|The Short Story…
I had intended to make several improvements to the propeller shaft system prior to leaving on my cruise in 2010 but I ran out of time and money before these projects could be done.
I have read several times that a sailor is never totally ready to leave on a cruise and if you wait until you are then you will probably never leave the dock! So, late in June 2010, with a number of items still on my “to do” list, I cast off the dock lines and hoped for the best!
Well, I made the trip without any major incidents and in the spring of 2012 I finally got these improvement projects completed.
|PSS Shaft Seal – this system replaced the original packing gland and grease injector system on the propeller shaft. It works perfectly and keeps the bilge clean and dry as a bone. Note: this image was copied from the PSS Shaft Seal website because I am unable to take a very good photo of my own installation. (http://www.shaftseal.com)|
|Here is a photo of the original shaft seal/greaser system after it was removed from Ananda. The grease cartridge on the left was installed inside the first step down from the pilothouse to the aft cabin. The “T” handle in the photo is shown upside down but in the actual installation the “T” handle is on the top and handy to reach. That’s where the convenience ended!|
|Drivesaver – this system actually serves two purposes: 1) it protects the transmission and engine if the propeller strikes and immovable object or if the propeller gets a line wrapped around it that is strong enough to stop the propeller from turning and, 2) because the system is plastic it isolates the propeller shaft from the transmission and engine thereby reducing the potential for electrolysis. (http://www.globecomposite.com/Marine_Products_Drivesaver)|
|Spurs Line Cutter – this system will cut fishing lines and buoy float lines that could prevent the propeller from turning. It also protects the cutlass bearing from fishing lines. The cost of this system is less than one haul out so it is a very worthwhile investment. (http://www.spursmarine.com)|
(Note: I have included a few links to the websites for the companies mentioned in this posting. I receive no compensation for doing this. My sole motivation is as a satisfied customer – Wally MacKinnon.)
|The Long Story…PSS Shaft Seal, Drivesaver and Spurs Line Cutter
When we bought Ananda in late in 2006 the previous owner and the boat surveyor gave me some instructions regarding the propeller shaft packing system that was originally installed by the boat builder. It consisted of a packing gland and a greasing system. The greaser had to be filled by hand – an incredibly messy job – and then the handle on the grease reservoir had to be rotated at least one turn each time before leaving the dock. The turning action would force a small amount of grease through the line connected to the packing gland. The grease would help to lubricate the propeller shaft and aid in making a water-resistant seal between the shaft and the packing.This system worked reasonably well but it was messy to maintain, made the bilge a greasy mess, dripped water and grease constantly into the bilge and resulted in oily water being pumped overboard whenever the bilge pump ran – which, of course, is not a good thing at all.
Every spring prior to launching Ananda I would mop the bilge dry and then wash it down as best as I could with a strong grease-cutting soap solution. This helped a lot but did not totally resolve the problem – especially as each boating season wore on and more grease was injected into the propeller shaft packing gland.
I endured this setup during my cruise through the Great Lakes, down the St. Lawrence River and into the Maritimes and the Bay of Fundy – but by the time I had reached my destination I was fed up with the mess and stress of pumping oily bilge water overboard. It was now time to come up with a better arrangement.
I stored Ananda at Moose Island Marine, a boatyard in Eastport, Maine (http://www.mooseislandmarine.com/). This boatyard does a wide range of work on boats and serves both commercial and pleasure craft owners. I expressed my concern to boatyard owner Dean Pike and he recommended installing a PSS Shaft Seal system. Dean had installed a number of these units on sail, power and commercial fishing boats. Every installation worked out fine and the owners had been using them for years with no problems or maintenance issues.
Dean said he would prepare a quote for me and recommended that if the work was to be done then it would be a good idea to also take a close look at the cutlass bearing and the rudder shaft. This made sense because the rudder would have to be removed in order to complete the other work. I also expressed concern to Dean about encountering lines from lobster traps, etc. as I continued my travels. We had had a pretty stressful time coming through the Northumberland Strait in 2010. Our first day in the Strait was also the first day of lobster season there & we could not believe how many traps were on the water. It seemed at times that if the floats would have been large enough that you would be able to use them to walk from the boat to the shore.
Dean suggested that I install a Spurs line cutter system and also a Drivesaver system. The Spurs line cutter would take care of most underwater lines that I was likely to encounter and the Drivesaver would protect the transmission if the propeller struck a solid/immovable object or if a really heavy line got wrapped around the propeller and could not be cut but the Spurs setup. Because the main component of the Drivesaver is plastic, it also provided the added benefit of isolating the engine and transmission from the propeller shaft – to reduce electrolysis.
I had intended to re-launch Ananda in the spring of 2011 but I ended up taking a slight (9-month) diversion to a work-related project in Kuwait (that’s another story) so the upgrades were delayed until the spring of 2012. While I missed my sailing season in 2011 I at least had the ability to earn more money to pay for the upgrades and put a whole lot more $$ in the cruising kitty. Not such a bad deal after all.
I used the PSS Shaft Seal, Drivesaver and Spurs Line Cutter from 2012 until I sold the Ananda in 2016 and each system performed perfectly (touch wood). I am especially happy with the PSS Shaft Seal because there is no more greasy mess and the bilge stays completely dry!
An added footnote: we changed the cutlass bearing (even though it was judged to be OK for several more years to come) and the rudder shaft and seal were in excellent condition so no further work was required on them other than a slight clean up and lubrication.