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Do I need an automatic bilge pump

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Jan 22, 2008
551
NorSea 27 Az., Doing the To-Do list
Carol,

We moved aboard our Nor'Sea 27 in 96. I think it's a good idea to have an auto pump! We have an auto and two manual ones. Our auto has worked for many years and I recently did a refit of it. At that time I did a short YouTube video (less than 5 min) about our pump and how I mounted it, and control it. You might want to view it at; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENhFlJ45GC8&feature=share&list=TL5U-ZoI96Xgw

Congrats on the new life style!

Greg
 
May 4, 2005
4,060
Macgregor 26d Ft Lauderdale, Fl
As others indicate, the float sw is the weak link.

in powerboats, with the constant pounding , the switch is being beaten by the wave action.

Sailboats take less abuse, so if its properly installed they should last a year of more. but don't count on it.


on larger boats, you find a automatic, and a 2nd automatic a few inches higher, AND an alarm. if you're 2nd high water pump and alarm goes off, you have a problem.

I would want one if I was leaving the boat in the water for any period of time.

and your insurance may require it.

-add a loop in the outlet hose and put it up high where it can't back feed. (stern).


PS: I love your marina! (when the bugs are not too bad).
 
Mar 1, 2012
1,820
1961 Rhodes Meridian 25 Texas coast
Thought Goodland sounded familiar. Spent my 69th birthday anchored off the marina, and restaurant. Had a nice dinner there. The Marina had a band playing that night too.
 
Oct 26, 2008
4,100
Starwind 27 Barnegat, NJ
I've never had that problem ...

Scott
Does your float keep the levels low enough automatically so that it does not spill out when heeled heavily?
My bilge is about 1' deep and relatively narrow, so it could be filled pretty high before it would spill when heeling. But the float operates so that when water reaches about the very top of the pump (the Rule pump that I linked too) it will come on ... that's about 3" high. It will pump down only about an inch before shutting off, the discharge is just barely an inch from the bottom so it's off long before the pump runs dry. I've never experienced water in the bilge that could escape due to heeling. It would probably have to be 8 or 9 inches high simply to get close enough to the floor to be a problem when sailing.

I guess I'm somewhat obsessive about making sure that the bilge pump runs properly and I have never had an issue, otherwise it would be fixed. Like I said, I've had flawless operation of the float switch and the pump for about 9 years. This year, I did have to replace the pump, though, because I must have clamped down too hard on the discharge and it eventually broke during one of my routine wipe-downs of the bilge. I frequently empty the water from the ice box and then I wipe down the bilge because I'm obsessed with noticing if water is entering the bilge from any other source.

Maybe the longevity is due to clean, fresh water and having no obstructions, but I've never had any reason to consider yearly replacement of any of these features. I do believe that the best functioning float switch is the separate kind shown in the link. I don't like those combo units and I think they will fail on a sailboat because they are prone to switching on when heeling.
 
Oct 6, 2007
660
Hunter 1982 H30 Cherubini Chicago (Burnham)
My bilge is about 1' deep and relatively narrow, so it could be filled pretty high before it would spill when heeling. But the float operates so that when water reaches about the very top of the pump (the Rule pump that I linked too) it will come on ... that's about 3" high. It will pump down only about an inch before shutting off, the discharge is just barely an inch from the bottom so it's off long before the pump runs dry. I've never experienced water in the bilge that could escape due to heeling. It would probably have to be 8 or 9 inches high simply to get close enough to the floor to be a problem when sailing.

I guess I'm somewhat obsessive about making sure that the bilge pump runs properly and I have never had an issue, otherwise it would be fixed. Like I said, I've had flawless operation of the float switch and the pump for about 9 years. This year, I did have to replace the pump, though, because I must have clamped down too hard on the discharge and it eventually broke during one of my routine wipe-downs of the bilge. I frequently empty the water from the ice box and then I wipe down the bilge because I'm obsessed with noticing if water is entering the bilge from any other source.

