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Automatic bilge pump, on or off?

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,275
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
Its unlikely a busted seacock will be covered by average bilge pump ... but a failed leaking one will.

Personally I cannot see why aan auto pump switched to auto is such a no no to some people ... if the boat stays dry - the pump never operates ...

But having had two boats flooded by rain water getting in ... and cockpit drains blocked .... I do not wish to repeat the incidents ... Solar panel + small SLA battery + auto pump ensures I never have that again.
 

Stemar

Well-known member
Joined
12 Sep 2001
Messages
13,457
Location
Home - Southampton, Boat - Gosport
ISTM that if you leave it on, if its needed, it might do some good unless the leak is catastrophic. This may wreck your battery.
If it's off, it'll never do any good, and a submerged battery's probably ruined anyway.

Mine stays on.
 

Scubadoo

Active member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
1,474
Location
Hampshire / Solent
I would leave the pump in auto and most would have an automatic fire suppression in the engine bay anyway where the pump is usually fitted. Also check your insurance policy, you may find your not covered. Furthermore setup an alert system if the pump is activated e.g. sms/text to mobile.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,275
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
I would leave the pump in auto and most would have an automatic fire suppression in the engine bay anyway where the pump is usually fitted. Also check your insurance policy, you may find your not covered. Furthermore setup an alert system if the pump is activated e.g. sms/text to mobile.
Auto fire system ... isn't that still for large engine setups ?

Insurance policy ... what not covered ?
 

Scubadoo

Active member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
1,474
Location
Hampshire / Solent
Auto fire system ... isn't that still for large engine setups ?

Insurance policy ... what not covered ?
Yes I was thinking of larger engines, I think if a boat speed is less than 17knots then no requirement for fire suppression from an insurance policy point of view. Mind you I would have one fitted anyway.

You may find there is something in the insurance policy about Measures in place to remove water ingress, just saying worth checking the policy clauses or contact the insurers, the last thing you want is to find your boat has water damage and insurers refuse payout.
 

lw395

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2007
Messages
42,088
Its unlikely a busted seacock will be covered by average bilge pump ... but a failed leaking one will.

Personally I cannot see why aan auto pump switched to auto is such a no no to some people ... if the boat stays dry - the pump never operates ...

But having had two boats flooded by rain water getting in ... and cockpit drains blocked .... I do not wish to repeat the incidents ... Solar panel + small SLA battery + auto pump ensures I never have that again.
The problem with auto pump is pumping out oily water from engine bay or whatever.
You can, quite rightly IMHO, pick up a big fine for this. Even in grubby old Portsmouth.
It's not necessary to pump out a pint or two of water in the marina.

So I'd suggest either keeping the bilge and engine sparkly clean, or setting the float switch high enough that it won't pump out trivial amounts of water.

People had yachts long before auto bilge pumps were in every chandlers.
The proper thing to do is to stop the boat from leaking and do whatever is necessary to have proper confidence in skin fittings etc.

People see these things in chandlers and think they're a must-have. They're actually pretty crap on a yacht and maybe offer false confidence about surviving leaks.
They are great for pumping the rain out of open boats etc. But poor long term reliability. Floats stick, pumps seize. They fill with detritus and either stall or don't pump much.
The proverbial dry yacht with 'dust in the bilge' will probably choke its pump in the first few gallons.

I've also heard of a boat sunk by the auto bilge pump, because the hose from the pump was in the sea. The water ran back every time the pump stopped, eventually the battery went flat and the sea siphoned into the boat!
 

NormanS

Well-known member
Joined
10 Nov 2008
Messages
7,525
I've posted this before, but when I had a big old converted fishing boat, she spent most winters in the Caledonian Canal. On another boat close by, the fuel tank split, and his automatic pump deposited 200 gallons of diesel into the basin. It has confirmed my view that an automatic pump is not a good thing.
 

LONG_KEELER

Well-known member
Joined
21 Jul 2009
Messages
2,171
Location
East Coast
I noticed that my bilge pump was going a lot more than usual whilst aboard.

Two bolts held the stuffing box to the bulkhead. One had sheared off and left it somewhat dangling .

Had I not been aboard the boat would have sunk. So the auto bilge pump was in effect a warning alarm rather than a device to save the boat.
 

BlowingOldBoots

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Joined
5 Aug 2009
Messages
15,747
Location
Scotland.
Auto fire system ... isn't that still for large engine setups ?
Perkins 4236, Mikuni Heater diesel fuelled hot air heater in the aft cabin; both spaces are fitted with automatic discharge fire extinguishers. They are not expensive and easy insurance against manual extinguishers failing to extinguish a fire in these spaces.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,275
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
The problem with auto pump is pumping out oily water from engine bay or whatever.
You can, quite rightly IMHO, pick up a big fine for this. Even in grubby old Portsmouth.
It's not necessary to pump out a pint or two of water in the marina.

So I'd suggest either keeping the bilge and engine sparkly clean, or setting the float switch high enough that it won't pump out trivial amounts of water.

People had yachts long before auto bilge pumps were in every chandlers.
The proper thing to do is to stop the boat from leaking and do whatever is necessary to have proper confidence in skin fittings etc.

People see these things in chandlers and think they're a must-have. They're actually pretty crap on a yacht and maybe offer false confidence about surviving leaks.
They are great for pumping the rain out of open boats etc. But poor long term reliability. Floats stick, pumps seize. They fill with detritus and either stall or don't pump much.
The proverbial dry yacht with 'dust in the bilge' will probably choke its pump in the first few gallons.

I've also heard of a boat sunk by the auto bilge pump, because the hose from the pump was in the sea. The water ran back every time the pump stopped, eventually the battery went flat and the sea siphoned into the boat!
There's always someone who see's other side ... and forgive me for saying .. what a crock !!

I have a 1970's boat that is not suspect or leaking ... but having had water collect in her from as simple as leaves blocking the cockpit drains .. I am VERY HAPPY to have my Auto Pump ...

When my boat was in UK and I only got to her maybe 1x every 3 - 4 months - do you honestly think I was going to leave her without it ??

Sorry but I consider your post ill-founded as a newcomer to our great hobby may just end up with a problem if they follow your 'advice'.

I'd really like to know how many boats have sunk due to 'backflow' through a pump !! Who is stupid enough to have outlet below waterline ??? Only time my outlet is below water is when I'm sailing and boat lays over to starboard ... but I have a valve that I close before sailing anyway .. if I forget - I soon notice the sink filling !!

It comes down to 'peace of mind' ... the fitting of an auto pump is no hardship ... set up correctly is not a problem for battery or boat.

Its like the old Insurance saying :

Insurance - Its better to have and not need it ... than to not have it and need it

We shall agree to seriously differ on this subject.
 

KREW2

Active member
Joined
20 Jan 2005
Messages
4,624
Location
Dorset
If you'r going to leave it on auto it's best to have two battery banks. A constant live then wired direct to the dedicated leisure battery only.
 

Refueler

Well-known member
Joined
13 Sep 2008
Messages
9,275
Location
Far away from hooray henrys
If you'r going to leave it on auto it's best to have two battery banks. A constant live then wired direct to the dedicated leisure battery only.
Depends on where boat is and facilities available. For months my boat sat with one battery because I had mains available to run a charger via timer ...

Even my mobo with small 7A/hr SLA has a 10W solar panel keeping that full .... boat is open and rain collects ... but when I go to boat ... battery is full and powers my nav lights / spotlight as well ...
 
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