Well, it's a lot less bad than I anticipated. Two sailing companions and I, by removing the restraints on the rudder shaft and twisting the rudder back & forth, managed to get the rudder down to the ground, thereby exposing about half of the shaft (made of aluminum, it turns out). Happily, it was NOT bent. But the lower self-aligning bearing (inside an aluminum housing bonded into the hull) was encrusted with dried marine contamination, and locked in place. We believe there to be some calcium deposits as well, locking the bearing.
Photos are at:
Joujou Dufour 32's photosets on Flickr
The self-aligning bearings are made by JP3 Steering Systems, another French company, and used by Dufour. The JP3 web site:
Which one ?
For a really cool animation of how the self-aligning bearing removes, see:
A few days later I had the sailboat raised two feet higher by the marina’s travel lift, letting us slip the rudder shaft out completely.
Using stiff brushes with metal and soft abrasive cleaners, we removed as much visable dirt from the bearing and housing as possible where we could manage to reach. Next step was to loosen the bearing. We sprayed Oxi-clean solution plus Fantastic cleaner with Oxi-clean up into the rudder tube, trying to get the liquid to loosen the bond between the bearing and the aluminum housing. Then with a stick of wood and a hammer, we tried to nudge the edge of the bearing, hoping it would start to rotate (so we that could eventually remove it). With thirty minutes of effort, it moved a hair. Very frustrating.
Next steps: Order a Shaw plug (Snap-tite 2-3/8" x 1-3/16" Expandable Rubber Plug) to plug the hole in the bearing. Fill the rudder tube with Oxi-clean solution. Then wait a few days. Try again to loosen the bearing. Maybe nudge it with a metal pipe just under the 60mm hole diameter in size. If not successful, try again with distilled vinegar, thinking it may dissolve the calcium that could be locking the bearing.