Shelter Island Boatyard

We arrived at the boatyard in good order and Duet was pushed under the crane, so the transmission could be removed. This would be done before she is hauled out, so we would be spending a night or two on the docks before she came out of the water. At this point, we moved into a hotel, as we don’t stay aboard the boat when she is out of the water and we weren’t exactly sure when she was going to come out.

Pushing Duet under the crane was harder than it sounds, as the fairway was too tight for us to manuever under power, so we used the old fashioned muscle method.

Removing the transmission was an interesting exercise. We’ve not seen it done before, but it was our sense that our provider did a pretty good job. Nothing was damaged, including the inside of the boat. Given the size of the transmission, this was an achievement. Further, the unit came off pretty easily, with smaller hammers and less pounding than we expected. Off it went to ZF in Seattle to be evaluated and either rebuilt or replaced.

The actual removal process is detailed below. Prior to anything happening, however, we prepared the boat.

Paper the floors

Number the floor joists, so we can put them back in the right order

Testing with all the joists out, just to be sure the transmission will make it out.

Then, the team arrived to remove the transmission. First, though, we needed to set up an A frame to hoist it out of the engine room.

Pool noodles to the rescue

Once the A frame was set up, the transmission was removed. This was easier than it sounds. Then it was hooked up to the chain hoist, raised and put on the salon floor.

Once the transmission is out, it is moved, by several strong men on the moving pad, into the cockpit. The crane operator is tracked down, fires up the crane, and off it goes.

Ready to be crated for shipment

Once the transmission reached Seattle, we thought, it would be a pretty simple decision. ZF’s Seattle shop does this all the time, we already had a quote for a basic rebuild and a general idea of what a new transmission cost. Our local guy also advised us that, if the old one needed new bearings, rather than just clutch plates, it would probably make more sense to buy a new one, based on the costs of the parts alone. He said that the warranty on the rebuild and the new one were the same, so that would have no impact on our decision. So we waved goodbye to the transmission and waited for information to be forthcoming from Seattle.

This is where the process broke down, completely. We patiently waited a week, while other work was getting done on the boat. We knew the transmission had arrived in Seattle, but we were told that we couldn’t talk to the ZF Seattle folks directly, at their request, instead we had to wait for all the information to be filtered through our local ZF guy. We were not happy with that and Ron pushed back, hard, but got nowhere. Not only does a secondary filter take time to pass information back and forth, it makes it more difficult for Ron to make technical decisions, as he can’t bounce questions in real time off the guy with his hands in the unit.

It was also a bit like the old game of telephone, we would ask a question with several parts, e.g. for example, does it need new clutch plates, does it need new bearings, etc. The answer would come back, it needs new bearings. We then said well what about the clutch plates? Surely we should replace those if we have it apart? Then we would wait another 3 days for the other side to be heard from. So we were out two weeks before we knew it and still no decisions about what to do had been made. We can make decisions quite fast, but we need information to make them and we didn’t have much to go on.

Then it got murkier. Since we were told to replace the transmission if it needed new bearings, as a new one would cost the same, we started asking for a quoted cost for a new transmission. Then we were told that the parts for a rebuild would take several weeks to arrive, while a new transmission (price still unspecified) could take more than a month. All of this communicating took another week, so by this time Duet was back in the water and taking up space the yard could ill afford to spare, on a small dock.

At this point, three weeks after the transmission had left San Diego, we decided to cut out the middleman, at least until we could get some hard information. As it happened, we were home at Tahoe for a week, to see the dentist, etc., as we were supposed to be leaving for Mexico the following week. Since Duet couldn’t proceed without her main transmission, despite having a wing engine (more on how we definitely proved that later) we weren’t going anywhere. Nor did we have any confidence that the information we were getting from our local guy was accurate, as it kept changing and none of it was in writing. Ron was working, which left Nancy making some calls.

