Surveyor’s Notebook: Bilge Pumps - Sail Magazine

Surveyor’s Notebook: Bilge Pumps

Bilge pumps live in a hostile environment. On most boats they sit in at least a little saltwater and are expected to uncomplainingly pump water that may be contaminated with all sorts of detritus.
Author:
Publish date:
The soggy life of a bilge pump

The soggy life of a bilge pump

Bilge pumps live in a hostile environment. On most boats they sit in at least a little saltwater and are expected to uncomplainingly pump water that may be contaminated with all sorts of detritus.

Many bilges are filthy. The worst culprits are often older, heavy-displacement sailboats with deep keel sumps. Their bilge pumps lurk at the bottom of these black holes, are never cleaned and are seldom inspected. Most boats often have at least two bilge pumps, sometimes three or four.

I have noticed that many sailors have come to rely totally on their electric pumps, which is a big mistake.

Corroded bilge pump wiring

Corroded bilge pump wiring

What if your batteries go flat, the pump burns out, or some other mishap causes the pump to stop working?

Don’t get me wrong, electric pumps are great, but surveyors like to see a manual diaphragm pump in addition to the electric pump. A manual pump can often move water faster than a small electric pump and is far less prone to clogging.

Float switches are a constant source of irritation

Float switches are a constant source of irritation

Many electric pumps have a separate float switch, which is a potential trouble spot. You should periodically check the operation of your float switch, as these do get hung up from time and a continuously running pump will soon flatten your battery. Another thing I often see are pumps that are not fixed in place and are merely held in position by their discharge hoses. I urge you to check the operation of your pumps regularly. The safety of your boat and crew may someday rely on them.

Related

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more