Staying with Straight Shafts
I read with great interest Mike Smith’s article, “The Real Price of Pods,” (December 2017). It just so happened, I was limping a 2009 Regal 52 with Volvo IPS 600’s down the coast of Maine looking for a yard that was willing and able to take on the repair. At the time, I had to disagree with Smith’s statement that “qualified service and repair technicians are easy to find.” I’m just a delivery captain and the boat was turned over to us in Eastport, Maine. We headed out at first light in 2- to 3-foot seas, en route to Dysart Marine in Southwest Harbor. The boat handled well in the conditions and we looked forward to a 10-hour cruise. About three hours in we lost thrust in the starboard pod and immediately smelled oil on a hot manifold. A quick survey of the ER revealed the upper gearbox oil fill cap had blown out and belched oil all over the ER.
The weather was forecast to deteriorate, so Southwest Harbor was not an option on one engine. The closest port was Jonesport, Maine. We limped in and were assigned a mooring ball. Jonesport is home to Jonesport Shipyard and a Hamilton Marine Store. The starboard upper gearbox was about three quarts low. A quick trip to Hamilton Marine replenished that, but no joy with the tranny.
So we put Jonesport Shipyard on the case, but they weren’t experienced with pods. We limped 60 miles to Stonington. Billings Marine, the Volvo dealer, removed the upper gear case to diagnose the issue. I don’t have a bad word for the Billings Marine folks: open, honest, fair, and reasonable—they just weren’t equipped to rebuild the gearboxes. So several folks recommended Power Products out of Portland, Maine. We rode out Hurricane Philippe in Stonington, and off we limped to Journeys End Marina in Rockland, Maine.
That’s where the ill-fated Regal 52 was hauled and blocked while waiting for the Volvo folks to come and evaluate it. So, can you guess my thoughts on pod drives? More expensive to buy and repair, and more difficult to find qualified repair facilities in remote places. I’ll respectfully avoid the pod revolution!