FROM THE BoatU.S. INSURANCE FILES By BoB AdriAnce
WHY BOATS SINK IN THE SPRING
Make sure your boating season doesn’t start with a thunk!
The sound of your beloved hitting the bottom …
THE BOAT WAS SITTING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SLIP. “When they looked at it, they said the battery was dead. I don’t know hat happened. Maybe the float switch got stuck.” It doesn’t seem fair, but just as the boating season was about o get underway, the skipper described above drove to his
marina and found his 20-foot runabout resting on the bottom. Not only did
he have to start the boating season by filing an insurance claim (and paying
the cost of the deductible), he probably had to
wait until well into the season to begin boating
because boatyards are slower to make unscheduled repairs during the spring outfitting rush.
Blaming a sinking on a float switch is like blaming your
stomach ache on a fork. True, bilge pumps can prevent a
sinking, at least until the battery dies, but the real question
in a sinking is, where did the water come from? More to the
point, why didn’t someone visit the boat occasionally and
check the bilges?
battery — and the bilge pump — may go
dead. With the pump knocked out and
an owner who thinks the boat can take
care of itself, water begins to accumulate.
In this case, the boat sank because of a
combination of heavy spring rains, a large
open cockpit, and a deck drain that badly
WhAT The heck hAppened?
Most likely the boat (right) sank when a hose that had been
securely attached last season was taken off to winterize the
engine. With all the attention going to the engine – ls pink
stuff coming out the exhaust? – the hose clamp was overlooked. Here are five other possibilities:
1. Heavy spring rains can get through poorly caulked
ports, hatches, chainplates, and deck fittings. Water can
“pool” on deck if scuppers become clogged by leaves in
the fall, which then makes the problem worse. On many
boats with low freeboard, the boat only needs to sink a
few inches before outlets — scuppers and exhaust ports
— become inlets.
2. All too often, the owner is unaware of leaks because
the automatic bilge pump dutifully kept the bilge dry
during the warmer months. Over the winter, however, the
neVer ATTeMp T To chArge A frozen BATTery. To AVoid exploSion And SerioUS injUry,
Allo W i T To WArM To 60˚f (16o˚c) Before chArging.