By now we had figured out that Hatton Marine, in Seattle, was a distributor for ZF transmissions and related parts. So Nancy called our man at Hatton, Bill Cordero, and asked for his help. It turned out that Bill knew ZF folks in Seattle who probably had our transmission. He also knew the largest transmission rebuilder in the Pacific Northwest. So he gave Nancy the rebuilder’s cell number and she called Mike Vogt, at Harbor Marine in Everett, WA. Mike turned out to be an extremely helpful guy. He was able to quote prices and delivery dates, and give Nancy a very good idea of what was actually going on and what our options were.

Based on Mike’s information, and consultation with Ron via text, Nancy traded the old transmission to Mike, ordered a new one (at a price the San Diego guy later called amazingly low) and bought a new torque converter. This part had been redesigned and we already knew we needed one from our San Diego service shop. This all took place in one day, with delivery on everything promised in three to four business days.

Overall, including shipping and before the trade in on the old transmission core, we saved more than a boat unit over the cost of the rebuild, never mind weeks waiting for parts while tied up at $50 per day. $50 per day in San Diego for transient space isn’t a bad price at all, but it mounts up over weeks. Since Duet couldn’t move, our only other choice was to tow her somewhere and then tow her back. By the time we paid for the roundtrip tow, we’d spend the same as the daily rate. Further, since we didn’t know when anything was going to get done, we couldn’t commit to a weekly or monthly slip.

Mike had the old transmission picked up and removed all the parts (such as the bell housing and the shaft coupling shown in the picture above) that shouldn’t have been shipped with it. He fit these to the new transmission to make sure we wouldn’t have any problems when we installed it. Mike even talked to Ron after hours about how to the install the new one, and discussed the issues which might have caused the damage to the old one. Gale, on N50 Worknot, was also very helpful during this process, including sending Ron a detailed email on how a transmission should be installed and tested, to be sure it got done right. Gale was, at the time, dodging Hurricane Matthew on the east coast, while delivering a friend’s boat.

Nancy also bought a new transmission oil cooler, which Mike told us needed to be installed or the new ZF transmission warranty would be invalidated. A new oil cooler, and new hoses, makes sense, as the old parts could be heavily contaminated with debris from the old transmission, which would then immediately be transferred to the new one. Unfortunately, our particular oil cooler couldn’t be cleaned, as it’s a one piece casting, so it had to be replaced. It is a Lugger part, so we got it from Bill at Hatton.

Our San Diego team seemed unaware of ZF’s warranty requirement for a new oil cooler. Possibly the bulk of their business is rebuilds or new boats, but in a rebuild one would assume the oil cooler requirement is the same. Whatever, we were going with Mike’s call since he supplied the new transmission. This also jived with Gale’s 30 years in the business and with Bill Cordero’s council. Ron would install the cooler. He had replaced the hoses the previous year and everyone felt that a good flushing was all they needed.

Nancy called the San Diego ZF guy and told him that the new transmission and other parts would be arriving, along with us, before the week was out. She updated the yard on what had taken place and scheduled the crane for the following Monday, so we could get the new transmission into the boat and get out of there. We were comfortable with our San Diego guy doing the new install, as there had been no problems with removing the old one, we only got into trouble after it left the boat.

So we rushed back to San Diego to give Ron time to change out the oil cooler. The new transmission, courtesy of Mike, beat us there by a day, the new oil cooler arrived as we pulled in. Ron spent the weekend installing the cooler, and the new transmission went in without a hitch on Monday morning. We did a sea trial the next day, the oil pressure, which had tested low on the old unit, was normal and we were good to go.

First, remove the old transmission oil cooler

Then flush the new one, which has a surprising amount of debris in it.

Visit the new transmission to make sure it’s really here

Reverse the transmission removal procedure, during which Ron served as an extra hand

New torsion coupler goes down

Torsion coupler installed inside bell housing

New transmission is fitted

Technical readers will note at this point that the words “shaft alignment” have not yet been mentioned. We were told by our San Diego ZF folks that no alignment would be needed, as the engine hadn’t been moved. This turned out to be completely incorrect, according to several industry sources, alignment is required whenever a transmission is removed and replaced. We didn’t know this for sure, and were uncomfortable forcing the issue, so we gave up and left. By the time we reached Turtle Bay, Mexico, several weeks and several hundred miles later, it was patently apparent that alignment was definitely required, so Ron, with a lot of help from Gale, aligned the transmission himself.

