Dripless Shaft Seal

The stuffing box is difficult to reach and inconvenient to repack or retighten. This has lead manufacturers to create a mechanical seal that keeps the water out while allowing the prop shaft to rotate. Many people have installed these, and mostly they love them.

I've got my reservations, as a failure on one of these devices may be sudden and catastropic. I prefer to use a high-tech packing material (along with standard flax) to give me a no-drip stuffing box that fails slowly and gracefully.

I'll leave it to a fan of these mechanical seals to write a description of these units and their advantages. Also see Dripless Shaft Seals Have Advantages by Terry Johnson for a good description of these seals, and some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Offshore Sailing book cover Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr

We went to a Windjammers lecture to hear Bill Seifert and I was impressed enough to buy the book on the spot. I've heard a lot of people talk about ways to improve a boat, but I've never heard one person suggest so many good ideas that I hadn't considered. Part of the charm is the specificity of the suggestions. Everyone says you should secure your floorboards, hatchboards and batteries. Bill shows good suggestions on how to do so.

The suggestions are very practical for the do-it-yourselfer, too. Many show how to make or adapt inexpensive solutions. Tip #12 on closing the deck blower vents is one that will pay off for me without ever going offshore. I'll implement that one to stop the wintertime storms from finding their way belowdecks.

Besides modifications, the book also includes advice for operating offshore, cooking, boat selection, dealing with bureaucracy, and more.

Bill Seifert has worked at Tartan, TPI, and Alden Yachts. He's a veteran of many Marion-Bermuda races and now runs his own yacht management company. His tips are born of experience--not of book-learning--and it shows. He obviously knows his stuff.

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