Stupid Things NOT to do on a Boat

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A lack of brainpower is often the cause of a sinking boat... at least in this case, they have life jackets on.

Is stupid had a per-gallon price, it would be something like $0.01. There’s lots of stupid to go around – too much – and you don’t even have to drill, frack, or even search very hard to find it. Darwin Award-level actions aside, on dry land it usually doesn’t get us into too much trouble. Unknowingly drain the transmission fluid out of your car, for example (been there), and you’ll end up walking, not drowning. Forget to tighten the lug nuts after changing a wheel (done that), and you’ll end up skidding to a halt, not sinking. But on a boat? Stupidity gets magnified. Here are stupid three things people do, which we’d all like to clear steer of.

sinking boat

A lack of brainpower is often the cause of a sinking boat… at least in this case, they have life jackets on.

1. Sinking – Painting an aluminum boat with anti-fouling paint has to be a top contender for some sort of stupid award. But lots and lots of people manage to sink their boats this way. Here’s how it works: simply fail to remember that copper and aluminum can set up an excellent electrolytic reaction, and paint your boat’s bottom with a copper-based anti-fouling paint. Within three seasons, you’ll put your foot right through the hull merely by standing up. This is not, of course, the only stupid way to sink your boat. You can find more in Seamanship Disasters: 3 Stupid Ways to Sink Your Boat.

2. Destroying your Outboard – The common way one accomplishes this feat is to start it up on land, without a sufficient cooling water supply. Most people know not to run the engine for extended periods this way, but only the less-stupid among us know that running dry for even a moment or two is an extremely bad idea. The reason why is that the water doesn’t just act as a coolant, it also acts as a lubricant for your water pump impeller. Start it up dry and that impeller will be spinning away, grinding up against all the residual salt, crud, and sand that was left behind when the water drained away. Wait a sec – doesn’t that merely mean you’ve killed the impeller, and not the entire outboard? Sure. Now guess how many people discover the death of their water pump miles from the boat ramp… and try running all the way home, anyway.

3. Hitting Things – big, hard things, like fixed markers, inlet rip-rap, and other boats. The cause here is inattentiveness as much as pure stupidity, but considering the end result, aren’t they one in the same? The bottom line: any time you’re behind the wheel of a moving boat, you need to pay 100-percent attention to what’s going on. Nuff said.

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