The goal of any sailor worth his weight is to keep the water out. Water coming in above the water line is not quite as bad as water leaking in from below. Other sailors may have different tolerances for the amount of water that leaks in over time. Some measure the rate by bilge pump cycles per hour; others by “does that look damp to you” or “get your PFD on and grab the rum and a sandwich.”
Working against this worthy goal is the fact that sailors drill holes in our boats. We drill holes of various sizes for various reasons from installing speakers to hanging do dads. One of the open areas of interest and or concern is where the shaft exits the boat. There needs to be a device of some sort to seal the ocean from claiming your ship. Landlubbers may have heard talk about ‘stuffing boxes’ and the improper tightening of the stuffing. These stuffing boxes need to leak but just enough to keep the packing cool and not cut a grove in the shaft.
Fracas and I have chosen a more low maintenance no dripping solution. In 2014, before we left Little Current, I installed a PSS (packless sealing system) shaft seal. These seals are by PYI inc. and can be explored at www.shaftseal.com. These seals involve a bellows section of hose applying pressure to a stationary carbon ring that rubs against a stainless ring fixed to the moving shaft. Our previous PSS seal was installed in 2014 with the manufacturer recommending replacing the rubber components within 6 years of installation. My experience is things work right up to the point when they don’t. As this is beyond it’s life expectancy the prudent thing is to change it out.
Seems easy enough; remove the shaft and install the seal. They fail to mention that the majority of your body is inserted into the bilge. I’m not sure how many of you are growing older but I am. I notice that every year the ground gets further away and requires more and more effort and skill to reach and or get there. The other thing that happens is salt. Just being near the ocean allows the corrosive vapors, so every screw, bolt or g’dinger requires heroic measures.
There is another old axe, while your here you might as well… change the cutlass bearing. To make a long story short and to get to the boat on time this morning, the old bearing is out and the new one is in the freezer.