Maybe the longevity is due to clean, fresh water and having no obstructions, but I've never had any reason to consider yearly replacement of any of these features. I do believe that the best functioning float switch is the separate kind shown in the link. I don't like those combo units and I think they will fail on a sailboat because they are prone to switching on when heeling.

Similar experience on Dalliance. Primary bilge pump, float switch and cycle counter are six years old now. Secondary pump, float switch and alarm were added about three years ago. No problems yet. Just fresh water from the ice box and stuffing box go into the bilge. The bilge is cleaned a couple times during the sailing season and at fall haul-out after draining the water heater. I do put some antifreeze in the bilge when I winterize.

On my cycle counter soap box again - An automatic bilge pump can mask a small problem until it becomes a big one. The bilge pump cycle counter can tip you off to such a problem. I reset mine to zero when I leave the boat on Sunday evening. If there is some ice left in the ice box when I leave and there is a normal drip rate from the stuffing box, the counter will read no more than one cycle on the following Friday evening when I return to the boat. If it reads more than that, I know something is not right.
 
Jul 21, 2013
333
Searching for 1st sailing boat 27-28, 34-36 Channel Islands, Marina Del Rey
I would highly recommend an auto bilge pump.
 
Oct 26, 2005
2,057
- - Satellite Beach, FL.
And I have seen people tolerate a slow leak on their boat simply because the bilge pump is keeping up with it. s.
We have a wooden hull trawler canal neighbor with that attitude. Their once very nice boat has been on the bottom twice in as many years.
I don't consider that to be poor seamanship, more like NO seamanship!
 
May 24, 2004
5,885
CC 30 South Florida
Many folks think about an automatic bilge pump as providing a degree of safety but all it may provide is a false sense of security. A 500 GPH or 750 GPH pumps will be hard pressed to keep up with a broken hose or a small hole in the hull. The bilge is intended to act as a collection comparment for any water that may enter the hull. These are usually drainage from refrigerators, showers, wet towels and bathing suits, packing gland drip and any small leaks the boat may have. What an automatic pump offers is convenience. Instead of you having to check for the amount of water collected and turn on the pump an automatic one will do it for you. Most boats your size dont have showers and will likely only have ice in the cooler when you are aboard. These boats came from factory with a switch to be operated mnanually and that is a perfectly good system. Your boat seems to be dry so to answer your question, "no" an automatic pump is not a requisite but by the same token other than a few $$ there is no reason to avoid installing one. I personally like the convenience of having one. For safety I frequently inspect all hoses and clamps and take care of any leaks which may develop.
 
Mar 26, 2009
3,195
1976 formosa 41 yankee clipper santa barbara. ca.(not there)
bounty went down due to pumps not able to keep up--- real boats sink if not have enough pump capacity.
automatic bilge pumps only work when you lave them on to use 1.9 or so amps every hour. often these are turned off to save electricity.. oops....
my boat has 2 bilge pumps that are a lil small for the quantity of water that could possibly enter boat if damage to hull has occurred..oops--but , even a 3500 gph wont keep up with a whale strike or a collision.
if you dont have pumps--add them. things fail.
even a hand pump in cockpit to use as you sail is better than nothing. so is a bucket and a scared owner......
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks for the good info. I am learning a lot

thanks for the good info. I am going to get a bilge pump for sure and a back up
Carol
Hi Carol and welcome to SBO.

Automatic bilge pumps are a good thing to have because they are ready to work when you don't know and aren't there to catch the leaking seacock or cracked hose that could sink your boat before someone notices and reacts. Or while at sea!

For example my bilge pump does not see much regular action, however when checking the sump today I see that there is sea water in it! :eek: I check the sump regularly so I know it is a new problem and am definitely glad that it is there. If it hasn't been kicking on, I know that it is there if this pesky problem develops quicker than I can track it down.

Relatively cheap and easy to install too. Some owners insist on having a second/backup automatic bilge pump to protect against the first failing and leaving you without protection.

