Float Your Boat! An analysis of 10 reasons why your boat may not float and how to prevent such disasters with the help of boat GPS tracking and monitoring solutions.
According to Boat U.S. Magazine, “boats sink at the dock more than twice as often as they sink underway.” A constant battle is waged between boats and boaters with all the water around them, quite often the water wins. What exactly is meant by sinking? According to insurance companies, a boat is sinking if it must be actively pumped out to remain afloat and undamaged. Are you doing all you can to protect and monitor your boat to prevent sinking?
The summer of 2017, a marina in the Texas Hill Country rented out a brand-new wakeboard boat. Not an hour later the boat was reported to be sinking, soon after was on the bottom of Canyon Lake. The renters claimed to have done nothing wrong, did not beach the boat, did not hit anything and obeyed all rules set by the marina. Then why did it end up on the bottom of the lake? The marina did not have a GPS tracking solution for their boat to monitor driver behavior and real-time location. The boat was taken into restricted areas and beached multiple times to damage the haul allowing water to enter.
Sinking can be prevented with management of driver behavior, care while underway and docking, routine maintenance and a few helpful tips. More than 2/3 of the reasons why boats sank can be avoidable. Failed parts below the waterline and the boat hitting something (another boat, the bottom, or something floating) are the two most common reasons boats sink.
- Inspect sterndrive bellows, Replace every 3-5 years.
A bellow’s main purpose is to prevent water from leaking into the boat. Bellows are designed to remain watertight, flex and bend, be exposed to growth and extreme temperatures. These conditions make the bellows susceptible to cracks that start in the folds. Annually, tilt and turn the sterndrives to inspect the bellows and remove any growth you find. Replace if you see signs of wear or at least every 5 years. If one is worn, replace them all!
- Check and pack your stuffing box.
Stuffing boxes are one of the few thru-hull fittings designed to allow some water into the boat, at least when the motor’s in use. But it’s easy for one to two drips a second to turn into a stream. Prevention is with diligent maintenance, repacking the stuffing box not simply tightening down the packing screw repeatedly, possibly damaging the prop shaft. Make sure to check your stuffing box every time you visit your boat. If the bilge pump is running regularly on an older boat with a stuffing box, you can almost bet that it will be the source of the water.
- Monitor engine raw-water hoses for signs of wear.
Intake hoses ingest “raw” or outside water to cool the engine, flush the toilet, feed the AC and supply fresh water for the fish in the bait tank. A cracked raw-water hose or one that has come off a fitting can sink the boat if the problem is below the waterline. Cooling hoses above the waterline can bring water into the boat if the problem is downstream of the raw-water pump and engine is running. Replace hoses at first sign of wear.
- Check the impeller, replace every 2-3 years.
An impeller is a rotating component of a centrifugal pump which transfers energy from the motor that drives the pump to the fluid being pumped by accelerating the fluid outwards from the center of rotation. If your impeller deteriorates due to age and wear, the amount of water it can move through the water pump will decline and eventually not be pumping anything at all. The engine will overheat, the cooling system can sink a boat without springing a leak. If you don’t shut it down right away, hot gases can melt the hose, allowing water to enter the boat.
- Inspect cockpit and live-well plumbing.
When cockpit drains don’t work, the boat can be overwhelmed by a heavy downpour. Problems include missing hose clamps, broken drain fittings, broken thru-hulls, and loose hoses. Inspect everything from the drain to the waterline at the beginning of every season. Flooding suspect areas with a hose and seeing where the water goes will uncover any problems. Drains, hoses, and thru-hulls can be difficult to get to, try to create access and cover the openings with watertight hatches.
- At the beginning of each season, inspect all fittings below the waterline.
Inspect all below-waterline thru-hulls, hoses and hose clamps inside the boat, paying close attention to transducers and sensors. These penetrate the hull below the waterline, unlike most below waterline fittings, they do not have a seacock. Any failure will result in water entering the boat. If there is dampness around a transducer, use epoxy only for a temporary fix. Water may have encroached into the hull itself, resulting in saturation or delamination. Haul the boat and fix the leak ASAP!
- Drain Plug!!!
Really? Forgot the drain plug? That’s what people say until they forget it themselves. Mistakes are made, but someone forgot the drain plug! Always make sure the drain plug is inserted properly before your boat enters the water. Figure out a way that will never let you forget again, attach it to the boat key or on the stern tie-down strap.
- Know where you are at ALL times.
Get a GPS tracking system! Often times boaters are not familiar with the body of water they are traversing. Inclement weather and darkness can make it even more difficult to navigate to your destination. About 15 percent of the sinking boats were the result of hitting something while underway. The sinking may not occur until later, in some cases hours or days. Sterndrives are vulnerable to grounding or hitting something below the waterline. If you have any doubt about whether your boat is still watertight after you hear a thud or bump, check everything below the waterline.
- Trailer your boat before major storms.
This one is easy…if you can remove your boat from the marina before a storm DO IT! If you can’t move your boat, tie the boat with the bow facing open water and put a cover on it. Make sure the bilge pump is working.
- Center the boat in its slip or put on a boat lift.
Your boat needs to rise and fall with the waterline. If rings or ropes are unable to move up and down the boat can be unable to move with the tide, resulting in sinking. Centering your boat in the slip will reduce the frequency the boat hits the dock. Repeated poundings can create “soft spots”, the perfect places for holes to eventually be created. Keeping your lines taut and letting the up and down movement to deal with the tide is ideal for proper docking in a slip.
The Good News: LoneStar Tracking is here to help!
Track & Monitor:
Some External Sensors/Switches for Boats Include:
- Float Switch
- Pressure Mat
- Motion Sensors
- Magnetic Reed Switches
- Wireless High-Water Sensor
LoneStar Tracking, LLC offers customizable GPS tracking devices and services to best suit our customers’ specific needs. We offer many satellite and cellular GPS tracking devices (including the SmartOne C) and service plans for nearly any fixed or mobile asset. LST currently has GPS devices on cars, trucks, trailers, fleets, ATVs, boats, construction equipment and more. Over 70 low-earth orbiting satellites guarantee data delivery almost anywhere on Earth. LST can not only track your asset but also offer remote monitoring. Alerts, such as unauthorized usage, impact detection, geofence, driver behavior and equipment usage are immediately sent via email or SMS. Visit our website, WWW.LoneStarTracking.com, to see how we can offer you a customized GPS solution.