Got Water in your Hull?

When you get back to the dock from a day of fishing, load your boat on the trailer and pull the drain plugs, how much water should you expect to see draining from the hull - if any?

This raises a lot of great questions.

The first thing you need to discover is the whether the water is fresh or salty, this is the taste test. Do not take a drink; one drop on a fingertip is all it takes.

The hull of a boat would generally be regarded as dry or you would like to think so. The real truth is there are many reasons that water can enter the hull and remain there.

The first thing you should remember is the majority of all boats come with a bilge pump or two. If you do not have one, I can't stress enough the importance of installing one with a float switch or installing a fully automatic bilge pump system.

Water can enter your hull through the rear drain plugs, especially if they are older and the rubber has lost the elasticity to complete a good seal.

Sometimes the drain plug tube or receptacle fitting has become loose or the silicone around the tube-to-hull seal has become weak. Age and chemicals (meaning fuel or cleaning products) can degrade this area.

Plastic drain plugs deteriorate from UV light and chemical exposure. Threaded brass and stainless drain plugs are considered better in some ways but in no way immune to sealing problems of their own.

The livewell fill and recirculation pumps are another common source of problems - where the cartridge fits into the holder coming through the hull or any connection on the fill or drain side.

I recommend having a marine brass/bronze shut off valve any place water has entry through the hull to a pump of any kind, or an exit such as a drain.

Rain is a strong possibility on boats stored outdoors with the bow down. Always raise the trailer jack to the highest point when storing or parking for any period. Always pull the drain plugs when storing. Always remember to reinstall prior to launching. Even boaters with decades of experience have made this mistake.

My conclusion is that some amount of water (usually small) is 100% normal and knowing the amount your boat takes on during your average fishing day is important. Any increase in the amount indicates a problem. Ditto an automatic bilge pump that seems to cycle more frequently than normal.

There are numerous other areas and topics to discuss; rub rails, seal between inside liner cap and hull, bow eye fittings, exterior hull vents, etc. The important thing is to know your boat and know some water is to be expected…but keep an eye on it!

Chris Mapp

[email protected] | 361.983.4841