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.

spray rail boat

How much do spray rails help? The owner of this boat said they cut the wetness by about 50 percent.

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.