Insurance studies review of claims by Boat in the United States. back this up, showing that more than two-thirds of recreational-boat sinkings happen at the dock or on a mooring. Further estimates that only about thirty five percent of such sinkings are out of an owner’s hands.
“Absent something like lightning blasting a hole in the boat or the hull becoming impaled on a piling in a major storm, a boat should never sink while sitting at the dock,” says Daniel K. Rutherford, a certified marine investigator with 35 years of marine casualty surveying experience and currently the director of claims and risk management for the Maritime Program Group. “Owner neglect by far sinks most boats at the dock.”
The upside to that? With some forethought, most sinkings are very preventable. Here is a few items for a punch list based on the findings by BoatU.S. to keep your boat from sinking in its slip. But, you need to most importantly keep your vessel (boat) in good working and operating condition! You need to have ready access to boat Part Suppliers who can ship you boat parts quickly and easily when you need them.
A bilge pump can really save the day in the event of an unexpected gusher, and it’s great for cleaning up the condensation and other unavoidable drips and drops that collect in the bilge. However, there is a huge amount of overreliance on bilge pumps to prevent chronic leaks from sinking a boat. “Nine out of 10 people who call to report a sinking say, ‘The bilge pump stopped working,’” says Beth Leonard of BoatU.S. “That’s not why the boat sank.”
- Inspect your boat frequently. When a boat has been in storage for a while or has not been used for some time, it may begin to corrode or develop mechanical problems. Even vessels that are used often can still experience malfunctions, which can lead to a capsizing accident and the subsequent sinking of the boat. To prevent a tragedy, before heading out into open waters, inspect your boat thoroughly, checking for any leaks and damage. If you find even the smallest of issues, don’t dismiss them. Instead, address the problems promptly and make sure any malfunctions are fixed and worn equipment replaced prior to setting sail once again.
- Keep a proper lookout. One of the main causes of boat sinkings is a collision. To prevent a boat crash, be sure to keep a proper lookout while sailing. Even the smallest of distractions can cause a vessel operator to collide with another boat or water craft, or with a stationary object. Part of staying alert involves being sober. Though many boaters enjoy having a cold beer or alcoholic beverage while sailing, alcohol can severely impair an operator’s judgment and ability to safely maneuver their vessel, so it’s best to abstain from any alcoholic drink while manning the helm.
- Maintain safe dock line management systems. Failing to keep your dock lines in good shape can have catastrophic consequences. Many boaters make the mistake of improperly storing their lines (aka ropes). When storing lines, be sure to coil them so as to avoid any entanglement. Keeping ropes organized can prevent snags, which could potentially cause a boat to sink. Another way to prevent snags is to make sure your boat is centered if you are storing it in a slip.
Boats are a valued asset and you need to keep them save today and forever.