Mechanical or electric bilge pump?


“Don’t worry, there’s no water on the ship.” So the boat seller when we complained about the wrongly placed bilge pump, because the shaft on the cockpit wall (cockpit casing) could not be levered through at all. Such views are nonsense, because water always comes into the ship, either through the companionway, through the stern tube or even a leaky valve in the ship’s bottom. Therefore, not only a manually operated pump should be installed, but it should be attached as an external pump, fully functional and easily accessible. This is the only way to pump for a long time.

Every cruising boat, however small, should be equipped with two bilge systems: a mechanical hand pump and an electric bilge pump. This is a great security package. Why? The mechanical one is reliable, the electrical one easier to use. I would automate the electric pump, but the suction point should not be at the lowest point of the bilge – so that the automatic does not start with every cup of water. If I wish for absolute security, it would be a must to operate this automatic bilge pump with a separate battery. – For the hand pump: A double diaphragm pump with a high capacity is best, 120 l / min would be a guideline. Such a voluminous thing costs money, but a few matches do not block the function, and the housing can be opened and cleaned as quickly as possible. To use the pump effectively, it should be installed halfway between the suction point and the drain.

Powerful hand pumps are also and especially useful for small yachts.

And that’s why: A leak – for example through a leaking cooling water pipe – lets just as much water through on a seven meter long cruiser as on a 17 meter long yacht. And the fact is that before a 17 meter ship begins to sink, it can take a lot more water in its hull than a seven meter boat. This leads me to conclude that the smaller boat needs the larger bilge pump. Even if it is heavy and space-consuming, you have to remember that there could come a moment when nothing is more important than the pump.

Despite these two types of spring, nothing beats the third option: a bucket. Because there is no more efficient “pump” than a frightened sailor with a bucket in hand.

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