Select Page

There are less maintenance tasks to carry out on a saildrive transmission than on a traditional inboard shaft drive system with its associated stern gear. For example, you don’t have to worry about engine alignment, cutless bearings and stern glands. I owned a boat for seven years that had a Volvo Penta saildrive transmission system and this caused no problems during my ownership. The same applies to Yanmar saildrive systems.

However, there are a few critical things that require maintenance. These are as recommended in detail by the engine manufacturers and should be adhered to.

Corrosion

  • Drive leg housings are made from aluminium and they must therefore be well protected from corrosion, requiring a special copper-free antifouling paint, plus undercoats. The housings also need dedicated sacrificial zinc anodes to prevent them from galvanic corrosion.
  • Carefully inspect the drive leg for any damage to the paintwork. Any exposed aluminium will quickly corrode in salt water. Look for any white corrosion beginning to form on places where paint may have been chipped off. If any such damage is found it will need to be ground back before the unit becomes seriously damaged.
  • Anodes are designed to protect saildrives from electric currents generated while in sea water.
  • The electrical system of the engine will need to be an isolated system and not one which is grounded to the battery negative.
  • When a non-aluminium propeller is fitted, additional anodes are required.

Oil change

  • Regular checks of saildrive transmission oil are important. Any signs of milky coloured oil indicate water has found its way into the system. This could occur because of a shaft seal failure or defective drain plug seal.
  • Manufacturers usually recommend that the transmission oil is changed annually, which can only be done ashore by draining the oil from the base of the leg. On some systems the oil can be removed using a hand pump operated from the engine bay. In order for the oil to drain completely, remove the filler cap on top to allow air in.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s recommend oil and be careful not to overfill the system.
  • Be aware that some manufacturers recommend a torque setting for the oil drain plug and also advise that the seal is replaced regularly, because if there is the smallest crack in the rubber seal it will leak.

seal saildrive maintenance

Rubber seal

  • The saildrive leg passes through a thick rubber seal that attaches to the base of the hull. Yanmar sail drives differ from Volvo Penta so it is worth checking with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Volvo recommending replacing seals after 7 years while Yanmar recommend replacing their sail drive seals every two years, which is quite a difference. Replacing sail drive seals is a fairly major job which has to be done ashore and entails lifting the engine. The part itself is pricey but significant additional cost needs to be factored in for the engine lift and labour involved.

Tidal terms and definitions

Getting to grips with tidal terms and definitions can seem a little daunting, even to the most experienced sailors! Here we look at some of the key terms and definitions associated with the language of tides.

Competent crew skills: mooring lines

Mooring lines are used when arriving or leaving a berth. One of the most important competent crew skills is to know how to...

Getting a tow for your sail or power boat at sea or on inland waterways

FREE tips from the Safe Skipper App for iPhone/iPad/Android: Getting a tow for your sail or power boat Plan how to secure a...

Know your Navlights & Shapes – essential for all skippers

Know your Navlights & Shapes International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs) Anyone who is...

Seized fixings and fastenings

Maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience but at times it can also be frustrating. A prime example of this is when you come across a seized fixing or fastening that refuses to budge. Read our tips on how to release and fix them:

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 8 – Arriving at the Azores

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the eighth of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first-hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

The dangers of running aground in a motor boat

The peril of grounding a motor boat is not only an inconvenience; it can lead to substantial risks for both the vessel and its passengers. . In this article, we’ll explore the potential dangers of running aground and highlight the importance of proper navigation and preparedness to avoid these hazards!

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 4

Applying antifouling. Antifouling is best applied on a dry, calm day. It is best to apply the antifouling in the middle of the day to ensure the hull is dry and as warm as possible.

Boating Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts on the Water

Boating etiquette is essential for ensuring the safety, enjoyment, and harmony of everyone on the water. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or new to the boating community, it’s important to be aware of the do’s and don’ts of boating etiquette. Take a look at our guidelines:

Essential Knots: Reef knot

Essential Knots: Reef knot Use: Tying two ends of rope together, often used for tying up a bundle of loose sail around the boom. Step...

Capsize – understanding the risks

A skipper should know how their boat will cope with rough seas. By working within known limits and understanding the risks,...

A five day sailing cruise of the Solent, UK

Welcome to our virtual Solent sailing cruise – a five day sail in the south of England from Bosham Quay in Chichester...

Essential Yachting + Power Boat Safety Briefing

Yachting Safety Briefing   Down below Lifejackets and harnesses - fitting, when to wear, clipping on Gas - risks,...

Rewiring a boat – overcoming the challenges involved

Skippers need to have a basic knowledge of boat electrics, to avoid potential problems and to be able to solve them when they happen.

Peer to Peer yacht charter – How can you monetize your boat?

There is a growing trend in peer to peer yacht charter. How does it work? People already rent rooms, cars and bikes from one...

Keel maintenance and Repair – Part 2

If you have ever witnessed a boat colliding with a rock or other submerged obstacle you will know that there is an almighty thump and the whole boat shakes and judders. While such hard groundings seldom result in catastrophic keel failure, something has to give and even the sturdiest keels can easily be damaged by such an impact.

How to trim a genoa sail

I recently had two new sails made by Sanders Sails, based in Lymington UK. The first to arrive was the new genoa and it took me a little while to get to know it and learn how to adjust it correctly. Here is an aide memoire for getting to know how to trim a genoa so that it will deliver the best performance.

Anchoring – getting it right is not always straightforward

If you can set an anchor correctly with confidence and know your boat will be safe in a secure anchorage, then you can rest...

Boat maintenance below decks

While most interior maintenance work can be done when a boat is afloat, some jobs such as servicing the seacocks have to be done ashore. It makes sense to do any major interior repairs and improvements with the boat hauled out in the boatyard.

Sailing to windward – how to take advantage of wind shifts

For most sailors, sailing upwind is the most exhilarating point of sail as you tack your way to your destination. Sailing to windward is a bit like zig-zagging your way up a mountain road through a series of hairpin bends – great fun but also calling for concentration and hard work.

Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

Essential yacht tender safety - the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all too easily...

Marine engine oil system maintenance

The regular maintenance of a marine diesel is key to preventing engine failure at sea. This means doing regular checks of the fuel, cooling, electrical and oil systems.

VHF DSC radio – how best to communicate at sea

There are many ways to communicate with others at sea. What makes the VHF DSC radio the best form of short range...

Tips and advice for staying safe on a sailboat at sea

Here we focus on how to stay safe on a sailboat at sea. We cover key things to ensure you have on board before you set sail as well as covering the most common cause of incidents on sailboats and how to deal with them.

Essential Knots: Sheet bend

Essential Knots: Sheet bend Use: Joining two ropes together. A sheet bend is particularly useful for joining two ropes of different...