
  • Sailboat Cruising
  • Zeilen
  • Nautical Mind
  • Australian Sailing
  • Cruising Helmsman
  • Québec Yachting
  • Practical Boat Owner

Jump to Readers' Reviews

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Sail magazine cover

"If you’re not mechanically inclined, even the simplest maintenance tasks on a diesel engine and its associated paraphernalia can be daunting. There are plenty of books on the subject, but many of them assume a certain level of knowledge and others are poorly illustrated. Dennison Berwick literally starts with the basics and leads the reader through the process of understanding how engines and drivetrains work, and what’s needed to keep them working. Step-by-step instructions accompanied by excellent drawings take you through winterizing and commissioning procedures and much more. The best guide on the subject I’ve seen, this book has a place on every diesel-equipped boat."

Peter Nielsen, SAIL  June 2018




Good Old Boat cover Sept 2017

Good Old Boat  fall 2017

"Dennison Berwick presents a practical, illustrated guide for marine diesel engine maintenance. The main advantage of this guide is its clear and simple illustrations. This guide fills a gap for the person is just getting into diesel engine maintenance. Sometimes Calder’s books assume a level of knowledge that the neophyte mechanic simply doesn’t possess. Imagine trying to tell somebody how to check the oil that has no idea what a dipstick looks like or where on the engine to find it. Berwick’s guide is a huge asset for those wishing to get a little more hands on in the engine room due to its simple, visual directions.

"The guide sets out five sections: general maintenance, lay-up, winter protection, tropical storage, spring recommission. To most readers the general maintenance section will be the most important as it teaches the reader how to do most engine maintenance tasks right through from checking the oil level to servicing the cutlass bearing. I would estimate that 99% of the work I do on our engine aboard SV Monark is covered by this manual.

"In addition to the simple illustrations, what I found quite refreshing was the practical nature of the directions. I’ve read too many manuals that specify a unique tool to do a job that a pair of pliers will adequately handle. A good example is Berwick’s direction for removing the impeller from the pump housing. In most manuals the direction is to use an impeller puller. Honestly, who has these onboard? We all use needle nose pliers and feel badly about it. Berwick suggests using a variety of methods, including how to do it with needle nose pliers. And he outlines what tools and materials you need right at the beginning of the job to be completed so you don’t get half way through and realize that you needed a spare gasket.

"While this manual will not supplant Calder’s Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Troubleshooting, it is makes an excellent companion guide. I would venture as far as to say that it is essential material for anybody just starting out on diesel engines due to its clear illustrations. It would have saved me hundreds of hours of researching and watching long-winded YouTube videos when I began tackling our own power plant. Even after 5 years of full-time cruising and engine maintenance I discovered a number of new tips and tricks in this guide. I highly recommend it."


Sailboat Cruising review Jan 2018
SailboatCruising text of review Jan 2018 text

Sailboat Cruising  issue #41 January 2018

"We're a pretty adventurous bunch, we Sailboat Cruisers - take Dennison Berwick for instance.
He's a sailor, marine mechanic, writer and illustrator, and lives aboard his 36-foot Chevrier sloop 'Oceandrifter' - currently in Malaysia.

He has sailed in Europe, the Great Lakes of North America, the North Atlantic, sub-Arctic Labrador and the Andaman Sea in South-East Asia.

Before taking up sailing, he walked across India and traveled solo in a small canoe in the Amazon rain forest for five years.

Dennison contacted me recently, "Would I like to take a look at his new book 'Marine Diesel Basics'?".

Well of course there was only one answer to that. A paperback copy of the book duly arrived, which I've now read from cover to cover, learning a great deal about maintaining a marine diesel engine in the process.

Denison's written descriptions and step-by-step illustrations are impressive! He clearly knows the subject intimately and has the rare gift of being able to transfer his knowledge to the reader in an extremely easy-to-understand manner.

There's already an ebook, and will soon be a wire-bound version of the book which will lie flat and be easier to use when working on a project directly from the pages.

