Posted by: Dan Sprague | March 16, 2012

Leak Control

You may not be able to prevent a leak in a boat but there are a few things you can do to be prepared if one occurs.  Here are a few things you can have on the boat that let you deal with a leak.

A manual operated diaphragm pump, mounted so it can be operated continuously without excessive fatigue, is first on the list.  Units are available that can pump a gallon per stroke. It should be  easily accessible and not blocked with other items. This is in addition to your electric bilge pump.

Have a collection of soft wood plugs that are cone shape, which can be driven in to a hole from the inside of the boat. You should have cones that are appropriate diameter for each through hull on the boat.

A strong tarpaulin and lines should be stocked for hull damage. When lines are attached to the tarp’s corner grommets, the tarp can be maneuvered over the hull hole on the outside of the boat and then secured. The water pressure will push the tarp against the hull and stop much of the leak.

These efforts may not stop the entire leak but they can reduce most of them. Stuffing anything soft into a hole in the hull can also help. Towels, bedding, cushions, and most anything that can plug the hole can be used. Reinforce the soft plug with something hard and have someone keep an eye on it.

If the material is put on the outside, the water pressure will help hold the plug in place.

Once the leak is under control, head for the nearest landfall and call for assistance. Keep pumping water out of the boat, and keep someone monitoring the leak holes and water coming in.

Being prepared for a leak in advance makes dealing with a leak much less stressful.

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