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Skipper’s Corner

When I was a wee lad, my favorite Golden Book was titled “Scuppers the Sailor Dog”. I got that book in 1952 and continue to read it to this day. I loved the Sailor Dogs name “Scuppers’’. When my son was born, I wanted to name him “Scuppers”. Such a cool name. After much debate with my dear wife, I gave in to Matthew. Yet when I spoke to him, my voice is saying “Hey Matt” but my mind is saying “Hey Scuppers”!

Enough with the foolishness! Scuppers are a very important component on every vessel and on today’s pleasure and sport fishing boats, are treacherously under-designed. They are not designed at all! Most manufacturers just make two small holes in the transom and leave it at that. If you take a large wave over your bow or anywhere else and it feeds big time into your cock pit and deck, and “Paddy Dyles Boots” you have a big, big, problem. One wave can swamp you; two large waves and you are sinking. If you go offshore or even in the bays, this is a critical issue.The concept of the scuppers is to move a mass of water quickly, the keyword “quickly”, out of the boat. Any vessel that has the possibility of mixing it up with heavy seas or other masses of deck water needs large scuppers. Those 1 ¾” to 2’’ little holes in your stern are not going to do so in an emergency. I gave up ocean trips 2 years ago, but I must admit that every time I bought a boat, I always gave scuppers a thought but then somehow backbrained it. When I think about it now, that was very stupid of me since I traveled in and out of snotty inlets, got caught in storms, and almost took several big ones over the transom but as soon as each incident was over, I did “Nada”, nothing. Fortunately, I always made it through. Yet lately, when I read “Scuppers the Sailor Dog” again, and how he was marooned after a terrible storm, I thought it was time to make everyone aware of the importance of sufficiently sized scuppers.
When I go to the boat shows of late, I find some of today’s vessels are designed for their looks, or what they think looks good. Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful, very sturdy, functional boats on the floor. But these days, after I make my way through all the functions and amenities, I find myself looking for, and then examining the scuppers. Most I find insufficient for water diversion. These boats cost mega bucks. I can’t understand why there is a lack of engineering when it comes to such an important, potentially life-saving part of any boat.
Take a look at YouTube and find videos of commercial fishing boats, Coast Guard vessels, well-built sports fishing vessels, and even competitive ocean sailboats in tempestuous seas. When the waves peak then breech over the cockpit, watch how much water exits out of the large scuppers. These scuppers are built to do the job fast. That’s the idea. If the water piddles out like an old guy with a prostate problem, those scuppers need some medical intervention. If you are purchasing any boat that will be used in a sea that has a possibility of overwash and the scuppers look even a tad insufficient, be bold! Ask them to put in adequate scuppers or get an allowance and have large ones retrofitted. It’s not rocket science. Many a boatman can do it himself except most likely there will be warranty issues on a new boat, so get them to do it. It’ll put your mind somewhat at rest. Not totally, mind you, because you should never be at rest when piloting your boat in the “Snots”.
So, there you go. A quick review of scuppers. They were invented ions ago to do a job. Make them big enough to do it. Now, do I go back to reading “Scuppers the Sailor Dog” or “Hamlet”? Aye skipper, There’s the rub!