Every spring, shortly after being launched and commissioned for the season, boats sink while safely tied up at the dock, turning what should be a good time of the year into a disaster.
According to BoatU.S. Marine Insurance claim files, for every boat that sinks underway, four boats sink in their slips. There are two reasons for this discrepancy. One reason is whenever a boat leaves the dock, someone is aboard, which leaves open the possibility that the leak will be discovered and the problem corrected before it sinks the boat. And, reason # 2, boats tend to spend a majority of their time at the dock.
The best defense against a dockside sinking? Visit your boat at least twice a season, inspect any fittings above or below the waterline that could be letting water into the boat. All too often, owners rely on bilge pumps to bail them out when they can’t visit their boats. The pump fails and the boat sinks. If you can’t visit your boat regularly, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners to watch each other’s boats.
BoatU.S., marine insurance claims also show important accident trends or lessons to learn. A study of the claims has identified the top five reasons for springtime sinking.
Top Five Reasons Why Boats Sink in the Springtime:
- Missing or damaged hose clamps: These clamps are often removed in the fall to winterize the engine, and then forgotten about in the spring when the boat is launched. Tight spaces in engine compartments make it difficult to see some unsecured or deteriorated clamps.
- Unsecured engine hoses: Over the winter, freezing water can lift hoses off seacocks (valves).
- Spring rains: Combine heavy rains with leaking ports, deck hatches, cracked or improperly caulked fittings, chain plates and even scuppers clogged by leaves and your boat could be on the bottom soon.
- Broken sea strainer: Glass, plastic and even bronze strainer bowls can be cracked or bent over the winter if not properly winterized, allowing water to trickle in when the seawater intake seacock is in the open position.
- Leaking stuffing box: If equipped, a steady drip from an improperly adjusted stuffing box (the “packing” around the prop shaft) has been known to swamp a boat.
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