News flash: most of the time, when a boat sinks the owner has done something really, really stupid. Sure, some boats go down after being caught in a storm or because of mechanical failure, but most sinkings occur with the boat tied up “safely” at the dock.
You want to make sure your boat doesn’t fall victim to these brainless blunders? Of course you do! So remember:
#1. Never tie a boat up alongside a pier in such a way that any part of the boat can drift under the pier. If it does so as the tide is rising, the boat may become trapped in place. As the water grows higher and higher the boat can’t rise with it – you can guess the results.
#2. Don’t depend on bilge pumps for long-term drainage. If your boat doesn’t have a self-bailing deck, it shouldn’t be left in the water un-tended, period. And if it does have a self-bailing deck, you need to keep the scuppers clean and make sure they don’t become clogged with leaves, sticks, fish scales, and other detritis. Bilge pumps have one fatal flaw, in that they require electricity. Whether water enters your boat from the rain or from a leak, those pumps might keep it afloat for a matter of hours, but sooner or later the batteries will die.
#3. Always check and double-check to make sure you put in the drain plug… need we say more?!
Added extra bonehead boat-sinking blunders: stepping onto a through-hull fitting; yes, they can and do break. Installing a bilge pump, livewell outlet, or fishbox drain hose without adding an anti-siphon loop that goes well above the waterline; ever heard of back-flow? Leaving a livewell on overnight; if any fish or shrimp die and get sucked into the drain they can seriously restrict the flow… soon the well will be overflowing into the cockpit. Backing into a heavy sea in a boat with a cut-out transom; this one accounts for a LOT of sinkings! And the old classic: anchoring from the stern – ALWAYS keep the pointy end of the boat towards the waves!