Originally Posted by Kettlewell
After an experience many years ago in the Bahamas
I am of the school
that basically believes you're going down if you get a hole in the hull somehow. A large trawler
was backing away from the fuel dock
in Marsh Harbor and hit something on the back of its keel
. The water quickly rose above the floorboards and by the time I arrived the boat was seriously listing. My wife took the children
onboard back to our boat so they would be safe and I worked with other cruisers and the owners to try and keep her afloat. The Hopetown fire and rescue
eventually showed up with several large gasoline pumps. With five gasoline pumps going, one a five incher and the others three inchers, we were just barely able to stay ahead of the water until a diver showed up and located the hole in the back of the keel
. He stuffed something in the hole, about the size of his fist, and that slowed the water enough so that we were able to make Man O'War and get an immediate haulout. It was creepy working down below in the cabin
with water sloshing about above my knees, the boat listing heavily, while trying to keep the pumps from clogging up, which they did with regularity. Then it would be a mad scramble disassembling the pump or clearing a strainer. First one than another would jam with something that used to be useful but was now detritus: underwear and socks, a sewing kit with spools of thread, charts
, toilet paper, you name it. The boat's own pumps were next to useless. The engines were knocked out of commission early on. Until you experience it, it is very hard to believe the quantity of water that comes in through a very small hole when it is under pressure. There is no way the average cruising boat's pumps would stay ahead of any significant hole.
That's very much the way I imagine it
And that's why I have two life rafts, and kept up to date, and a grab bag. At sea, without divers and rescue
services, it doesn't take much of a hole to sink you, I think. How will you find the leak to plug
it? How will you keep the pumps you have unclogged, even if you have a lot of pumping capacity?
I've said it before, but I think cruising boats over 45' ought to have watertight bulkheads. I love, love, love the Sundeer setup with three watertight compartments and no throughhulls at all in the middle one -- that should be basically unsinkable, nearly, anyway.
My boat has got a watertight bulkhead in the forepeak, and the hull is Kevlar forward of the keel to help prevent holing in case of a collision
. So far so good. But the bloody lazarette communicates with the main bilge -- bad idea. And I have something like 14 holes in the bottom, and a corresponding number of rubber hoses. So I consider the risk to be pretty significant.
I don't count on the built in pumps to stay unclogged or keep up, so for me a Honda
trash pump it is. I can power it with the genset (which lives far above the waterline), the inverter
, or the Honda
. It will not prevent a sinking in case of a major holing but might just allow me to find and plug
a more minor leak -- just maybe.
Manual pumps are fine for a little drip, but forget about manual pumping any kind of real leak. They are even worse than electric
in the sense that someone who could be unclogging intakes is busy pumping. Of course you need a manual pump in case you're in a big storm, have been rolled, lose electrics, and have water in the boat but no breach of the hull. That's what manual pumps are for. But they are more or less useless in case of any kind of leak, bigger than a drip.