Aligning a transmission, once you have done it once, is pretty simple, if a bit time consuming. The first time you approach the job, however, it is rather daunting. Fortunately for us, this was not Gale’s first transmission job, so he was able to provide clear guidance on what tools we needed, what had to be done and, most importantly, how we would know we had won. He also lent us Mary’s bathroom scale, with Mary’s kind permission, so Ron could compensate for the droop of the shaft, due to it’s overhung load. Nancy didn’t understand this at first either, but it’s pretty clear once you have seen it in action.

Finally, Gale spent time with Ron, when needed, to help him through a couple of tough parts of the job. Gale is one of those rare souls who can not only do, but can also teach. Teaching is tricky, it’s much easier just to tell the student what to do, than let him muddle through it, while providing the occasional nudge to ensure that the process not only gets done right, but the student learns at the same time. Gale is a master at the gentle low key nudge.

So, how do you align a propeller shaft to a transmission shaft? Basically, there are three parameters that need attention: vertical, horizontal, and angle. The centers of the two shafts must be perfectly aligned, meaning there can be no up/down or port/starboard misalignment. Achieving this may require moving the entire engine vertically or horizontally on its mounts. Also, the two shafts must be perfectly parallel to each other, meaning they can not meet at an angle. Achieving this may require adjusting only the forward engine mounts, or only the aft engine mounts. Once alignment is accomplished, the two shafts are linked together through their respective flanges.

Anyone who has tried to line up two pencils in a hole in a moving object in mid air can understand how this might be a difficult process. When you add the fact that everything involved is very heavy and the alignment tolerances are measured in thousands of an inch, you begin to get the general idea of what Ron was up against. That said, shafts get aligned all the time, so he set to work.

We needed several key tools. First, the bathroom scale. Duet’s main engine shaft is about 10 feet long. It is two and a quarter inches in diameter and made of solid steel. Over a ten foot distance, the weight of the shaft itself causes it to droop. Before alignment can be achieved, the droop must be precisely removed. How does one do this? By exerting a carefully calibrated upward force on the end of the shaft, thereby canceling the droop. How much force? There are graphs and tables that allow one to figure this out. One very helpful source we found (actually, Gale gave it to us) is the “Caterpillar Marine Engines Application and Installation Guide.” Dave Harlow at PAE helpfully provided us with information about the shaft length (which is required in the calculations).

After all those charts and math, you need a way of actually measuring how much lifting force you are exerting. It is popular to use a fish scale suspended over the shaft. We did not have a fish scale. So Mary very kindly loaned us her digital bathroom scale (see picture). The shaft was suspended from a crossbeam that was lifted on supports placed at either end of the beam. The base of one of those supports was where the bathroom scale was located. We adjusted the supports until the scale read one-half of the desired lifting force (since the force was being shared by two supports).

Below you can see the supports on either side of the crossbar, with the Amsteel line holding up the shaft. Mary’s scale is to the left, on the bottom, the round silver upper leg is visible. 

Moving the engine, which weighs approximately a ton, from side-to-side is easier than it sounds. Actually, it is often too easy. Once the engine mounts are loosened, sometimes all that is needed is to tap on one mount with a hammer. It is helpful to carefully mark the starting location of the mounts, so that one can judge progress.

If the engine won’t move despite authoritative hammer taps, a long pry bar can be handy. Ron had recently purchased a 3 foot pry bar and was happy to put it to immediate use. Simply levering the engine often involves dramatic overshoots. Instead, it is better to apply a levering force that is not quite enough by itself to move the engine, and then carefully add some gentle hammer taps on the mounts.

In the picture below, Gale is managing the pry bar, while Ron does the tapping.

