Out of water and back in again

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Tue 30 Apr 2013 18:43
Hope this won't be too boring for the non-techie types.......
We decided to bite the bullet and lift the boat here in Isla to change the outer saildrive seals. They were leaking and allowing sea water to seep into the saildrive legs just ahead of the propellers. Sea water is definitely not a good lubricant for the various gears and bearings that transmit the drive from the engines to the propellers. That is why there is 2.5 litres of oil doing the job for us. The water and oil had emulsified into a milky gloop inside the leg and had eventually pushed the fluid up, through the top seals and out into the area under the engine. We had to do something to avoid any damage especially as there is a strong likelihood that we would be motoring for a good deal of the way to Florida.
We attempted to undertake the whole job in one day.  The yard here charge a lot of money if you are working on the boat yourself and not using their contractors.  Also they do not allow owners to sleep onboard when the boat is in the yard - preferring you to check into their high end hotel facility next door (more expense!).  So we asked for the earliest lift possible to give us the best chance of clearing the job by 1600 hours when the last lift of the day is scheduled.
We were in the lifting dock at 0830 as arranged. True to the vagaries of boat yards (and Latino culture) we were still in the lifting dock at 0930. This is the law of 'Sod' at work because the lift before us, a yacht from Florida being re-launched, was still in the slings where it's rudder was being pulled out. The shaft was bent out of shape which was roughly the state of 'Skip's' temperament at that point in time.  Muttering about pulling the plug and booking another day.
Finally, however, the vast blue travel lift inched ever so slowly towards us. By 1030 we had been trundled around the yard into an area that resembled a waste ground. While the yard crew went off to find suitable pieces of timber to set the boat down on 'Skip' had the bag of hammers and spanners out and was starting to remove the propellers. It was a huge advantage having our good friend Steve from 'Chanticleer' around to help.  We simply could not have managed the job within the 6 hours we had before the travel hoist was put to bed for the night.
Out of the water for the first time in two years - Ajaya looks so small in the giant travel hoist...........
No time to waste, Steve assists with removing the first of the propellers with the boat still in slings ........and here's the lower gear and prop shaft coming out on port side...
With an upturned waste bin for a work bench we set about removing the shaft seals that are letting water into the oil filled gear case
One of the rear covers with the replacement seals fitted ready for reinstalling...........lots and lots of grease to help.......
In goes the shaft assembly ready for the leg to be refilled with gear oil ...........6 hours later we are on our way back to the lift dock - phew!
Well, despite the odds and the searing heat of the day we completed the work and were on our way back to the lifting bay just after 1600 hours. The whole job will need to be repeated when we next lift in the USA.  There is a lot of wear on the shaft where the seals sit but for now hopefully it will get us the thousand miles or so northwards. If not then we gave it our best shot on the day. Thanks again Steve!