12 March 2007

Drip Drip Drip

10.15 on a Saturday night
And the tap drips
Under the strip light
And I'm sitting
In the kitchen sink
And the tap drips
Drip drip drip drip drip drip drip drip

-The Cure (early Cure before they sold out with Love Cats)

Umm, yeah, that's sailing related. Sure it is. It is when you're freakin' stuffing box starts leaking. Drip drip drip. A drip a second doesn't sound like much but that's about a drip per second more than it's supposed to when the prop shaft isn't turning.

I, of course, panicked. And made sure the bilge pump was working but that's not this story. This story is about my repair prowess. See, I have stuffed packing tape before but it was a case of "put this in here and please do it before the boat sinks". That kind of pressure I can deal with. The pressure of looking at a stuffing box and wondering which part is which and which direction to turn what and what happens if the wrong thing rotates is a whole other story.

After a week of letting the drip go and trusting my bilge pump, I made my way down to the marina to take care of business. I had done some research and knew that I had to back off the lock nut and tighten the packing nut and re-tighten the lock nut. What I didn't know was which was which and how to get these two supposedly separate items unseized. When I turned what I thought was the lock nut, all sorts of other things started turning. And more water was dripping. I would possibly call that a flow not a drip at this point.

I wanted no more of this boat-sinking activity. So I packed up shop and headed to the Berkeley Marine Center for some much needed advice and new packing tape. These guys saved my life, giving one piece of super secret professional advice and a demonstration of what was what and what to do with each.

Turns out I was attempting to sink the boat by tightening the packing nut with the lock nut still locked while my hose clamps weren't tight enough. I was, in effect, trying to wrench the whole shebang off the shaft. The extra pieces of packing tape were circa 1975 and could possibly have sawn my prop shaft in half if I'd used them.

It turned out to be an easy 5 minute job once I had the hands on description. I have my marching orders for how to actually put new packing tape in if needed. And, most importantly, my drip now sounds like " ". Beautiful silence indeed.

5 comments:

"Raps" said...

Nothing feels better than the satisfaction of a job well done. keep that boat afloat! You have races to win!

EVK4 said...

As the great racer Paul Cayard once told me: "Sinking is slow". Or maybe it was Bernard Moitessier, I always forget.

Brendhan said...

It's a credit to our friendship that despite not understanding a single thing in the last two paragraphs, I continued to read. I think you put those Cure references in to keep me coming back to the blog.

EVK4 said...

Here's a quick summary....

EK: "eeek, there's water in the boat"
toolbox comes out, hammering, swearing and odd mechanical noises come from inside the boat. EK runs stage left to a boatyard and is given great advice. EK heads back down into the boat, 5 minutes later comes back into the glorious sunshine with a big grin, declaring "the boat is dry, my work is done."

The Cure rocks. Just don't mix The Forest with any type of barbituate.

AdriftAtSea said...

Slow leaks can be a royal pain... and the packing gland shouldn't leak when the propshaft isn't turning as a general rule.