Skip to content

I Fixed It!

Yeah I know, I'm the one who broke it in the first place, but I fixed it!

The other day in La Conner while approaching the fuel dock, I set myself up poorly. Not familiar with (or prepared for) the intricacies of the current in Swinomish Channel, I left our moorage at the marina and headed over to get fuel prior to heading the rest of the way to Seattle. I started to dock with the current (wrong) and was fumbling while trying to regroup and spin around to dock against the current (recommended) and I did the thing…the thing I never thought I'd ever do: I broke/sheared the shear pin in the stern thruster. Well crap. Somehow I must have flipped directions too fast and so there ya go. No more stern thruster. Good things: (1) I don't normally use the thrusters when docking, and (2) A lot of boats don't even have stern thrusters. Bad thing: I was going to have to fix it. Booo. (The bow and stern thrusters on Airship are through-hull, and they allow you to move the bow and stern sideways, for maneuvering in tight spaces.)

Once we were in Seattle tucked in at Bell Harbor, we did a little investigating. The stern thruster is in the hull, back behind the drive shaft and PSS seal (remember those things?) and the access is from a hatch inside the back cupboard, underneath the microwave. Before removing the microwave, I stuck my head down the foremost hatch and with the flashlight, ascertained what model of thruster we had: Side Power SE40/125. Also, right on the thruster itself there was a label that said: 


That what I thought I remembered from poking around down there when we first bought the boat. Sweet! So out came the microwave, some bowls, the alcohol, and out came the tools.

Looking into the hatch after I'd removed the thruster motor (it's heavy):


This might give you a feel for the workspace:


Unfortunately but not surprisingly, we found that the previous owners of the boat (*cough cough* the dealer) had at some point used the spare and never replaced it. Awwww, fail! This is where it's supposed to be:


Broken shear pin. No spare.


So we started calling around. Fisheries Supply: special order only. Fisheries gave us a list of places to try and we started calling down the list: nope, nope, nope, nope. Our friend Sam (who was working the boat show) went up to the Side Power booth to see if they had any. They did not, but they suggested we call CSR Marine over at Shilshole Marina. We called them, and woohoo! They had one, and said for $20 it could be ours. (Shear pins are normally about 4 bucks, and CSR Marine did not usually sell to the public, but whatever, it would mean we could fix the thruster and put the salon back together today.)

New shear pin, installed:


Me, re-installing the thruster motor and the reconnecting the power to it:


Ta Da!!

(I wasn't going to buy a spare for $20, but we've got one ordered and we'll be sure to put it where it belongs for, um, next time?)


  1. Kevin McLaughlin Kevin McLaughlin

    Now is the opportunity to do the ship Canal! Yay! Unplanned journey due to breakdown of component!……Well, I tried to sell it. Scan Marine? I think they deal Wallas. The other alternative for backup heat, when underway, is an engine coolant circulating system, but putting in the heat exchanger blowers and routing more piping is a big deal. Maybe you have that system already?

    • We’re heading to Port Townsend and Scan Marine is overnighting us a new (and a spare) glow plug. Those guys are great. (Their sticker with contact info was on the Wallas…handy!) We have plenty of heat without the Wallas when we’re underway or when the generator is on (electric heat, heat from the engine). We should be fixed up and diesel heating again by tomorrow afternoon. 🙂

Comments are closed.