Soaking A Dry Boat? Towing A Dry Boat?

sunk 3

thats not good

This past weeks sad story on the 18 Sportsman that looks like something went wrong with her first soaking after a while is a cold reminder of how quick stuff can go wrong. Its not uncommon at lake Dora to see boats taking on water and bilges running batteries down over night. Back in the day before 5200 bottoms it was very common.

classic boat sinking

Weak bottom under the Battery.

Are you storing your boat right? When you tuck away your boat over the winter, she drys out. An average 20 foot boat can take on close to 700 lbs of water when its soaked up. And over a cold dry winter it all goes away. We will add, that if you store her in a heated garage, its worse, and over concrete even worse. The old timers say to park them in a barn over gravel so the mosture stays in the boat as much as possible. One trick is to put down a plastic tarp under the boat above the concrete, and 5 gallon buckets of water under the boat.


Capt Grumpy from years ago!

Now some of this may be old news, but if your original bottom boat is fragile and loose. It takes time to soak up, and even more important. Try and avoid running it or trailering it in its dry state. The wood is looser and flexes and moves around. When the wood is soaked up, the boat is tighter and stronger. I know this is all subtle stuff. But its the best advice I have gotten over the years, and makes sense.

20 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The “water” around here is a bit too, uh, “firm” to soak in to the wood in an unheated barn.

  2. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Before 5200 bottoms i would stop On the way to Dora at the rest areas and put 10-20 gallons of water in the bilge at the RV dump area. Mobile swelling.

  3. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    Almost lost the Lyman at the docks in Traverse, if it was not for the quick thinking and action by my “Brother of the Bilge” Mr. Matt Smith, and the team from the Antique Boat Center.
    As stated above, trailered down from the cold Michigan, launched, and watched the swelling water levels, throughout the day. Went to dinner, then checked on the boat and found the front bilge burned out, and she filled up to the floor boards. By midnight we had a new pump installed, and she made it thru the night ok.

  4. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    hey wheres the cc club story links?

    i always thought you should have your own forum here.

    and i m not sure im buying the 7oolbs of moisture. thats 87 gallons of water. someone smater than me needs to let me the square footage of 87 gallons of water at .75″ thick, i think its way more than the plank/bottom area of a 20’er.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      The Chris Craft site is down for a major update so Matt will probably need to fix the linking whenever the new one appears.

  5. Ed A ska Boatnut 1
    Ed A ska Boatnut 1 says:

    Years ago I bought a 1955 CC Continental in Michigan which had been garaged for several years and trailered it back to N. Virginia. Once I had it ready for launch, just sitting on its trailer in the driveway I began filling the hull with water from the garden hose to swell the planks. My wife came out and asked what I was doing. I told her that I had to add water to the boat so it wouldn’t sink when I took it to the lake. Naturally she thought I was crazy. She said “I can’t believe you bought a boat that won’t float. I thought that was the first requirement for a boat”

  6. Sean
    Sean says:

    Ah. The peace of mind and beauty of a lightweight plywood hull. No soaking up…or weighing down!

  7. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    You folks with the watertight 5200 bottoms are really missing out on one of the most exciting and satisfying wooden boat experiences. “The Leaky Launch” It’s the most amazing thing when I launch my cruiser in the Spring and the river of water running down the bilge gradually slows down to a trickle in two and a half hours like clockwork year after year. The wood never forgets. I wish my memory was as good.

  8. Steve L
    Steve L says:

    Took Miss Conduct, our 30 ft Constellation, to Florida and launched last week, ready for the St Johns River Cruise. Left Cleveland with 100 gallons in the bilge, arrived in Amelia Island still with 25 gallons sloshing around after the 16 hr road trip. Hung her in the straps for 3 hours as the tide came in, bilge pump running every 2 minutes for 15 seconds. 24 hours later, pump runs about every 2 hours for 10 seconds. By Sunday was once a day.
    Looking forward to winter boating.

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