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Old 14-06-2015, 05:26   #1
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Tangled rope causes 130S sail drive gearbox failure

Yesterday June 13th while motoring south in rough seas from St Lucia to Saint Vincent in the Caribbean, one of my propellers on a Volvo Penta 130S sail drive fouled a poorly marked fishing float. The float consisted of two clear plastic large soft drink bottles covered in seaweed slime. By snorkeling, we removed the vast majority of the rope, including that jammed between the prop and the sail drive body. I checked the oil level which was normal with no hint of water contamination.
About two hours later, with both engines running at 2200RPM, we quite suddenly heard very nasty noises coming from that drive gearbox and immediately shut the engine down. On checking the oil, the level just reached the bottom of the dipstick and was very milky. It appears the rope had damaged the seals and oil was lost causing the gearbox damage. Can anyone tell me if they have had similar experience, and if the event might be an accident covered by insurance? Now headed for Grenada on one engine and/or sailing for urgent haul out.
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Old 14-06-2015, 05:51   #2
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Re: Tangled rope causes 130S sail drive gearbox failure

That is some bad luck, particularly since your saildrive is mounted aft of the rudder. Sorry to hear it.

It does sound like the seals are damaged. You may not have any actual drive damage, although I wouldn't expect a lot of "nasty noises" with just low, water-soaked oil.

The only thing to do is what you are doing - haul the boat and pull the seal carrier and propshaft out and look for damage. If the rope pulled the shaft forward, it may have not reset into its bearings correctly.

In the future, you may want to consider line cutters like the "stripper" or "shaft shark" brands.

The insurance question would be answered by your particular policy wording. If it does, it is doubtful the damage exceeds the deductible.


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gear, gearbox, rope, sail

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