Categories: Boating

My Boat Almost Sunk Last Night – Don’t Let This Happen to You!

The title of today’s blog is 100-percent accurate, and my boat really did almost sink. After a heavy rainstorm last night I swung by the marina this morning, and she was listing hard to starboard with one of the scuppers slurping up water as the boat rose and fell on the tiniest ripples. I don’t know how much longer I had, but certainly not too long, before the slurps became gulps and I would have had real damage on my hands.

If you look really closely, you may be able to spot why my boat almost sunk.

Naturally, the first thing I did when I got to the boat was I flipped on the bilge pumps. Oddly, they worked for just a few seconds, before the bilges were dry. Then it hit me: the boat hadn’t taken on water in the bilges, but my exceptionally large fishboxes – which hold about 120 gallons, or over 1,000 pounds of water-weight – must be the issue. Sure enough, I lifted the lid of the starboard box and it was filled to the brim. The port side box also had some water in it, and was maybe half full. As the weight drew the scuppers down to water-level and water was now slowly going into the bilge and then being pumped out, it would have just been a matter of time before the batteries died and the bilges filled, too.

So, what the heck had happened? I tried blasting my washdown hose through the fishbox drain, but the water bubbled right back up – it was completely clogged. Then I took a piece of wire, and used it to ream out the drain. When the clog broke, a handful of tiny wood shavings floated out. Then I looked around, and noticed more wood shavings piled up in the corners of the boat. I sat there scratching my head for quite a while, before I noticed the dock. The marina had been working on it for the past few weeks, and I could see how someone had taken a saw and run it along the edges of the boards, to give them a bit of a bevel and knock down the sharp edge. That was a nice thought, but it came darn close to sinking my boat!!

The moral of this story? Truth be told, if someone at your marina decides to do something like this you’ll probably never know about it. And the same type of clog can be caused by falling leaves, insect nests, and other detritus. This is true for boats on trailers, too, which are often even more susceptible to leaves and garbage blowing into the boat. And although a trailer boat won’t sink on dry land, you certainly don’t want to discover it’s full of water the next time you’d like to go fishing. So the bottom line is that no matter where you keep your boat, even though it should be fine after a big rainstorm, and even though it probably is, it never hurts to take a quick look after the skies clear.

Lenny Rudow: