Join Date: Apr 2006
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Yeah, not a big thing as long as you can pump faster than she leaks. Honestly, it is a good thing to be paranoid about leaks but also a fine line not to be TOO paranoid about them. Like, folks who won't pull the knotmeter impeller because water gushes in when they do that. (OK, it's a pint or two of water, but only for five or ten seconds.)
Ideally you'd repack the shaft when the boat was on dry land. Bowing to paranoia, you can also ask the yard for an overnight haul, where they'll sometimes just lift you out of the water and let it hang in the lift overnight, so you can pack the shaft and drop it back in. (Or a "lunch lift" for an hour, which is all it needs if you have an experienced guide with you.)
But you can also do this in the water: Just take a toilet seal, which is a very large bees-wax donut placed under a toilet to seal it to the waste pipe, and pack that around the outside of the shaft under the boat. Water pressure will keep it in place and plug any leak while you are working, and the wax is a lubricant so you don't have to clean it up afterwards, just recover the excess wax for future use.
You can repack with GoreTex packing instead of the cheap stuff, and you'll have a better seal that also is less abrasive--well worth the extra $10 for it.
The gamble is that all you need is repacking or tightening the packing. If the shaft is scored, you can repack it and "make do" for a while but really should pull the shaft for repair/replacement if that's the problem. Odds are it is not, and you just have a seal that is worn/dried out and only needs some tightening. But by repacking it, you are also inspected and updating something that's important on the boat, and then you can RELY on it instead of just guessing what shape it is in.
Packing isn't complicated--just needs to be done carefully, neatly, in a place that isn't easy to reach or see on most boats.