I am hoping to do away with the rudder stuffing box.
My idea is to fiberglass in an extended rudder tube. The tube would run from the existing rudder shaft tube, to the underside of the cockpit and would be fully water-tight. I would like to make this modification, because it's the only reason I need to access the below cockpit area and I am hoping to fill the area below the cockpit with flotation foam. Further, no stuffing box is one less point of failure and leaks. Additionally, the entire tiller head base and rudder shaft would be greatly strengthened.
Here's an image of the plan - http://i.imgur.com/KRvJb.jpg
. The red lines indicate where the shaft tube will be extended. (Please excuse the old image as well as being slightly out of focus; it was the best image I had at this time. Also, I tried to attach an image of my plans, however it wouldn't allow me to upload.)
I don't really see why this plan wouldn't work. I'm wondering if I'm missing something. For example, perhaps the the stuffing box provides some kind of lubrication required for turning the rudder?