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Few events can ruin a day more than having your boat sink. The cost of repairing a boat that has sunk can be substantial and you will lose the use of the boat for several weeks while it is being repaired. Statistically, more boats sink while at the dock than while underway; boats tend to spend the majority of their time at the dock.

Causes of sinking are numerous; it is true that a large number of boats sink due to neglect. Featured Boat For Sale - BoatBrowser People often leave their boat at the marina for months without checking on it. Leaking stuffing boxes, outdrive bellows, deteriorated hoses or hose clamps are some of the most common causes. Here are some other common reasons why boats sink.

  • Drain hoses on self-bailing decks are a problem; they rot due to constant heat and the hoses break. Water from the deck that is supposed to go overboard is now running directly into the bilge until the boat is totally flooded.
  • Failure of a drain plug is another cause of sinking. Drain plugs are either snap type or screw type with center pins in both. Some steel pins rust and break allowing the plug to fall out and water to enter.
  • An improperly fitted cover can cause a dockside sinking. A cover that is intended to shed water can sometimes act as a water trap. Over time, the water weight sinks the craft. Fasten your cover evenly all around the hull with a rise in the center.
  • A frequent cause of boats sinking at dockside is re-using mooring lines that rot or chafe then break and allow the boat to float under the dock. Check mooring lines frequently and use new lines each season. Replacing lines is less costly than having a boat raised.
  • An incorrectly wired bilge pump can cause a boat to sink. If a hot side wire is spliced to the harness or hooked to an extra fuse on the dash, when the battery switch is turned off, power to the pump is cut. Run the hot wire directly to the plus side of the battery with a separate fuse.
  • Some manfacturers produce boats with a low transom. A design flaw can leave your transom too low and improper weight distribution can lower a transom to the point that waves can come over and flood the deck.

While bilge pumps help keep your boat afloat, they can also hide potential problems. The best way to keep your boat afloat is to inspect your boat often. Review the fittings above and below the waterline and all areas that could be letting water into the boat.

United Marine Underwriters is more than just boat insurance. Browse our Boats For Sale at BoatBrowser or our Lake Resource Guide at LakeBrowser or share your fishing stories and photos at True Fish Tales – the ones that did not get away.

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7 Responses to My Boat Sank

  1. Capt Fred says:

    Ball valves are superior to any others. When placing them on outlet drains, you should consider a float alarm or an additional automatic bilge pump in the event a drain plug fails or deck drain breaks. Hoses to cooling systems can also fail. Be sure to wire additional automatic pump DIRECT to the battery with a separate fuse.

  2. Martin Spalding says:

    I have installed a ball valve on the dock side of the fresh water system, very
    quick and easy to turn off when leaving,
    also gives a visual look if the water is on or off.

  3. Roger Bailey says:

    In my experience the most common way to sink a boat is by not checking the simple drains (lavatories, galley sink). When leaving a boat unattended, closing all the through hull stopcocks is a necessity, but often overlooked.

  4. Bruce Blackburn says:

    Leaving the city water valve on & leaving the dock is another good way to sink a boat
    Bruce Blackburn

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