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Why Boats Sink

An analysis of 2012 insurance files reveals the reasons that boats end up under water to help you avoid the same fate.

Sinking claims at the dock chart

Sinking claims underway chart

**Defective parts/workmanship, lightning, storm, defective design, etc.

Key Ways To Prevent Sinking At The Dock

Stern Drive Bellows

  • Inspect regularly
  • Replace every 3-6 years
  • Haul out annually to clear marine growth
Punctured shift bellows

Stern Drive Bellows

Cockpit and Livewell Plumbing

  • Inspect all plumbing to be sure water cannot drain into bilge
  • Replace any cracked plastic thru-hull fittings
Powerboat sunk tied to dock

Shaft Stuffing Box

  • Adjust so that there are no leaks when engine off; 2-3 drops per minute when engine on
  • Repack stuffing seasonally
Shaft stuffing box

Stuffing Box

What To Do If You Hit Something

If You're Taking On Water

  • Put on life jackets
  • Contact Coast Guard to notify them of the situation
  • Ask for assistance from towing company
  • If you can avoid it, do not try to start your engine
  • Haul out as soon as possible
Collision damage

Wreck removal from reef off Nantucket

If You're Not Taking On Water

  • If your engine has stalled, check for damage to stern drive or shaft seal before attempting to restart it
  • If any damage, call for assistance
  • If you can restart the engine, work your way slowly home
  • Check bilge periodically
  • If any sign of water intrusion, haul out as soon as possible

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safety and prevention boat safety


BoatUS Editors

Contributor, BoatUS Magazine

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.