For more information, and to get your hands on a copy of your own, take a look at www.marinedieselbasics.com."

Zeilen sailing magazine cover
Dutch magazine Nautigue review of Marine Diesel Basics 1

Dutch sailing magazine Zeilen review  November 2017

Extract in English:

"The enormous amount of useful information is divided into three parts: keeping your engine running, preparing for the winter stop, and preparing the weather for the new season. By part the author describes step by step what needs to be done; The accompanying illustrations make the book a very helpful reference work...everything is covered. Is your understanding of English good, and do you get a little bit of how a diesel engine works? Then you need nothing else than this e-book to give your (engine) a long and grunting life."

Full review in Dutch:

"Marine Diesel Basics is uitgegeven in eigen beheer. Dat maakt het book niet minder uitgebreid en compleet, maar wel iets minder overzichtelijk. De enorme hoeveelheid nuttige informative is onderverdeeld in drie delen: het lopend houden van je motor, het klaarmaken voor de winterstop, en het weer klaarmaken voor het nieuwe seizoen. Per deel beschrijft de auteur stap voor stap wat er moet gebeuren; de bijgevoegde illustraties maken het boek tot een erg behulpzaam naslagwerk. Van saildrives tot impellers, van V-snaren tot antivries, en van carter tot brandstoffilter: alles komt aan bod. Ben je het Engels machtig en snap je een beetje hoe een dieselmotor werkt? Dan heb je niets anders nodig dan dit e-boek om je motor een lang en knorrend leven te geven."


Nautical Mind blog cover

Blog post of Nautical Mind, Canada's nautical bookstore  November 2017     Go to blog

Here at the Nautical Mind, we have books written by all kinds of perspectives. Many of our books are by experts like Nigel Calder and are filled with technical details. Others, like the book I’m going to talk about today, are the product of hard experience, but are written for those without advanced technical training. Marine Diesel Basics by Dennison Berwick is a brilliant book that should be part of the boat’s library for everybody Canadian sailor who has a diesel engine aboard their boat.

Dennison Berwick is an experienced Canadian sailor, and this book is borne of his hard-won experience aboard Oceandrifter. This book specifically targets many aspects of diesel engines, from ongoing maintenance, to winterization, re-commissioning in the spring, and preparation for long-term storage. It is very specifically targeted to diesel engines- and doesn’t cover other topics. But this is absolutely fine because this should be the only book on diesel engines most people should need. Frankly, it seems that if there issues you can’t address with this book, they are probably ones that you should seek professional mechanical help for anyways.

For day-to-day maintenance, and for the seasonal maintenance requirements, this book is really well laid out. It considers the diesel engine as a system. The book is divided into three main sections: Maintenance, Lay-Up, and Recommissioning, and each section contains many individual processes.

Although this book doesn’t have many photographs, each process has a number of illustrations. These, for example, show the reader what the process they’re doing will generally look like. And further, visual clues of good things and bad things to look for. When it comes to maintenance for example, it provides examples of both what is to be expected, and then lists of alternatives and necessary actions.

Although it may seem like a minor thing, each process details all the equipment needed- including for cleaning up before and after. This kind of attention to detail will make this book ideal for those who are not especially experienced and yet are entirely capable of maintaining their engines themselves

Overall, this book is highly recommended for anybody who has a diesel engine aboard their boat.

Australian Sailing review of Marine Diesel Basic1, Nov 2017

click to enlarge

Australian Sailing magazine, Oct-Nov 2017

Although the title of this book includes the word “basics” it is a very, very comprehensive coverage of the subject. Even if you’re the type of boat owner who likes to call in the experts, this is an excellent book to have on board in case anything goes wrong. And if you like to be across everything on your boat that moves – and even some things that shouldn’t – then this is as good a guide as you’ll get. The book covers not just the engine itself, but all associated parts – the fuel system, lubrication, cooling, breathing, electrical and drive train. The author’s excellent illustrations (there are more than 300 of them) make understanding the text very easy. Every single step of regular maintenance, trouble- shooting, laying up and recommissioning are covered. I particularly liked the structure of this book. Each chapter starts with “Main Concerns”, which tells you what can go wrong and why. It is followed by a task list, with each step carefully explained and illustrated. Highly recommended.

