You need to haul out to do the stuffing box properly. If there's a bearing or shaft issue, it's all problematic. There's nothing wrong with grounding the shaft with a brush. If it had been done in the first place this issue would have not been as traumatic. it's a boat get over it. Sometimes you have to pull without a moments notice; this is one of those times.
Yet, another country heard from! Kinda missed my point. I had decided to replace the stuffing box and have no problem hauling if I need to. In fact, I was fully prepared to haul if my diver said "Replace it in the water? Are you nuts?" Though, based on some of the responses, I was somewhat reluctant to even motor it to a yard! However, he said, "no big deal, see it all the time". I consider him conservative, he's not one to take short cuts or risks.
So, I'm simply bewildered by the variety of opinions and information I've received on a fairly basic issue. Everything from, "don't tap it, it might shatter and sink the boat" or "boats go forty years without a brush and don't look like this", or "if it had a brush, it wouldn't be this traumatic (I'm not "traumatized", just confused BTW)" or "put some grease on it, it'll be fine!".
As always, I'm grateful for the input. However, the range of these opinions, and other information I've obtained (The trany fluid theory didn't make sense to me BTW, but what do I know?!) is rather startling! I mean...we're not talking String Theory here!
So, thanks for identifying it as a "boat". I wasn't sure about that. However, please don't tell me to "get over it". Hauling when needed is prudent. Unnecessarily hauling is simply stupid! I'd just love to be on the hard and have the yard mechanic say "why are you replacing this?"