Ask the Boat Doctor

Thru-hull fittings explained.

A Leading Question: While painting my boat's bottom it occurred to me that there are a lot of holes under the waterline of a modern boat. A one-inch diameter hole could cause a boat to sink, and sink fast. Am I the only one who has ever thought about this? What do you do when a fitting or hose fails? Nervous in Naples, Florida

Answer: All thru-hull fittings below the waterline should be regarded with a healthy dose of paranoia. Carry a bag of wooden plugs aboard for the worse case scenario. If water starts rushing in aim a plug at the center of the leak, and shove the plug into place. After you've stanched the leak, rap it home with a couple of taps with a hammer. Taking some simple precautions should avoid a deluge.