About those drain plugs: Don't forget to put 'em back in

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 17, 2014 - 3:54 PM

The law says take them out. Now a device is available to help boaters remember to put them back in.

The black plastic Plug Dock is shown holding a brass boat plug and orange kill-switch tether. The engine won’t start until the tether is connected near the engine.

Photo: Courtesy of Jon Harkness,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Most of Minnesota’s 2.3 million boaters know they must remove their boat’s drain plug after they tow their craft from the water to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

And those plugs can’t be reinstalled until a boater is readying to launch at a landing.

The problem is remembering to do that.

Some boaters have done so only after noticing water flooding into their boats.

“I’ve come close [to forgetting], and I’ve worried about it, but I haven’t actually done it,’’ said avid boater Jon Harkness of Maple Grove.

But the thought of accidentally sinking his 18-foot runabout got him ruminating. Harkness invented a device that he says is an almost foolproof way to store a boat plug and also remember to reinstall it.

“It just kind of came to me,’’ he said. “I thought why not store it in a place where you also retain your kill switch tether, so you can’t start your engine without remembering to put your plug in?’’

The result: Plug Dock, a small plastic device that holds both the drain plug and the kill-switch tether. It’s attached with adhesive to a conspicuous place on a boat.

“Every boater who removes his drain plug is faced with two questions: Where am I going to store it, and how will I remember to put it back when I launch my boat?’’ Harkness said. “This little chunk of plastic answers both questions.’’

Harkness, a patent attorney, and his partner, Dan Martinson of Medina, who is in the plastics business, started producing and peddling the devices this spring.

Wildlife Forever, a nonprofit group based in Brooklyn Center, is helping distribute them to lake associations and government agencies as part of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers campaign, with the idea that they be given away free at boat inspection sites.

They’re also available for purchase at Hallberg Marine in Wyoming, Minn., and through the company’s website, www.plugdock.com.

Harkness thinks he has invented a better mousetrap, and hopes to get the devices — which sell for about $10 — into other retail outlets. They hold either a half-inch threaded plug or 1-inch expandable rubber plug.

“We feel it’s a neat product to remind folks to pull their plug — it’s a no-brainer concept,’’ said Pat Conzemius, Wildlife Forever conservation director.

Wildlife Forever has started offering Plug Docks at discount to lake associations.

“We’re not in this to make money, we want to get folks to change their behavior,’’ Conzemius said.

Minnesota Sea Grant in Duluth bought some that will be distributed in the Duluth and Lake Superior area, Conzemius said.

More random checks

  • related content

  • The black plastic Plug Dock device is shown holding a brass boat plug and orange kill-switch tether. The boater can't start the engine until the kill-switch tether is connected near the engine. Photo courtsey Jon Harkness

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - LP: A. Ranaudo 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton 4
Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 8
Washington - WP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 9
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
Chicago WSox - WP: E. Surkamp 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 2
Detroit - LP: J. Nathan 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: G. Perkins 4
Milwaukee - WP: B. Kintzler 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist 2
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 10
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1
Seattle - WP: C. Smith 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: J. Grilli 2
Texas - WP: N. Tepesch 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Kazmir 3
Philadelphia - LP: A. Burnett 4 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 5
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close