Gale’s special tapping hammer

Aligning the shaft took about three days. We finally got to the point where any additional adjustment just made things worse. The actual alignment was, as far as Ron could tell, about 9/1000 of an inch off, which was more than our target of 5/1000 (1/1000 of alignment error allowed per inch of flange face diameter)but it was the best we could do. It was an enormous improvement over where we started — 1/8″ or 125/1000’s of misalignment.

This picture was taken before any attempt was made to align the transmission. You can see the extent of the problem along the straight edge. The upper flange (transmission) and the lower flange (prop) should be perfectly aligned, which they are not.

We went out for a sea trial with Gale, with all of us holding our breath. She ran as smooth as silk, even at wide open throttle. We think she is running even more smoothly than she did before the new transmission, and Ron learned a new skill, which was to come in handy with the wing engine later on. So it was a good experience, albeit a bit of a stressful one.

During this sea trial, Gale and Ron also evaluated a potential leak in the main engine gasket. The conclusion was to load the spares to repair it, but to watch it and see if it got significantly worse, before going through the substantial project to replace it

Now that this experience is far enough in our wake that we can look at it dispassionately, what can we learn from it? First, our initial experience with ZF’s San Diego service shop was marginal and we should have taken a step back (they had forgotten we were showing up despite multiple phone calls and emails). Not being allowed to talk with the people actually doing the work (ZF in Seattle) should have also been a red flag, and we will never consent to that kind of arrangement again.

Finally, we should have reached out to folks we trusted about what to do when we initially decided to have the work done, before we blindly relied on a local provider we didn’t know anything about (other than he was certified by the manufacturer) to do a job of this magnitude. Essentially, we should have trusted but verified.

Overall, this experience wasn’t a total loss, because most of the actual work was well done. The mechanics were well trained and careful. Gale said they couldn’t be certified by ZF if they weren’t, and they would have to keep up technically to stay certified. He was right. The boat was undamaged and the new transmission ran just fine, except that was significantly out of alignment.

There is no question in our minds that the San Diego ZF shop should have known that a realignment was required, and should have been able to tell that we had some vibration during our sea trial. Looking back, they insisted on doing the trial only at 1500RPM (that is the RPM required to check hydraulic pressure in the transmission), and we didn’t push it higher. Ron picked up the vibration on our first WOT (wide open throttle) run. If we had insisted on WOT during the sea trial, we would have caught the magnitude of the issue and been more comfortable forcing them to align it correctly.

Our guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the San Diego folks wanted to be rid of us as much as we wanted to be rid of them, and figured that the alignment might only be slightly off. So they skipped that part of the job to speed things up. Our problems with this service provider lay entirely with the front office, not the hands on mechanics. Essentially, the front office just wasn’t home when asked to do it’s job of managing our project and make sure it got done right. What we don’t understand is why. The shop has been there for more than 20 years and has a good reputation. Why risk it on a job like ours?

All we can conclude is that we were a relatively small project, and the marine business is booming, so perhaps we just didn’t merit any attention. This idea is borne out by the fact that the owner of the shop never even bothered to visit our boat, even when it was patently apparent that the job was in trouble. This is in sharp contrast to Chris Fonteneau who personally worked on the replacement of our stabilizer bearings, as we were on a tight time schedule. Chris also insisted on having someone aboard when Duet first started up after the stabilizer service, to ensure that all went well. Our ZF team had to be almost threatened into doing a sea trial, the yard manager even went and told them to do it.

They also knew we were just passing through, so we didn’t represent an ongoing stream of revenue, just a one time deal. This assessment does ignore some weird bits of information, such as being told it would take at least a month to get a new transmission, when Mike had four new ones just sitting on a shelf. Or that a new transmission would cost about 50% more than we actually paid for one. We choose to attribute this to ignorance, rather than intent.

