No matter how bad an idea might be, sooner or later someone will probably try it. Case in point: putting plastic cleats on a 20′ or larger fiberglass boat. Sure, plastic can do the job on a very small or very light boat, but on a larger, heavier fiberglass rig… But that one’s so obvious, we’re not even going to count it.
Here are three other things you do NOT want to see on your next boat.
- Ping-pong ball scupper valves. These things seem like a great idea, right up until a twig or a leaf gets caught between the ping-pong ball and the rubber it mates against. Or algae grows on one part or another, and messes up the seal. Or aging takes place, and the rubber deforms a bit. In most cases these scupper valves are used where a self-bailing deck isn’t quite high enough and as a result, the scuppers have to be located below the waterline. Well, it’s a band-aid type of fix, at best, and when you see this on a boat you should be aware that this type of scupper valve rarely holds out the water for long. Same goes for the flappers. Truth be told, when a scupper dips below the waterline there simply is no good solution to keeping the water out.
- Vertically-mounted masthead light receivers. These are so common it’s tough to get away from them. But it’s also tough to get them to last more than a season or two, especially in saltwater. The vertical opening collects and holds water (the protective caps rarely do much actual protecting for very long) and the connections sitting at the bottom deteriorate rapidly. A fixed-mount, hard-wired masthead light is much better, if you have the option of installing one.
- Seats with machine screws running vertically through a mount and up into the seat itself. I don’t care how high quality the seat may be, and how tight you make those screws, they will eventually come loose. Not only do they have to contend with the vibrations endemic to boats (which are utterly fantastic at loosening screws), they’re also exposed to shifting and racking when a heavy person in the seat leans one way, and then the other. It’s shocking how common it is to see seats mounted this way, and it’s a future problem, guaranteed. Through-bolts and nylock locking-nuts are the only real solution.