How well do you know your boat?

Running a marine dealership in a bustling coastal town, we see a wide range of boat and outboard motor problems, especially during the busy summer season. A common root cause of boat problems is that owners of brand new and/or new-to-them pre-owned rigs have not been properly educated in the operation and care of their equipment. Some problems are easily rectified at little or no charge but, unfortunately, some are not.

Drain plugs are a major recurring issue. Often, new owners have no understanding of the quantity, location, and purpose of drain plugs within the hull of recently acquired boats.

Overboard drains and the plugs that seal them are found in many locations, some of these are quite obvious and some are not. Baitwells, for example. Baitwell drains can be found in the bottom of the baitwell, where they drain into the bilge, while others drain through the transom or side of the boat, just above the water line.

Some boats are constructed with sub-hulls, meaning that the floor you see in the bottom of a compartment may actually have another less-accessible compartment below it–the drain plug for which may not be visible except from behind or even under the boat.

Some boats have a drain in the battery box compartment, hidden unless you know where to look, and quite possibly below the waterline when the boat is in the water.

Perhaps the number two issue on used boats is when new electronics have been installed and the plastic thru-hull depth-finder transducer fitting that was used for the original electronics was damaged or abandoned and this was not disclosed to the new owner.

Another great example is seen when an owner purchases a new trailer for the boat. The bunk configuration may be slightly different than the old trailer and therefore contacts under-hull surfaces and fittings differently or when loading the boat onto the new trailer with the sling and high-lift method, the old thru-hull fitting becomes damaged or ripped completely out, and nobody notices.

We highly recommend against the use of plastic thru-hull fittings or installing transducer cables by simply drilling through the hull. Bronze or brass fittings, preferably flush-mounted or tapered to the hull configuration, are highly superior.

Always look for yourself and inspect carefully for leaks or water entering or collecting in the hull when the boat is launched for the first time following any type of maintenance and/or electronic installation, and also following trailer replacement.

There are two types of drain plugs commonly used; snap type–where the plug expands and seals the thru-hull fitting when the "snap" is engaged; and also the twist-tight type–where a screw is turned to obtain a good seal. We recommend the twist-tight plugs be used on all applications where the plugs are installed external to the hull. Snap-type drain plugs installed externally have an uncommon tendency to become loose and/or lost during normal operation.

Have a safe and fun summer boating and fishing season!

Chris Mapp
Coastal Bend Marine
Port O'Connor, TX