Cover of Quebec Yachting magazine fall 2017
Review of Marine diesel Basics 1 in Quebec Yachting fall 2017

Québec Yachting  fall 2017

Vous cherchez des informations sur les systèmes de propulsion marine au diesel ? Ce livre comprenant plus de 300 illustrations, dont l’auteur est un navigateur et un mécanicien marin, vous explique de manière claire et simple comment installer, entretenir, vérifier, inspecter et prévenir d’éventuels problèmes. Vous en apprendrez beaucoup grâce à ses conseils sur l’entretien, l’essence, la lubrification, le refroidissement, l’aération, l’électricité et la transmission). Vous obtiendrez également des renseignements sur la préparation de votre système pour l’hiver et sur le remisage dans un endroit tropical où il fait chaud et humide.
Vous souhaitez bien préparer votre système au diesel avant le début de la saison de navigation afin de vous assurer qu’il sera fiable et que vous n’aurez pas de problème? Vous trouverez des explications sur toutes les pièces, des listes d’outils dont vous aurez besoin, autant pour effectuer une réparation sur un voilier, un bateau à moteur, une petite embarcation ou un sail-drive. Le refroidissement direct ou indirect de votre moteur diesel n’aura plus de secrets pour vous!

Translation of last sentence: "(Whether) direct or indirect cooled, your diesel engine will have no secrets for you".

review of Marine Diesel Basics 1 in Practical Boat Owner Nov 2017

Practical Boat Owner   November 2017

"This book is said to be the first visual guide to marine diesel systems. Author Dennison Berwick promises to show everything boaters need to know to maintain their diesel system, winterise, protect from heat and humidity, and recommission for trouble-free running.  Features include more than 300 drawings, 64 maintenance tasks, 66 lay-up tasks, 53 recommissioning tasks. it covers sailboat, motorboats and narrowboats, indirect and direct cooled diesel engines, as well as saildrives."

Readers' Reviews

Absolutely fabulous book
"I have just finished reading your absolutely fabulous book “Marine Diesel Basics”. I wish that I had had the opportunity to read it 35 years ago. It would have saved a lot of learning by mistakes, and being frightened to do things for myself. The illustrative diagrams are brilliant. Your text is well organised and very clear. You have lots of practical experience and are also able to present information well in written form. "  Roger L, email to the author, May 2020


Best marine diesel maintenance book out there
"I read every marine diesel book I can get my hands on. This one is my favorite--right to the point. No unnecessary words (not even capitalization or punctuation lol). Very helpful illustrations and helpful charts The best part is that Mr. Berwick understand the little real-life issues you will encounter when you actually go to do that job, and he has great suggestions for dealing with them. That's where other books fall short, not to mention the fact that other books tend to be too wordy and technical. He even addresses designs you are likely to encounter, for example, different filter housing designs. Highly recommended."    Dave N   verified purchase Amazon.com   April 17, 2018

"Excellent book, straight forward and to the point.
A must on any sailboat! Looking forward to more books from Captain Berwick."   Robert Edwards, Amazon.com


"...laid out in a way that just makes sense. It is a joy to read and assimilate."  Michael Erkkinen, personal review  December, 2017.

I'm a pretty committed sailor who is intimidated by all things engine.

I'm a pretty committed sailor who is intimidated by all things engine. This book is so beautifully simple and understandable that I have promised myself to take on the major portion of maintenance and repair. If you own a marine diesel or plan to, and have room to grow as a mechanic, it would be just silly to deny yourself this tool.

The book is laid out in a way that just makes sense. It is a joy to read and assimilate. My compliments to the author on doing such a fine job of demystifying a subject that can often get complicated.

