Every spring, shortly after being launched and commissioned for the season, boats sink while safely tied up at the dock, turning what should be a good time of the year into a real mess.
BoatU.S.' Seaworthy magazine, which combs through the BoatU.S. marine insurance claims files for important accident trends or lessons to learn, has identified the top five reasons for springtime sinkings, and created a free Spring Commissioning Checklist to help boaters start the season right.
1) Missing or damaged hose clamps: These clamps are often removed in the fall to winterize the engine, and then forgotten about in the spring when the boat is launched. Tight spaces in engine compartments make it difficult to see some unsecured or deteriorated clamps.
2) Unsecured engine hoses: During the winter, freezing water can lift hoses off seacocks (valves).
3) Spring rains: Combine heavy rains with leaking ports, deck hatches, cracked or improperly caulked fittings, chain plates and even scuppers clogged by leaves and your boat could be on the bottom soon.
4) Broken sea strainer: Glass, plastic and even bronze strainer bowls can be cracked or bent over the winter if not properly winterized, allowing water trickle in when the seawater intake seacock is in the open position.
5) Leaking stuffing box: If equipped, a steady drip from an improperly adjusted stuffing box (the "packing" around the prop shaft) has been known to swamp a boat.