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Old 23-08-2012, 15:22   #1
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Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

My manual bilge pump doesn't work. I assume it's rebuildable, but after reading this: Sinking ??????

I question the value of having a manual pump at all.

It requires me to be in the cockpit when I should be below plugging the leak.

It has limited value because of low GPH.

I don't see much return on the investment and think the money and space could be used for other projects like new seacocks and hoses.

Am I missing something?
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Old 23-08-2012, 15:44   #2
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

I've had my floor boards awash before. Fortunately it was just fresh water leaking from the tanks, but either way it scared the crap out of me. We have a manual installed in the cockpit, and then another much larger Edson mobile unit on its own platform that can be moved anywhere on the boat.

The calculus is more than just "a three inch hole will let in too much water for a pump to be relevant". You can easily end up with a couple of hundred gallons (depending on the vessel, obviously) in your cabin, and a plugged leak, by which the boat might not necessarily be taking on water but the wet surface and reduced buoyancy is the problem. If you don't get the water out sooner than later, a little bit of wave action will indeed sink you.

Below is my pregnant wife with out +1 gallon per stroke pump. A hustle you could stick with for a while is about 100 strokes a minute, so dumping 500 gallons in five minutes is certainly do-able. It's also a handy pump because (and I've done this) a neighbor might need to de-water his boat. Not being a tool about it, but it's usually a neighbor who doesn't have a properly functioning manual bilge pump.

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Old 23-08-2012, 15:46   #3
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

And before people start talking about buckets, while it's indeed important as hell, the bilge on most boats doesn't accommodate a bucket nor is it the safest thing in the world to be hauling forty pounds of water up and down the companionway on repeat.
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Old 23-08-2012, 15:49   #4
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Good question,
I have 4 electric pumps aboard my IF36. I have not been able to get my factory stock manual Whale pump working, I believe it needs the suction hose replaced as everything else with the pump looks good. I guess when it gets down to it I just like everything on the boat to work. So that is the only reason I would like it working. But with 6000 miles on the GPS odometer I can not think of a situation where the manual pump would be needed. 3 of my pumps are 12 volt . the 4th is 120v 1hp submersible aptly named the " holy crap " pump. and would be powered by my Honda 2000 generator. As long as you have some kind of back up to the electric pumps ( a bucket would do it) then I do not see the value of the manual pump, A Dinosaur ? Maybe
Chuck
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Old 23-08-2012, 15:55   #5
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

For me, I'll have a functioning manual bilge pump on an offshore boat. You always have the 'scared man and a bucket' approach that will probably keep up with a bilge pump. For cost effectiveness, I think having a cheap, Honda pump on board stands out.

WX10 at 37gpm and 13 pounds, or the bigger WX15.
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Old 23-08-2012, 15:55   #6
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

I prefer to have as many options as possible to move water out of the boat. Electric bilge pumps fail (surprisingly often), manual bilge pumps clog, buckets are quite reliable...but you can't do that for long. I want all three options at least.

If it is minimal GPH then upgrade it rather than pitch it. I have three manual bilge pumps aboard: one built into each hull and one portable.

If am preparing to move a boat and it does not have a bucket aboard -- I go buy at least one!
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Old 23-08-2012, 16:23   #7
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Even a small manual backup is necessary for when, not if, the electric pumps fail. I once picked up someone else's boat from a leading boatyard in Florida where it had just undergone an extensive refit and not one of the five electric bilge pumps onboard was working. I ended up using one of those portable dinghy pumps to clean out the bilges in order to get down to the point where I could even work on the pumps. Switches fail, wire corrodes, fuses blow, the pumps suck up crud, you name it. Having said that, in an emergency of any size even your electric pumps aren't going to do much good. First, you really have to derate them to a fraction of their claimed volume. Add in long hose runs and a lot of rise and you might be lucky to pump one-quarter of their rating, assuming they don't clog almost immediately with floating crud. Another time I rushed over to help someone on a trawler in the Bahamas that was obviously listing and eventually we had the Hopetown fire department onboard and three gasoline pumps going full blast, one a 4-incher, and we just barely kept the boat afloat. We had to dismantle the pumps nearly continuously to keep them going as they kept sucking up all the crap floating around in the boat. When I saw the hole in the keel area it was about the size of my fist--he had backed over some sunken piece of junk while circling waiting for the fuel dock to open up. In other words, bilge pumps are really there for the occasional very minor emergency, and mostly there just for routine water entry. A manual is a very useful back up for these purposes.
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Old 23-08-2012, 16:50   #8
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
... For cost effectiveness, I think having a cheap, Honda pump on board stands out.

