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This is a drain plug. When removed from the bottom of your boat’s transom, water drains out. When inserted in the transom, it prevents water from coming back in. Sounds pretty simple, and maybe that’s why a drain plug is truly The Root Of All Evil.

There are lots of boating checklists out there. “Install drain plug” is usually the first item. Sometimes second and third, too. You just can’t remind yourself enough. There are many horror stories about this. More than once I have gotten the boat partly off the trailer and noticed water pouring in the back. Gee, where’s that water coming from? Drain plug! Oh, no. I forgot.

So I crank the boat back on the trailer, pull up in the parking lot to let the water run out, and then search for the drain plug so I can install it. I keep several extra of these inexpensive plugs in the truck and the boat, so the search won’t be too difficult.

Except for my last late-season trip up to the lake. Boat all loaded, rods rigged, sandwiches in the cooler, and ready to launch. Okay, where’s the drain plug? Search high and low. Can’t find one. Thus unable to launch, haul the boat back home. Drain plug on kitchen counter where I left it. Bummed out at my own stupidity. I say to hell with it and go rake leaves instead.

There’s a flip side to this, of course. Taking the drain plug out can be just as important. For those boats that aren’t self-bailing–and there are many such–a rainstorm can fill the boat with water as the boat sits on a trailer in your driveway. Been there–done that–not good.

I have long ago realized that I am never going to be a totally sensible, organized, detail-oriented guy. I can obsess over a dry-fly leader knot or the rigging of a plastic worm while at the same time standing on the line and weakening the same with a severe nick. There’s no telling when a fit of klutziness will strike. So drain plugs are always going to be a problem.

Then again, nobody has a monopoly on stupidity. How about you?