Spray rails are often held out as the only option for drying out a wet boat’s ride, but do they really help? Is it worth the expense and installation time? These are questions I hear a lot from the owners of 16′ to 20-something outboard boats.
I owned a 16′ years ago which I added spray rails to, and found that it did make a major difference. In fact, I think spray was cut by 60 or 70 percent. And a friend of mine owns the 21′ pictured here, which also had spray rails added. His estimation? A wetness reduction of 50 percent or so.
The next question I often hear relating to spray rails: do I have to drill holes in my boat to mount them? While some rails are bolted in place, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” The rails I installed (Smart Rails) came with adhesive pre-applied to them, and all I had to do was clean off the hull with a solvent, peel off the liner, and press the rails in place. Amazingly, this stuff actually held… until it didn’t. The sticky-back lasted for about four seasons, then one of the rails pulled free from the fiberglass. A bead of 3M 5200 adhesive/sealant made it secure once more, and for the next three years there were no problems. That may not be a perfect record, but it’s pretty darn good – and a whole lot better then drilling holes down the side of your boat. So if a wet ride plagues your small boat, consider adding rails. They do make a world of difference, and yes, it is worth the time and money.