Soggy Bottom Blues

That is what I call water in your cockpit. “Ya mean it’s supposed to be dry in there???” You bet your sweet bibby – the cockpit (where the electronics are) is supposed to be booooone dry! Why is everyone shocked when I tell them that? If you get water in the cockpit – you have a maintenance problem you need to attend to RIGHT NOW. Electronics and water do not mix – again – water in the cockpit must NOT be tolerated, or you will have a terminal case of the Soggy Bottom Blues!

In older boats (prior to 2001), the culprit is most likely the seam between the deck and the deck plate (square plastic piece screwed on with four screws). In many of the older boats, this seam was caulked with silicon. While silicone can be an excellent caulk, it doesn’t really adhere very well and can develop leaks as the boat “works”.

So if you are getting water in the cockpit, and your bottom is soggy, here is what you should do.

IF the caulk in the deck plate seam appears to be clear (not white), follow these instructions.

1) Take the steering control arm off the top of the steering servo (remove screw).

2) Remove the sail winch drum (being careful to secure the monofilament line with a clip or piece of tape so it does not unwind from the drum).

3) Unscrew the deck plate (4 screws) and lift the plate out of the deck groove. If you have a clear rubbery substance in the seam, that is silicone and you can just grab it and strip it out. Note – the servos may drop off the deck plate when you lift the plate out – it is a good time to see how well your boat is engineered and why we have Baby Black Blocks.

4) Now put in a nice bead of a good marine caulk – I recommend 3M-4200 which you can buy on line at West Marine. the specific page address for this sealant is:”. Just buy the 3 oz size for $8.99, as that is way more than you need. It comes in a toothpaste size tube. Squirt in a nice beat of caulk to the plate groove in the deck.

5) Reinstall the deck plate making sure the seam is well filled. Then clean up, and reinstall the servo control arms. Note: Put a healthy dab of lithium grease or Vaseline around the servo posts before reinstalling the arm and drum. This helps to prevent water entry into the servos themselves.

6) I would also back out, and caulk, all the other screws in the deck plate (2 for the drum bridge, 2 for the switch). Of course, make sure you have a good tight fit for your antenna. See article titled Up Your Antenna. That should do it. With this simple task done, you should have dust storms in the cockpit even in the worst weather. Trust me – I said TRUST ME! There is absolutely no reason to sing the Soggy Bottom Blues.

This article above was written by Steve Lang of

Additionally, the following was posted by Dave Branning on 12/14/09

Two tips from the experienced RC boaters on eliminating water damage to your electronics.

First of all, we all know that water is our enemy and everything you can do to seal and coat screw holes, servo protrusions to the upper deck with silicone is the first primary level of protection against water.

Secondly, we’ve had two regatta experiences (I’m one of them) of water getting into the switch connections or the receiver in the boat…..smoke ensues and you then have a cooked system….causing servo replacement and expense.

So, in researching what other RC classes are doing we have found two drop dead gorgeous suggestions:

1. Go buy a can of liquid electrical tape at Lowes in the electrical tape department. It comes with a lid with an internal brush attached and you brush it on wire connection joints as the wire enters your battery pack or your transmitter or switch. It is more insurance against water intrusion.

2. In addtion, what to do about the connections to the receiver and connecting the battery pack to the switch plug? A product called CorrosionX or Aeroplate (CORROSION X IS SOLD IN MOST MARINE STORES). So go to the link below and order yourself a 8oz spray can of this or find it via the web. This stuff is liquid and coats your plugs with a conductive seal against water. One guy has his 15″ TV in water running. I’m guessing he’s not watching it in the tub but his point is this stuff keeps out water to the electrical contacts.