Stay­ing with Straight Shafts

Power & Motor Yacht - - INBOX -

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!

—Paul Kelly

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