Keep Your Bilge Dry with a Garboard Drain Plug

Every once in a while you hear about a boat stored ashore that leaked enough rainwater to fill the bilge and flood the cabin. What a mess! And even a little water in the bilge, if it freezes, can cause damage.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
The owner of this boat has gone one better and installed a length of threaded pipe with an elbow on the end into his garboard drain to keep dripping water from eroding his bottom paint

The owner of this boat has gone one better and installed a length of threaded pipe with an elbow on the end into his garboard drain to keep dripping water from eroding his bottom paint

Every once in a while you hear about a boat stored ashore that leaked enough rainwater to fill the bilge and flood the cabin. What a mess! And even a little water in the bilge, if it freezes, can cause damage. Boats that are frequently stored on the hard can benefit by having a drain hole at the bilge’s low point. This is called a garboard drain, a carryover from the days of wood boats when the garboard strake or plank marked the turn of the hull where it met the keel.

Various companies make garboard drain plugs, basically threaded bronze fittings that securely plug a drain hole when the boat is afloat and can be opened when it’s on the hard to let out rainwater. It’s better to go for one where both the flange fitting and the plug are bronze. Some are a mix of brass and bronze. To install the fitting, simply drill a pilot hole, angled slightly downward, through the hull’s side at the lowest point in the bilge. After that, use a hole saw the same diameter as the stem on your garboard drain—depending on the maker, this will be up to 1 1/8in—to cut the hole proper. Be sure to seal the edges of the hole with epoxy resin. There are various ways of installing the drain plug, depending on the type. I used epoxy resin on mine.

You can place a small screen over the open hole to prevent pests frvom entering and colonizing your bilge while you’re away. A stainless steel household kitchen sink drain screen, sold in hardware stores, is perfect for this.

Got a “Things That Work” idea to share? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Related

Meridian-X-Spin_2

MOB: A Whistle in the Wind

Mark Wheeler went overboard a few minutes before midnight. He was in the middle of Lake Michigan, 30 miles offshore in 40 knots of wind. As he fumbled for the lanyard to inflate his lifejacket he watched his racing sailboat, Meridian X, disappear into the night at more than 18 ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Slapper stopper  When I came on deck at 0800 to hoist my colors on a visitors’ mooring recently, there was an awkward slop running in. This doesn’t trouble my Mason 44, which has a traditional counter ...read more

Tilly-1

Gear: Tilley Polaris Hat

A True Blue Tilley Sailing is all about fun in the sun, but it sometimes doesn’t take long to get too much of a good thing, especially when on a prolonged cruise or offshore passage. Enter the Tilley Polaris, the latest lid developed by iconic Canadian hat-maker Tilley. ...read more

Sand-TOWEL_MODEL-3

CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel

Sand Be Gone! The summer is hot and full of terrors—not the least of which is the sand that sticks in your beach towel in the hopes of a free ride back to your car or boat. Fortunately, there's now the CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel, engineered in polyester to not only dry quickly ...read more

01-Blowup-Tiwal2_sailing-(3)

Gear: Tiwal Inflatable Sailing Dinghy

Blow-up Boating A few years ago, the French company Tiwal arrived on U.S. shores with that most improbable of products, an inflatable sailing dinghy that actually sails the way a boat is supposed to. Now, nearly 1,000 Tiwal 3’s later, the company is back with its Tiwal 2, an ...read more

Koozy

Gear: 22 Below Koozie

Killer Koozie For all that sailors love the warmth of this time of year, that same warmth can also wreak havoc on their otherwise icy-cold beers. (Unless, of course, you drink them very, very fast. But we won’t go there.) To help deal with this terrible hardship, North ...read more

Cool-Specs

Gear: Gill's Race Fusion Sunglasses

Wicked Cool Specs Is there anything in the world of sailing more fun than a cool pair of shades? Heck, no! And it would hard to find a cooler pair than these new Race Fusion specs from longtime weather-gear manufacture Gill. In addition to looking great, they include a number of ...read more

North_new

Gear: North Sails Waterproof Pack

A few years ago, North Sails made a big push into the apparel business with all kinds of sharp-looking button-down shirts, shorts and fleeces. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North Sails Collection isn’t still plenty practical, as is evident in its new roll-over waterproof ...read more