My current vessel is a small traditional schooner with the Yanmar shoehorned into a space that really needs a skinny, 6" tall mechanic to effectively work on it. Since I can't actually see most of the engine, the beautiful illustrations in this book have given me a decent shot at actually knowing what I'm working on.

"Very instructional and comprehensive book"   R. Nelson, posted on amazon.com, September 27th, 2017 5-stars

Mr. Berwick's book is full of clear, concise procedures for all the maintenance jobs that need to be done on a Diesel-engined boat, with hints for making the jobs easier and avoiding problems. He has created many clear illustrations for understanding the tasks needed, with a list of tools and supplies required for each job. And his cautionary tales are also very instructive. I recommend his book to every sailor who wants to develop independence and confidence for maintaining her/ his boat for them selves..

Very useful, practical and to the point, a must on every boat. Good job Capt Berwick !! Write some more books."  Hristo Papakonstantopoulos, posted on amazon.com July 30, 2017. 5-stars

"Your book went down a storm earlier in the week with my students..."

Richard Caves, C Power Training, Scotland, private message to author, June 30, 2017.

"Just what I needed..."

Amazon customer, posted on amazon.com, June 14, 2017. 5-stars

Just what I needed...
By Amazon Customer on June 14, 2017
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent, clear, concise and easy to follow. Highly recommended ?

"It's the book I wish I had four years ago"

Jase Kovacs, posted on Marine Diesel Basics Facebook page, May 19, 2017.

Everything I know about engines I've learned since I've had my boat. I spent most of the first year painfully out of my depth (boat puns lol), engine manual in one hand, google in the other, discovering that yelling "start you bastard" doesn't really work that well.

I'd done the RYA Diesel Maintenance course, which was half a day of "here's how to change your oil" - a course that really wasn't any help when I started dealing with real issues. On the other end of the spectrum were the bibles like Nigel Calder's "Marine Diesel Engines" - indepth tomes that were often poorly illustrated walls of text that assumed a level of knowledge I didn't yet possess.

What I needed was a mid level manual - preferably with loads of pictures! - to help me though that awkward adolescence of boat ownership where I made many painful mistakes.

I've had some excellent mentors but as far as reference materials go, I hadn't really found any pitched at that mid level. Until now.

Marine Diesel Basics is a fantastic Facebook page run by Canadian sailor Dennison Berwick that hits that sweet spot. He's just released a new book "Marine Diesel Basics" that I find far more accessible than the 'bibles', mostly due to its hundreds of simple, clear illustrations. Basically it's the book I wish I had four years ago and that's why I'm posting about it today."


"Thoughtfully well written and the illustrations make this topic accessible. I recommend it highly."
Amazon Customer
, posted on amazon.com May 18, 2017. 5-stars

Evidently marine diesel maintenance isn't that hard or scary.

By Christopher R. on May 18, 2017
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Dennison Berwick challenges boat owners to stop being so intimidated by their diesel engines and to realize that basic maintenance is actually easy...but you have to do it. He's right of course and this message was written with me in mind; a non-marine professional recreational yacht owner. His pictures were instructive and his positive attitude was inspiring. I plan to immediately change my own attitude and perhaps even enhance my own boat enjoyment. It is thoughtfully well written and the illustrations make this topic accessible. I recommend it highly.

Great sailboat owner's book
By Amazon Customer on May 15, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for anyone responsible for the maintenance of their own boat. It details in simple drawings the best practices for maintaining, storing and recommissioning a boat. As the owner of an older boat, a 1972 CheoyLee Offshore 33, I spend a lot of time repairing and updating a lot of the hardware. I do all my own work, so I need to know what I am doing. This book has helped me compose to-do lists for haul out at hurricane season and before putting it back in the water. I recommend it to any boat owner but especially a sail boat owner who does their own maintenance.

"This book should be required reading for anyone responsible for the maintenance of their own boat"

Amazon Customer, posted on amazon.com May 15, 2017. 5-stars

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