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On the boat front, Rebecca and I have been having a few “challenges.” While there were numerous things that we expected to have to deal with on a 30+ year old boat, we have also been thrown a couple of curve balls, issues that we were not made aware of at the time of the survey. Because of that, for more than the past week, we have been living in a total state of disarray. For someone like me who does not do well with clutter to begin with, having to live on a boat with it torn apart is frustrating, to say the least.


One of the issues that we’re looking to solve involves our rudder shaft. While inspecting the boat before purchase, I took note of a bit of water in an area adjacent to the rudder post. I was told by the seller that that little bit of water, a few inches deep, had accumulated over a period of months. We learned during the delivery trip home that this was definitely not the case, whether the previous owner knew about it or not. In fact, when underway, there is a fairly consistent drip of water from the top of the rudder post. After it raises to a certain level, it flows through a locker and into the bilge. Fortunately, at anchor, the leak stops.

While studying the situation with a friend, we came to the realization that the rudder post has a type of stuffing box, and there is a large nut that, in theory, could be tightened to compress the packing material inside, hopefully stemming that flow of water. That is, if everything was working as it should. Sadly, in our case, it is not.

Looking at it from inside the boat, it appears as if the entire rudder post stuffing box has come unattached from the boat, rotating as the rudder shaft turns. It may be that the top bearing has seized onto the shaft. As you can imagine, this is a much more significant problem, and one that I believe can not be repaired without hauling the boat, and removing the rudder.

Were we prepared for this? No, but it is what it is. Boats are boats. We’ll deal with it. I will say that if this was the only challenge that we were having, life would be grand. Oh well. Everyone we speak to keeps telling us how great of a boat an Amel Maramu is so, as tough as it is, we’re trying to remain positive.

To recharge our mental batteries, we’re taking a holiday today. Rebecca and I, along with 20 or so other cruisers, are heading up island to go tubing!


  1. Hi Guys yes life does throw curve balls at times may I suggest a heat gun this will allow the bearing to expand before the shaft does & you will be able to remove the bearing or sleeve from your steering shaft.
    This one of many use full items you need on a boat do not use any kind of naked flame in the hull area it can be well lets say the boat would go up in flames.
    cheers Mal see you on the big Blue soon I hope

  2. Hang in there, sending happy thoughts and good mojo your direction!

  3. That is “interesting” as the saying goes. Great if Amel help, it makes a big difference if the builder is still in business and willing to help. Also it is wonderful to see that you have a diagram of the rudder setup. I have never had that luxury!

    All the best with it. And happy tubing too 🙂


  4. Have the best time tubing! I think the ” it happens in 3 ‘s” means 3 times, not 3 times 3!! I am just glad you figured this out now, not in the middle of the ocean!

  5. Timing sounds perfect for some tubing!

  6. Tim and Sandy Canuck

    Sorry you are having these issues. THANK you for providing years of posts of how you dealt with such a variety of problems!! Helps us all from re-inventing the rudder. Er…wheel.

  7. Best move to make, take a step back, fresh air and return with more focus……I wish you luck…Ahhh boats….certainly feel your pain!

  8. Is the top of the rudder post above or below the waterline? cannot see from the drawing, you may be able to do it in the water! the leak could be from compression under load.

  9. If you are out of the water, there’s not much that epoxy/glass cannot fix on that boat… just make sure everything is aligned when you pour/stuff the glass mix… and remember prep is the key… make sure there is good bonding surface for the fix…. and do it in stages, maybe 1/4 to 3/8 inch at a time so it doesn’t build up too much heat…. I use 4:1 west system on just about everything I do…. take it one step at a time and have fun…. It could always be worse….

  10. It will get better! We are dealing with HVAC issues with our house. It’s a brand new house! To get back grounded again we’ll take a boat ride tonight on Chesapeake. It’s amazing how the water takes that stress away.

  11. Mike, if the stuffing box is actually rotating in the ‘glass, it’s doing more damage with each turn of the rudder. I would back the packing nut off all the way and see how much of the old packing you can dig out — it’s possible the nut was over-tightened against old, dry packing. Even though freeing up the packing gland would not be the entire fix, if you could stop the box from rotating you would minimize further damage.

    The ultimate repair for this no doubt involves removing the stuffing box from the inside of the boat, grinding out the damaged fiberglass, and glassing the box back in. Given the whole thing is three decades old, if you’re going to have to re-glass it, now might be the time to consider a new packing gland as well. They’re not cheap — the size for our boat is in the neighborhood of US$1k.

    Our gland has a lantern ring and a zerk fitting for marine grease. When properly adjusted there is no leakage into the boat with this style. FWIW.

  12. Mike, I know boats can be challenging but just last night I had to sit through the republican debate. If that wasn’t bad enough I had to mow the grass at both our house and the two lots we are getting ready to build on. So buck up and enjoy the challenges your new boat throws at you. It could be worse:-).

  13. We rebuilt a Cal 246 that was 35 years old when we got it. Fortunately we chose not to live on IT during the 9 month process. We refused a survey because nothing on the boat worked anyway. The original owner had not used it in years. We had several pieces of good advice. First, we worked continuously but took off every 4th day . Second, the little guy on Namaste told us “Do it right or do it AGAIN.” He was right of course. Third EVERYTHING on a boat breaks, it is only a question of when. Keep these in mind and be patient. Do one job at a time. If you are in a hurry, why are you on a sailboat?
    You made a great choice with the Amel. Enjoy the ride, all of it. By the way, after 20,000 miles BLUE is being enjoyed by new owners in Tacoma. We love staying in touch with them.

    Dick and Maureen

  14. Hi Mike, Going back in time here but I was wondering if you had any advice for those thinking of / buying a boat.

    You had Frost surveyed by a professional and crawled around looking at things yourself.
    Rigging check is also important on an older boat if it hasn’t been re-rigged recently.

    Was there anything you would have done differently with Frost to avoid some of the issues you found and had to deal with after the deal went through (stuffing box / water heater etc etc). There are over 1000 systems / connections / points of failure on a boat and as one commentator said, things break on a boat – is there more you could have done or asked during the purchase process? Is it possible to ask for the present owner’s To-Do list (because every boat has one!)

    Thanks for your time and all of your posts, they are really interesting and informative!

    • Ahhh… such a difficult question.

      First and foremost, it’s important to realize that surveyors are only human. They can and do make mistakes! There are also good ones, and not so good ones. If you don’t have the skills to evaluate a boat yourself, you’d better find someone who does. I would get referrals before hiring any surveyor.

      Is it possible to ask for the seller’s to-do list? Why not? You can ask for whatever you want. I’d keep in mind though that not everyone selling a boat may be completely honest about all of their vessel’s shortcomings.

      Just yesterday a friend who was considering a Maramu asked for my list of things to check. Fortunately for him, and for anyone shopping for a similar boat, ALMOST everything has been documented on our site. I have learned soooo much. As they say, it’s better to learn from other’s mistakes than to make them yourself.

  15. Thanks so much for your quick reply! Another of those impossible questions.

    Yes referrals for a surveyor would go a long way. And learning from others failures, and successes too, goes a long way as we tread the path others have forged before – thank you for all of your contributions! Once our daughter is a little older (5 months now) we hope to take the plunge and dive in, because at some stage you have to do that.

    I trust that you will have a quick sale of Frost, if that is the route you take, with all your loyal readers and your openess about her. We all know about your great security features too 😉

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