Weather Forecast


Waterlogged boats still salvageable

Numerous boats throughout the Park Rapids area experienced an influx of water due to abnormal precipitation within several hours time. Saving those submerged vessels is achievable, but best left to the experts. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Arguably the annually most common weather reference pertains to rain; either too much or too little.

Indeed, the importance of fostering our nation's crops ranks high on our wish lists. Keeping lake water levels stable is also significant.

Yet this past week, when a massive rainstorm dumped 5+ inches of water upon our land and lakes, active ears cringed when the pitter-patter turned into a raging reverberation.

Lakeshore owners awoke to startling sights; their boats, strategically harnessed to the dock, had filled with water. For some, the boats lay flat on the bottom of the lake.

I personally assisted with the recovery of three different vessels seated in what some thought to be their watery graves over the past week. But according to local boat and motor repair experts, the outcome might not be as ugly as the bullheads swimming circles in your submerged hull.

Dan Yrjo of Dan's All Season in Park Rapids, Mike Johnson of Johnson's on the Water in Dorset and Greg Poncelet, a Nevis motor technician who fine tunes engines at Walker Outdoor Power all agree on some basics to saving a sunken boat.

First and foremost, you must rid the boat of water. Between the three professionals, advice ranges from pulling the boat up on the bank and bailing to using a sump pump as the owner gradually lifts the boat. This pertains to a boat bottomed out in shallow water next to a dock not deep-sixed in Davy Jones Locker.

The next step is to relieve as much moisture from the wiring and connections as possible. Unfortunately your marine batteries will most likely be unsalvageable.

According to Dan Yrjo, there's no danger of electrocution from the 12-volt batteries, but the terminals will corrode quickly, often times leading to further problems as the corrosion creeps through the boats wiring.

If the engine is submerged, get it out of the water and remove the spark plugs, then engage the engine repeatedly to remove water from the cylinders.

Boat owners also need to check fuel tanks and oil reservoirs for water as well. In essence, it's possible to repair the engine on your own, but insurance policies and repair shops typically provide the optimum results.

However, a proactive approach will work even better. All of the interviewees admitted that many people dock their boats erroneously. Their recommendation is to tie the boat to the dock with the bow facing outward, not toward shore. And investing in an automatic bilge pump will save both money and frustration over time.

By doing so, waves won't crash into the boat, since not only rain, but wind and waves, can be equally detrimental to the boat's seaworthiness, especially since high winds often deposit additional sediment into the vessel compared to a heavy downpour of rain.

And, per advice from the engine authorities, leave the engine submerged until you're ready to have it fixed. All the technicians agreed that an engine out of the water corrodes quickly, while an engine under water won't.