Boat Leaking in the Rain?

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

When You Find Rain Leaking Into Your Boat: Long term, you need to find it and fix it. But what can you do RIGHT NOW to protect whatever's being dripped on?

To say the past week has been rainy would be an understatement. It has poured. And poured. Over 7 inches of rain.

And that has shown that we have a few leaks to take care of. I know, we’re not supposed to admit that our boats leak. But they do.

At first, when we found a new leak, we’d grab a towel and place it to catch the drip. Then we realized that the rain was soaking through the towel and whatever was underneath (say, a bed or the floor) was still getting wet.

Obviously, the long-term solution was to find and fix the leak. And Dave did an excellent job of that. Any time it stopped raining long enough, he was out rebedding deck hardware.

But what could we do while it was still raining?

We bought a very cheap ($1.97) shower curtain that we could put down under the drip. By keeping the edges up, we could contain any water and wipe it up easily. Since it was big, we could catch drops whether they fell straight down or ran across a hatch or trim and then fell down.

Not exactly elegant, but it worked – and it folds up pretty small, so it’s easy to tuck away. I’m sure it’ll also get used as a drop cloth for a project  or two . . . and it’s a lot tougher than the very thin but similarly-priced drop cloths sold in the paint department of places such as Home Depot.

PS. I think this would be really useful to have aboard if you’re going to be in areas where tropical storms are possible. In 2003, we had 22 inches of rain in 24 hours from Tropical Storm Ignacio!

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  1. Plastic bag over the leak (outside of the boat). Towel on top laid out flat. Weight on top of everything.

  2. Pots and pans, beverly hillbilly’s style.

  3. Cathy Colley says:

    We have one persistent leak above our radios where we can’t find the source, dog piddle pads work great!

  4. When we had a sailboat. .. this is when I went berserk. .. leaks always formed over my face as I slept!

  5. A boat tip I learned 30 years ago… maxi pads. I don’t know I could have lived without ’em. As a temporary solution you can just tape them over the leak and they hold an amazing amount of water.

  6. Had a leak that dropped on my head when I slept. Duct taped a zip lock bag to catch it.

  7. I have 2 shower curtains for exactly that! Ok, one is being used as a drop cloth for varnishing too.

  8. We taped 6′ long wooden v-shaped molding up under the window ledges to catch the drips in and run the water Rube Goldbeg style into water buckets.

  9. Got an email from Jane with another use for the shower curtain:

    Carolyn-The companionway on our Tartan 40 is neither water nor air tight. Last fall and winter were cold, cold, cold and wet, wet, wet on the Intracoastal so I too purchased an inexpensive shower curtain and used it to seal the companionway. My usual technique was to close the doors, drape the top part of the curtain over the doors then draw the cover closed trapping the shower curtain at the top. The rest of the curtain is flexible enough to tuck around the doors and the top of the steps. Works great if you’re going to be below for a while and is not too hard to dismantle when you have to go on deck.

  10. We are using baby diapers. They work great and can be stuffed into small spaces or, if you trim off the leg elastic, you can lay them flat areas like in my dishes cabinet. There is a small leak that always seems to make a puddle in my cereal bowl?

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