Home Tips & Tricks How Do Self-Bailing Boats Work?

How Do Self-Bailing Boats Work?


Motorboat anchored near beach. A surprising number of boats sink each year due to inadequate safe-bailing systems, whether at dock or out on the water. Self-bailing boats, or self-bailing hulls, are designed to remove water from the boat deck or cockpit area. The water is discharged overboard through the transom, the “back wall” of the boat. Self-bailing, actually being somewhat of a misnomer, means that gravity and momentum are used to rid a boat of unwanted water. There are other systems that provide assistance in eliminating water, and a boat owner should know how each one operates in conjunction with the all-encompassing term of self-bailing.

The Need for Self-Bailing Systems

Boats, particularly open-cockpit and open-bow designs, are subject to overspray, high wave activity and rain. The excess water accumulates in the deck, cockpit or transom area, adding dangerous weight. The excess water weight reduces the freeboard, which lowers the profile of the hull in the water.