Friday, January 25, 2008


Every through-hull fitting in your boat is a potential hole that could sink you in a matter of minutes. Most of these are out of sight, out of mind, difficult to get at, through-hulls need checking, at minimum every three months. Many through-hulls like engine-cooling intakes and sink or cockpit drains, tend to be left open continuously and the valves may stick in the open position. You should operate the valve by turning it on and off to make sure that when an attached hose fails you can stop the water flow.
As a precaution you should get wooden plugs (tapered soft wooden plugs) for each through-hull in your boat. (You can get them at Marine Supply stores.) Make sure that they are the proper diameter to fit in the through-hull. Once you get them back to your boat, don’t just throw them in a drawer. Take each appropriate size to the through-hull it fits, drill a hole in the larger end and thread a line through and tie it to the through-hull fitting. When the inevitable happens you won’t have to go looking for the plug. Just reach down, put the tapered end in the hole, and press down until tight and the leak has stopped.
Remember, a two inch hole just a few feet below the waterline can sink a boat in a few minutes.

Just a quick word about bilge pumps, it is important to test your bilge pumps by switching from the automatic to manual position on the bilge pump switch. This doesn't guarantee that the pump will work when unattended. You should also check the automatic float switch by manually raising it to make sure that it turns on the pump.
Check for debris or corrosion that might keep it from floating up properly. If this switch fails the pump won't turn on and your boat could take on sufficient water over time to do serious damage. Also check the wiring to the pump for corrosion.