There is nothing better than waking up to water. I mean not much water but any water in my boat is enough to tick me off. I woke up early this morning and took care of my emails and read some things online before moving into my daily routine. It was a couple of hours later that M.E. awoke and I was already a few Arizona green teas deep. I did my routine inspection of the bilge in the main cabin, popped my head out the hatch to look around (dinghy was still there) and told M.E. to check the engine room in the back bedroom.
M.E.: There is water back here Matt. You might want to take a look.
Matt: How much, like a cup full or so? (Just being lazy and not wanting to get off the couch)
M.E.: No, like a lot of water.
Damnit, I am up and headed to the bedroom. I look in the engine room and there is a GOOD amount of water. I rip the floor boards up and there is more water. This is a real shallow bilge area of the boat so it has to flood before it makes it down to the main bilges. I get a bucket, cut up a water bottle and tell M.E. to go to town bailing the water out. I rip the rest of the boat apart in the meantime. Seacocks, water tanks, hot water heater, fresh water lines and the keel bolts. Nothing. What did I miss? Where is the water coming in from? I head back to the bedroom again and there it is clear as day. The dripless shaft seal is apparently not so dripless anymore.
The shaft seal is dripping good. Not bad but good. I think for 30 seconds and decide the best form of action is going to be trying to burp it. I begin screwing with it and rotating it this way and that. Ah much better… now it’s dripping BAD. Not really dripping anywhere. More like a steady stream of saltwater entering the boat now. I loosen the bolt and wiggle, nothing. I rotate the shaft by hand clockwise and counter clockwise a few times, nothing. All this time M.E. is bailing with a cut in half water bottle next to me. I tried to rock the shaft aft and forward, nothing. My choice words are now echoing across the anchorage and my temper is beginning to flare. Get the hammer! This fixes everything and if not it will at least fully break the current problem. I decide to tap lightly on the shaft as the water pours in. Nothing once again. I am beginning to run out of options for a quick fix at this time. I started the engine and ran it hard in reverse and forward for a few minutes then went down below and played with the boot some more on the shaft. It began to slow back down to a trickle at least.
The nearest decent place to haul is roughly 130 miles away in Deltaville. I decided while it dripped and M.E. bailed I would ask my best friend how to fix the problem…Google. This guy knows everything. There were thousands of opinions on dripless couplers. I tried them all with what I had on hand to no prevail. My last option was to take a straw, pack it with grease, squeeze the straw into the coupler joint and then squeeze out all the grease.
I ran up to Washington Marine to get the grease and get to work. I pumped about 5 straws full of grease into the fitting. Rotated a few times, ran the engine a little while, rotated and pumped more grease in and it slowed down to a minor drip.
We gave it a couple of hours to see if this would solve the problem. During this time, M.E. made homemade chicken pot pie and chicken soup, along with some brownies. Incredible! Nothing makes you feel better under stressful circumstances than delicious food! After dinner, we ran up to the club to wash clothes and take some quick showers before stopping by our friend, Rob’s, to check out his boat.
By the time we got back to the boat the leak had stopped all together. I can at least pass out now with some peace of mind.