One Hint: Look to the Sky
In the first of a four-part series looking at the causes of
recreational boat sinkings, the July issue of Seaworthy, the
damage-avoidance newsletter from BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, took a
close look at the claims files and identified the myriad reasons
why outboard powered vessels sink.
This study can help boaters learn from other's mistakes and
provide boat owners with more specific information on how to
protect certain types of vessels.
The research confirmed that most boats sink while tied up at
the dock, outnumbering sinking-while-underway claims four-to-one.
Nearly half the outboard powered boats that sank at the dock were
victims of heavy rain or snow.
Ironically, almost all had "self-bailing" cockpits. The results
are as follows:
Sinking At The Dock
Rain/snow 47 percent
Underwater Fittings 20 percent
Above the Waterline Fittings 10 percent
Poor Docking Arrangements 9 percent
Water Over Gunwales/Transom 9 percent
Other 5 percent
Sinking While Underway
Water Over Gunwales/Transom 32 percent
Livewell/Baitwell Plumbing 20 percent
Drain Plug 16 percent
Struck a Submerged Object 12 percent
Other 12 percent
Construction 8 percent
Seaworthy Associate Editor Chuck Fort said, "If you
want to reduce the risk of your outboard powerboat sinking at the
dock, the best way is to use a good-fitting boat cover that keeps
Also ensuring that Marelon or bronze fittings are used below
the waterline can reduce your risk. This is a more common a
problem on a used boat when a new owner may be unaware that a
previous owner unwittingly installed a plastic fitting below the
waterline that eventually degrades and cracks.
When underway, outboard powered boat owners should be concerned
about swamping from the transom. Transom wells are sometimes
poorly designed and every effort should be made to prevent water,
even from the boat's own wake, from entering the cockpit or bilge