As we mentioned in our previous post, we caught a fishing net of Eastbourne on the way down from London, which wrapped itself round our prop and we had it cut off by a diver in Brighton. So although we tried to get it lifted for an inspection as soon as we could, last weekend was the first time the boatyard could get us out. Generally the bottom was in good condition, but the prop was another matter
The shaft was a little longer than it should have been and the rope cutter bit that should be stationary was turning with the prop shaft.
Something wasn’t right, we hadn’t been taking on any water, so we knew the prop shaft was still attached to the engine, but we could see the stern gland wasn’t in good shape.
The only thing for it was to get the prop off and the prop shaft out, unfortunately this meant taking the rudder off too. At this stage we thought we’d better give the insurance guys a call, they said it was OK to proceed to investigate, so Dave our trusty shipwright got the nod to take it all apart.
As you can see when we pulled the prop-shaft out, the stern tube cam out with it!
The stern tube is a stainless steel tube that is set into the fibre glass that the prop-shaft rotates in, this has water pushed down it from inside the boat, that pours out the end and which lubricates the shaft and definitely shouldn’t be rotating.
Once we had it all out we looked at the engine mounts that have also moved and will need to be replaced, the prop shaft replaced or straighten and possibly a new prop.
We have made some superposition based on what we found, We believe the rope cutter managed to cut the vast quantity of the net off, but the remainder of the net wrapped itself so tightly round the prop and stern tube that it fused itself to both the stern tube and the prop-shaft, which in turn prevented water escaping and lubricating the shaft and glued both parts together, thus ripping the stern tube from its fibreglass keel.
This is not only going to be very costly, but also time consuming, meaning a significantly reduced cruising season. I will update once we have a better idea of whats what.