After a week of hard, hard work the shaft has finally come out!!
First, we had to get the bolts holding the coupling to the thrust bearing out. After sitting upside down with my head in the bildge for a day, about 50 bruises, scrapes, and an unfortunate smashed finger they finally let go.
Second, the bellows of the dripless sealing system had to come off (looks like a small accordion that puts pressure on a movable seal to keep the water out from around the shaft). Because it’s time to replace the bellows this was the easiest to remove, I just cut it off with some large scissors. Then we had to get all the other bits of the dripless moving around so we could slid the shaft out a bit to create space to work on the coupling.
Two broken gear pullers later, we realized we were going to have to get a more sturdy custome made puller. The coupling hasn’t been removed in 8 years and it was securely stuck in place. Luckily, the yard manager has a friend who could do this. He came with very large tools, a home made coupling puller, muscle and determination. After two days of heating, cooling, lubrication, swearing and lots of sweat, the coupling finally came off, and the shaft slid right out!