Drip Drip

Our friend Chris Clark said, ‘If you don’t want to to fix your boat, live in a house.’

Chris taught us to sail Quest during a cold spring in the Solent. I was among the worst sailing students Chris confessed to teaching – until he told me to point at something. Well, yeah, I can do that, I thought. Then, I joined the list of Chris’s most improved students. Hehe.

I also will never forget the moment when Jack had finished puking over Quest’s stern on our training passage from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. Chris turned to him and said, ‘How are you going to cross the Atlantic?’ Double hehe. Cue more puking.

This time, we were about an hour away from Martinique. We could see the bright green of her eastern shore. Mangrove-y with lots of secret inlets and shallow reef. We were avoiding that bit.

Quest was pointing instead at the southern tip of Martinique. Round the corner and you’re in the big inlet that leads to St Anne’s anchorage and further into the yachtie city of Le Marin.

The reason Chris Clark’s boat-fixing saying was in our head was that we had just noticed another problem on our passage from Barbados. Leaky boat. Urghh. Not many problems more pesky than leaky boat problems.

It looks like we may have spent a little too much time not using Questie’s engine. I mean, pandemic and all – but still. Our propellor shaft seal – located under Delph’s hanging closet was drip-dripping into the bilges.

We’d had the shaft seal changed in Trinidad last September. We do it every year, or every time we lift Quest – as a matter of standard routine.

When we first bought Quest in 2013, the seal was leaking then. It had been packed with grease as a patch fix. We’d noted it with Chris on one of the first times we’d gone out. It was dripping pretty badly too, despite all the grease. The bilge had filled up worryingly.

We’d gone back to the dock and done the research. Our shaft seal is water-sealed – an American system by Tides Marine. It doesn’t need any grease.

Engineer Steve Jupp on the opposite pontoon had helped us fix it. We’d done it without lifting Quest – which was pretty ballsy. Steve Jupp cleverly used a zip-tie to tie on before the seal, which had helped to constrain the flow. Still, the flow was impressive. The system includes a spare shaft seal. He and Jack had cut the old one off, cleaned off the grease and slipped the new shaft seal on. All good in the end. Back out with Chris Clark.

Now the drip-drip has begun again. This time, Jack studied the pattern of drip, tightened the shaft seal and watched it drip harder. Oops. We’re thinking all that sitting on anchor has caused calcification on the shaft which is now interfering with the seal.

We opened the floor to the bilges and held our breaths. It was fine. No obvious rise of water. Luckily too, the anchorage was already in sight. The propellor shaft doesn’t leak when the engine is off. And two spare seals sit on the shaft, ready to replace.

Another job to do. If you don’t want to fix your boat, live in a house. Good advice from our friend.

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