Ask SAIL: Saildrive Conundrum

 My 35ft Cooper 353 sloop, Rhumb Line, has a Volvo MD2030 saildrive. The zinc between the saildrive and three-bladed folding Volvo-supplied propeller comes loose and rotates on the shaft.

Saildrive Conundrum

Q: My 35ft Cooper 353 sloop, Rhumb Line, has a Volvo MD2030 saildrive. The zinc between the saildrive and three-bladed folding Volvo-supplied propeller comes loose and rotates on the shaft. The zinc is secured to the saildrive housing by four(?) machine screws. They come loose and fall off after just a few hours of operation. This summer we logged about 70 hours over a five-week period, and the zinc was loose long before the summer was over. I have sought solutions from two local Volvo dealers and a boatyard. All of them say, “That’s the way it is.” The zinc begins to waste, and the screws fall off. One dealer says the solution is to replace the housing and admits this is a $2,000 repair job. I am reluctant to have a diver disassemble the prop to replace/reattach the zinc, and a haulout is several hundred dollars several times a year. I would hope a company as large as Volvo would have a redesign or engineering solution, none are apparent. Do you have any ideas? 

Tony Ford, Monore, WA 


I ran this issue past the technical folks at Volvo-Penta in Sweden. They had not heard of it before. They are wondering if the zincs have been secured without locking fluid on the fasteners or, even worse, with grease. In that case, the fasteners will work loose—they need to be locked in place (after a thorough cleaning if grease has been used). There are stainless steel Helicoil inserts (thread inserts) in the aluminum saildrive leg into which the zinc retaining bolts go. If the threads in the leg have been stripped off or damaged in any other way it may be possible to replace the Helicoil inserts, but if not, the suggestion is made to use 1/4in Powerlok self-tapping stainless steel machine screws. In conclusion, Volvo-Penta writes: “We are confident the above measures will cure this unusual problem. We wish the owner the best of luck.”

Got a question for our experts? Send it to



Eight Bells: Bob Fisher

Bob Fisher passed away at age 85 on Monday, according to a social media post from his daughter. “He lived his whole life to the fullest and shall leave the fondest of memories not only as a husband and father, [and] as a friend to all the sailing community in the UK, but to the more


Reeves Awarded CCA’s Highest Honor

The Cruising Club of America awarded Randall Reeves the 2020 Blue Water Medal for his solo Figure-8 voyage. The Figure-8 comprises a loop around the American continents and a loop around the Antarctic, keeping the Americas to port and Antarctica to starboard. The voyage was more


Book Review: Cruising Club of America, Great Lakes Station

Reviewed by Amanda Balasubramanian As we were preparing for our first significant offshore passage in 2013, I read every book on ocean sailing I could find. However, while there were a number of helpful books full of technical information, I also longed for the personal stories more


Gear: Henri Llloyd Fremantle Gear

Henri Lloyd looked to the past for inspiration when designing its newest line of racing gear—specifically the kit worn by Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes campaign (also designed by Henri Lloyd) during the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. The new collection, with its more

Suggested Crop

Ask Sail: When to Use a Vang Sheet

TO VANG OR NOT TO VANG Q: Last year, I bought a new, fully-battened Dacron main for my 36-footer. Unlike the old one, the new main is loose-footed. I have a mid-boom sheet arrangement and a traditional (non-rigid) vang. Is the vang really doing anything? It seems to me that more


Video: INEOS UK Advances to the Prada Cup Finals

On Saturday, in what was surely the most exciting race of the series, INEOS Team UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to earn a spot in the Prada Cup finals. The race was extraordinarily close, seeing shifty breezes, nine lead changes in just under 30 minutes and boatspeeds topping more


VIDEO: Sailing Not just for Millionaires

Sailing and boating can come with a hefty price tag, but there are plenty of ways to get on the water without breaking the bank. In this episode of Boat Talk, SAIL's managing editor Lydia Mullan and Power & Motor Yacht's executive editor Charlie Levine share tips on getting out more


Elcano Challenge Resurrected

In late 2020, sailing legend Jimmy Cornell set off on his Elcano Challenge, a green-powered circumnavigation aboard the custom Outremer Aventura Zero. Unfortunately, shortly after setting out, the boat encountered major power-generation issues. "I took the decision to turn more