Regardless, our project was left to languish until we stepped in and took over. It wasn’t really the end of the world, except it cost us several thousand dollars in additional slip fees, part shipments, etc. and two weeks of time, plus the work Ron (and Gale) had to do to align the transmission later on. Is this bad? It depends on your perspective, many boat owners would be thrilled to get away this easily with a job this big. This is a sad commentary on the state of the marine services industry, but it does jive with our experience in 25 years of working with marine professionals. All this said, the rest of our work during this yard stay was well done and was completed on time, on budget. The yard manager bent over backward to find us somewhere to tie up when our schedule went out the window. So, except for the transmission service, this was a good yard experience.

We did get some pictures of the inside of the old transmission, which was contaminated with debris. The bearing races were scored, presumably from the debris. Since Ron has religiously changed the oil for the last four years, we are not certain how the contaminates got there. Ron is going to flush the transmission case with diesel after removing the old oil in the future, just to make sure that any debris left in bottom of the case is removed. Recently, we have learned that another Nordhavn 50 has had her transmission replaced, which is interesting. In the end, despite the difficulty and cost of this project, we are glad we did it.

Below are the old transmission bearing races

Close up of transmission race showing scoring from debris

Below is an old bearing, showing signs of debris

In addition to the transmission work, we had some other projects to be completed at Shelter Island. All of these were going on in tandem with the transmission, so we had a pretty busy few weeks. First, of course, was hauling the boat out of the water, so the stabilizers could be serviced, the bottom could be painted, the zincs could be changed, etc. Shelter Island expected us to stay on the hard one week, and that is exactly how long we stayed. Nancy had queued up Fonteneau to start on the fins before the bottom was dry from the haul out and they were standing there as she came dripping out of the well. The ABT service guys were right there in the yard, so they started at the same time.

As an aside, Shelter Island is the first boatyard which hauled Duet correctly. Our 50, for reasons unknown, has a rubber rather than stainless steel cap on her lower rail. Every time the boat has been hauled the rubber cap has been damaged by the slings. The Shelter Island yard manager, instead of ignoring our description of the problem like the other yards did, actually thought about it. When Duet was hauled he put a diver in the water to set blocks between the slings and under the rub rail, rather than above the rail, as had been done in the past. This completely protected the rubber strip when the straps tightened, and we had no damage. We shall ensure that this is done by all yards in the future.

The yard guys also pulled the thru hull screens, installed a new thru hull on our manual bilge pump, which has always been problematic, and began cleaning up her underwater hardware so it could be coated with Propspeed. We have seen other boats using Propspeed, which is designed to keep barnacles and other critters from setting up housekeeping on the main propellor, for example, so we thought we would give it a try, as Duet is going to be in warm water until she arrives in New Zealand a year from now.

Bow thruster blades, before and after

Main prop after

Primed thru hull strainers, waiting for bottom paint

New zinc on rudder shoe

Watching Fonteneau service the Naiads was Ron’s number one priority, after the transmission. He expects to have to do this service in remote places and wants to make sure he gets it right. Also, seeing a side rebuilt, while he hopes he never has to do it, is a great learning opportunity.

The first step was to remove both fins, as we were replacing the seals on both sides, as well as replacing the bearings on the starboard side.

Below is the schematic of a Naiad 252 actuator assembly, to get the reader oriented. The entire bearing cavity is filled with a heavy white grease

Fontaneau removes the inner ring, as we have seen done before

But then they remove the outer ring, and pump new grease into the bearing cavity. This causes some of the grease in there to run out. If the grease is contaminated by seawater, it will be a dark color. If it isn’t, it will be white. The photo below is of our port assembly, which was fine.

This photo is of the grease inside the starboard assembly, which was contaminated with seawater and needed to be rebuilt. 

To rebuild the starboard side, the shaft and bearing were removed, which requires disconnecting them from the actuator inside the boat. Ron took this opportunity to clean up the actuator



The new starboard side bearing going in, Chris Fonteneau is shown gooping it up

Once the bearing is in and attached to the assembly, the shaft is installed. This requires coordination with the team inside the boat, which is attached the shaft to the actuator, via the bearing.

