Hi Rodger & starboard,
the situation with starboard, and pretty much every other major
manufacturer using vent plugs and o rings to water proof their board is- to be honest, a real disapointment.
the humble vent plugs design is constantly overlooked when it comes time each year, for each manufacturer to put out their latest and greatest technological sailboarding marvell. the vent plug and its basic design comprising a screw compressing a rubber o ring onto a rough moulded plastic surface/seat. continues to remain unchanged year after year.
its high time starboard (and the other players) started using some of that word, we see splashed across the top of its literature....innovation... and come up with a better, more user friendly solution.
the problem that sailors have with boards leaking through the oring/vent screw is usually either the o ring being damaged or the seat it compresses against being rough or damaged thus creating a flaw in the seal.
the very action of screwing against the o ring creates wear on the surface of the ring. 1 solution to minimise this wear is to lubricate the o ring, how ever this can create problems as well- it can cause the o ring to 'spread'within the area between the screw and the seat thus leaving small gaps for water to be sucked into the board. it must be remembered that not only gravity but a lack of air pressure within the board is working against us here.
this is not rocket science.... the use of the rubber oring in this application is completely... WRONG... the better sealing method would be a fibre washer as you suggested, but as you have already said they are not all that easy to find.
i apologise if this seems like a rant but here in a hot climate which oz is well known for, the vent in a board must be removed- especially if the board is in a vehicle. if a normal summers day reaches 35-40deg c then the inside of a parked car will be aproaching 60 deg or more.
as some one who works every day with orings and washers and the like, i think i have a reasonable understanding of how and why they work.so i am tuned to whats happening with my gear, but i worry about those who blindly screw their vents in with no idea if its water tight.
anyway thats my 2 cents worth.... a challenge for starboard
p.s just on that word...innovation... a New Zealand Manufacturer by the name of carbon art use a 'gortex' vent on their boards.......