Anchoring with no starboard engine in a crowded anchorage…

Maybe I have bad luck. Maybe I’m not as careful as I believe I am with my equipment. Or maybe boats just continually break. Whatever it might be, the result is the same, blowing 20+ knots in an anchorage crowded with boats waiting for a coming El Norte wind I found myself without use of my starboard engine. This was learned just after dropping the hook and trying to back on the anchor.

As I added a bit of power the boat turned instead of backing straight up. After a few moments of confusion I realized what was going on, cut the power to the port engine and raised a bit of the main sail to help us drift back from the wind. We ended up closer to another boat than I would prefer but still a safe distance. Whew. I couldn’t imagine making a second attempt to anchor (I did however apologize to my neighbor for being so close, to which his response was, “Well it is always better to know the person you crash into.” Thankfully that statement was not prophetic).

The following day (after a night of 35 knot winds which shifted 180 degrees) I made a couple calls to the US, which was a shock as I didn’t think there was cell coverage in San Evaristo, but my phone dinged with a text from a friend alerting me of my good fortune. A call to PacWest for advice, their guess was it was a cable issue as the dog clutch in Yanmar SD20 sail drives rarely fail. Back on the boat I tore into the control unit and experimented with changing the adjustments and found I could get forward OR reverse but not both. A fellow cruiser stopped by and to lend a hand, it was nice to have another brain to bounce ideas off of. Ultimately we determined that there was clearly something wrong with the sail drive and since I could get the sail drive into forward decided to not disassemble anything in the anchorage.

Two days later, and after one nervous docking, I was able to disassembly the sail drive. What I found was a sheared taper pin which holds the shifter assembly to the shifter. There was also noticeable wear on the dog clutch and the shifter. Below is the disassembly process:


Remove the four bolts on the top of the Yanmar SD20 sail drive and then insert a bolt into the lift point to help slide the cover off


After the cover is off, the spacer is removed


The forward gear and bearing assembly is now pulled off


Looking down into the SD20 sail drive with the cover removed


A syringe is used to remove the sail drive oil below the shift assembly


Pull up the clutch shaft (and dog clutch assembly)


With the oil and the clutch shaft removed, the four bolts can be removed to remove the shifter assembly


With the top two shifter assembly bolts removed the shift cable bracket is removed


Wear on the dog clutch


With the shifter assembly removed, the taper pin (mine is in three parts) can be tapped out and the C-clip will allow the shifter to be disconnected

I have ordered the parts that had wear (excluding the drive gears since there wasn’t much wear and the cost was over $1,100) and the O-rings. Here is the part list:
196311-06080 Shifter
196311-04310 Dog clutch
22301-040250 Taper Pin
24311-240100 O-ring
196420-12160 O-ring
24321-000750 O-ring

It was a relief finding that there was not a more serious issue, but still disconcerting to lose an engine. And yes, I did buy spare parts to do the port engine if, scratch that, when it fails.

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