After the shaft is aligned and connected, the rest of the parts go back on.

Back goes the fin. This is the port side fin, same process for the starboard

Fontaneau also rebuilt our water maker high pressure pump. Art spent some time with Ron on the spare parts he would carry if he were going to Tahiti, and those were loaded in due course. Both Art and Chris thought about what we should carry for Naiad repairs, and we ordered a new potentiometer, a spare torque arm, a spare rod end, a spare cylinder and assorted hoses. We also carry enough hydraulic oil to completely drain and refill the system.

High pressure pump off to be rebuilt

While Ron was taking a Naiad technical course, Nancy kept an eye on the other folks. Whenever we go into a yard or work with a service provider, Ron is in charge of the technical stuff, while Nancy handles scheduling and bill payment. She also operates Goldberg transport, driving back and forth to Chula Vista almost every day to pick packages, as well as all over San Diego getting provisions, parts, etc., as we were simultaneously loading stuff for the South Pacific journey.

To say this week on the hard was hectic would be somewhat of an understatement. Shelter Island needed us back in the water, no only us but the two 65 foot boats packed in ahead of us, as a 122 footer was arriving for a long haul, with significant interior work and a complete paint job to be done. The new 165 ton lift has really put Shelter Island on the map for larger boats, their biggest problem, similar to the Newport Shipyard, is that in busy season they cannot find space to fit all the boats who want work. This is good for the local economy but is hard on the yard managers, who spend most of their time working to fit boats and projects into a limited space, while keeping customers happy and dealing with folks who overstay their reservation, like us.

Duet is shown below, packed in the back of the row.

Duet went right back in the water on time. The general idea was to have her move, using her wing engine, from the lift well to the outside yard dock, where we could stay tied up until our transmission returned. At this point, we, and the yard manager, thought the transmission would be back the following week, as that was what we were led to believe. We had, at that point, no reason not to believe it, as we had an estimate to rebuild the unit (missing the bearing replacement which we learned about later) and no one had yet told us that it would take 2-3 weeks to get the parts to rebuild it. So, with everyone blissfully ignorant of this, we planned to fire up the wing engine, trundle out into the anchorage, turn around and move over to the dock. The yard guys pushed us off and went to prepare to meet us.

At this point it might be worth mentioning the anatomy in the engine room, when the transmission is removed. The transmission sits between the main engine and the shaft, which passes into the transmission, which turns it by transferring power from the engine. Not too hard to figure out, even Nancy could follow it. So, when our transmission was removed, the transmission guys secured the shaft, and said don’t worry it can’t fall out. They were absolutely right, it can’t, the rudder is in the way. What everyone, except Gale, who we definitely should have listened to, didn’t realize was, while it can’t fall out, it can slide backward. Which is exactly what happened when Ron accelerated to make the turn in the anchorage. Unfortunately, when it slid back it blocked the steering, jamming it over to one side.

Nancy, busy sorting out lines and fenders for our imminent docking, was initially unaware of our predicament until Ron informed her, remarkably calmly through her headset, that we had no steering. Given that the wind was picking up and the wing isn’t really the strongest player on our team, this wasn’t good news. First, Ron had Nancy check the steering in the lazarette to see if anything was visibly stuck. No such luck. So he then, brilliantly as it turned out, decided to drop the anchor.

Nancy took the wheel, gunning the wing while simultaneously running the bow thruster (whose battery was rapidly going flat because it is charged by the main engine, which wasn’t running) to try to keep Duet’s bow into the wind, while Ron released the anchor. Never have we, or the guy tied up on his nice little Grand Banks on the dock behind us, been more grateful that we have such a large primary hook. It held, on about 1.5:1 scope in 20 feet of water. Duet stopped moving backwards. Nancy then called for a tow, SeaTow responded but was 30 minutes away.

