I’ve been thinking about the possibility of using a small air pump to create a slight pressure in the motor pod. This air pressure might do a couple of things:
Reduce friction. Instead of a lip seal, I might be able to use a simple nylon bushing with far less friction. With the pod pressurized, air will leak out instead of water leaking in through the bushing.
With a simple check valve/pressure relief valve on the bottom of the pod, the pressure will automatically clear any water that may get in the pod.
A small, DC aquarium air pump like the one below draws far less power than the lip seal consumes. This one operates at 1.8 Watts.
in my opinion, power loss from a shaft seal is acceptable. Having pressurized air to prevent leakage might work but way to complicated. Just fill the compartment completely with grease and no water will ever enter. it also reduces noise, keep it simple.
I have no experience with it except that it got stuck at University. Something like this: McMaster-Carr
With a rubber seal, the shaft rubs against the stationary seal which needs lubrication and a causes wear since shafts are not polished. Mechanical seals have two parts where one part is stationary and the other one is mounted to the shaft. The shaft is in contact with a rubber seal, but they don´t move relative to each others. The motion happens where both parts of the seal touch. Those surfaces are super polished and have very little wear. So you have metal rubbing on metal. (or ceramics) If I remember correctly.
One more thought, with good seals, you could pressurized the pod only occaisonally. Help keep water out, also help purge any water that happened to get in the pod. Electric pump or hand pump could do this occaisonal job.