WX10 at 37gpm and 13 pounds, or the bigger WX15.
The little Honda pumps are great. I've used one ashore for about 5 years now...other than cleaning the carb and changing the oil it's always run great.

Hmmm...maybe I will get one for the boat too...great back up bilge pump...except the fact it is gas driven, but could find a suitable spot for it.
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Old 23-08-2012, 16:51   #9
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Another time I rushed over to help someone on a trawler in the Bahamas that was obviously listing and eventually we had the Hopetown fire department onboard and three gasoline pumps going full blast, one a 4-incher, and we just barely kept the boat afloat. We had to dismantle the pumps nearly continuously to keep them going as they kept sucking up all the crap floating around in the boat. When I saw the hole in the keel area it was about the size of my fist--he had backed over some sunken piece of junk while circling waiting for the fuel dock to open up. In other words, bilge pumps are really there for the occasional very minor emergency, and mostly there just for routine water entry. A manual is a very useful back up for these purposes.
That's what I mean. In your Bahamas emergency a manual pump would have been worthless. If the boat is leaking badly enough that I'm in danger and I'm unable to go below and fix it, a manual pump isn't going to do me any good..at least not much good and certainly only for the hour or so that I'm able to pump my arms. After my arms crap out then what?

I'm not saying a manual pump has zero value, I'm exploring the possibility that it may be of minimal value and that money spent on the manual pump may be better spent on better quality seacocks or building redundancy into the electric pump system... or a deposit on a liferaft?
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Old 23-08-2012, 16:57   #10
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

I would say you should consider two big electric pumps and at least one manual as a minimum. Like I said, the manual will be for evacuating your bilges of normal water when your electrics have failed for some reason.
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Old 23-08-2012, 16:57   #11
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Fix your manual pump now. If you are going offshore, then add another one that you can work from below decks and that pumps overboard directly, not into the cockpit. And have spare parts aboard. Please see the section in the ISAF Special Regulations on required pumps - here's a (USA) link ->
offshore.ussailing.org

There is a list of safety items you just really ought to take care of before going into deep water and you named one of them - upgrading sea cocks and hoses. So you are on the right track, but I do recommend adding an inside, high capacity, manual pump. And don't forget to exercise it occasionally. Also, as Kettlewell implies, keeping your bilge free of crude is a very good thing.

Side note - sorry to be so pedantic in this post, but my 3-hand crew and I on my engineless wood cutter (no engine, so essentially no electrics) once pumped almost constantly from Bermuda to Connecticutt in mid spring. We all had hands and arms like a lumberjack when we landed, but we made it thanks to the Henderson pump.
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:03   #12
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

I don't know, lots of electric pumps, but the water is over the batteries? Gee....
There are two places where it is pretty foolish not to spend the required money, IMHO; bilge pumps and anchor tackle.
Dude, fix or replace that manual pump. With a BIGGER one, even.
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:13   #13
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

capta - Right on!
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:22   #14
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Consider this; In the age of sail, ships at sea were constantly pumped, it being a case of "pump or drown"
An electric bilge pump is a luxury but a manual is a necessity but that's just my take on it.
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Old 23-08-2012, 17:26   #15
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Re: Manual Bilge Pumps Obsolete?

Fellows, I think he is taking the ring, life is richer than the cost of a 2bob pump!!!
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