As Ron was dropping a little more chain to better secure our hold without landing us on the guy behind us, Nancy chanced to look out the port pilothouse window. There, full steam ahead, came an unmarked rather workboat like vessel, with at least 4 yard guys aboard she recognized. It zoomed up to our port quarter, Nancy tied off it’s stern line, the captain gunned the big single engine, Ron raised the hook, and with some fanfare, but not much, we were deposited on the nearest yard dock. Nancy called SeaTow back and cancelled the tow. This rescue was due to the fact that, when this incident first started, Nancy had yelled to the yard guys to get a tow boat, if they could. This tow boat was at the yard, where it is based, by sheer chance, normally it would be out somewhere, towing.

Once we were tied up and the adrenaline had started to bleed off, we began to wonder who our rescuer was. Highly unpleasant articles about salvage tows surfaced in our memories. The Captain of the tow boat came over and introduced himself as Tom. We thanked him for his assistance, and nervously asked “how much do we owe you?” He said $200. We paid cash. Later that evening he came down for a chat.

We learned a lot about towing, as Tom had spent 32 years in the Navy. We also learned a lot about salvage. When Nancy had taken his line she created a contract. It probably would have been interpreted by a court as a salvage tow, as we were in some danger of dragging and destroying property. That said, we weren’t actually dragging until Tom/Nancy put the full weight of the tow boat on our hook, which then started to slip. So there was some grey there. Regardless, we got seriously lucky and were towed by an honest man.

In the meantime, right after our rather dramatic return, our ABT tech, who also worked on our steering, and the diver who had helped when Duet was hauled, came down to see what had happened. We hadn’t had time to process anything, so we had no idea what had blocked the steering. It rapidly became apparent, however, that the shaft had slid right back in the boat. The big nut on the end of the shaft behind the propeller hit the leading edge of the rudder and jammed it. There was no damage, according to Ian the diver, other than a small nick in our nice new bottom paint. Given what could have happened, this was welcome news indeed.

In the picture below, you can see the shaft pulled back.

This picture show the big nut on the end of the shaft and it’s position vis-a-vis the rudder

Ian pushed from the water, Ron and Boomer (from the ABT shop) using Boomer’s huge pipe wrench (a twin of which Ron later acquired) pulled, and the shaft slid right back in. Ron then did what Gale told us to do in the first place, which was to take Gale’s shaft zinc (lent to us for this very purpose), put it on the shaft and tighten it down in front of the stuffing box, so the shaft cannot move at all. Ron then lashed the shaft in for good measure.

So, in the end, Duet was fine, we were fine and the whole thing cost $220, including $20 for the diver. The entire yard knew what had happened, which we figure didn’t do our transmission shop’s reputation any good, as the shaft wasn’t all that secure when they finished their work. That said, the failure to figure out what might happen was on us, especially when Gale had already told us how to reduce the risk of the shaft sliding out and we didn’t do it.

The professional crews on the two big boats on the yard docks next to us commended us (Ron really) for having the presence of mind to anchor and they paid us the ultimate compliment by assuming that we, too, were professional crew. And, we now recommend Tom to everyone, should they need towing in the San Diego area. He actually towed Duet twice more, into a small area out of the way while we waited another three weeks for the transmission kerfuffle to be straightened out, and then out of it again and into the crane well. Watching him pull/push and generally muscle Duet’s 40 tons around in tight quarters with a single engine 30 foot work boat was a humbling experience.

We had a few other things done while we waited for the transmission. Fonteneau rebuilt the high pressure pump on the water maker and Ron installed a new VHF antenna, after working with a radio whisperer recommended by Christi on Varnebank. We completed our survey, which we had commissioned as Duet is now 16 and, as boats age, insurance companies tend to want more recent surveys. Duet managed to pass with flying colors, the surveyor noted only two minor items, which is entirely to Ron’s credit and all his hard work since we have owned her. We went out to dinner a lot, we went home for a week, and we loaded an incredible amount of stores, supplies and parts for the South Pacific. That process and Ron’s projects connected with that trip are discussed in a separate blog.

New VHF antenna coming home



One thought on “Shelter Island Boatyard”

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