Good luck with the new boat and adventures with it.
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks for the info

I am learning a lot from this site and really appreciate everyone's help. I am definitly getting a bilge pump and a back up
Carol

Is "Freshwater holding tank" an oxymoron?
Catalina owners on this forum can provide specifics about this boat. I would add that an automatic function on a bilge pump is a good thing. But, even with it you cannot let down your guard with respect to monitoring possible water intrusion in the bilge. The float switches are prone to malfunction. You do not want to bet your boat on it.
For example, in my current boat a "Red solo cup" got into the sump - I wasn't involved- and it jammed the float switch. When I cleared it the pump ran for an uncomfortable amount of time. Stuff happens don't count on anything automatic.
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks for the input

This boat has had several owners who have glassed over many openings including some of the overflows from freshwater holding tank so it overflows straight in the bilge when it fills up It may have had one once but not now and there is now place to drain it overboard I am going to have to have it put back in
Carol

Welcome to SBO.

It is highly recommended that you have an auto bilge pump. On my boat my cooler empties into my bilge so when all the ice melts and I am not on the boat, it goes out instead of sitting in the bilge.

I would think there would be a bilge pump on a C27.
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks for the input

Thanks I am learning. I have an opening in the middle of the cabin that is about 6 Inches deep when you open it you can see the bolts that hold the keep in place and this area had no where to drain to the outside so I have been mannualy empying it with a hand pump and it gets very little water in it. I am going to have to get an above the waterline drain put in to pump it out because there is not one. On the cockpit there is a deck drain out the back but not at the lowest part of the boat
Carol

quote=seadaddler;1056185]Yes yes you should add a auto bilge pump and should not be too hard to do,my boat came with 2 auto 1 normal one and 1 high water with alarm and do check them both regularly.
I also have manual pump and have heard too many stories of boats sinking at the dock or out at sea.
I guess if you have a outboard others may say you don't need one but you should try some type of pump out manual or auto.
Tell us more info about your boat setup.
Nick[/quote]
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks

I am learing a lot from this thread. I am so new to living aboard a sailboat I really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me make sure my boat is safe. I don't want to wake up in the morning below water.
Carol



I believe this is one of the strangest threads I've seen on this site.
Of course you should have an automatic bilge pump on any vessel without a full time engine room crew.
If you cannot place the pump in the bilge, you must use another kind of pump (diaphragm or impeller type), remotely located and plumbed to the deepest point in the bilge. The float switch can then be located wherever necessary to turn the pump on when there is water in the bilge. Centrifugal bilge pumps will not work unless they are in water or if the input line empties of water; they are not self priming.
If you want to monitor the water coming in (and being pumped out) you can buy and install a meter that will display the number of cycles (times) the pump operates. You should have a switch which allows you to either operated the pump manually or automatically, and a proper circuit breaker or fuse in the power supply to the pump. And of course, the battery power to run the pump for several days or however long it is between visits to the boat.
Pretty simple stuff to install, but absolutely necessary, especially if you are not aboard 24/7.
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks

Thanks for the good information. I appreciate all the help I am getting from this site. I am a newbe and am learning
Carol

Hi Carol,

On your boat, you should have a bilge pump that will work both manually and automatically. Here is a 500 GPH Rule pump and separate float switch that I have on my 27' sailboat. It has been installed for 9 seasons and has never failed to operate properly. It should be wired to the switch panel so that it can be operated manually simply by flipping the switch. The float and the pump should also be wired directly to the battery so that the float switch will turn the pump on even when your battery switch is "OFF" and you have no power at the panel. You should have this assurance to cover any circumstance when you are away from your boat.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/product.do?part=117556&SHOPZILLA&CA_6C15C=613373747

Do not be tempted to purchase a pump that has the combination float switch integrated with the pump. My yard tried this on my boat during my first year of ownership when I replaced the old one and it failed miserably. They removed it and replaced it with the proper float switch such as you see in the link. The combo model failed within a month of installation. These may be fine for a powerboat that sits level almost all the time (I can get many years of service with this type of pump in my ski boat), but a sailboat that is heeling will end up burning out the float switch and/or pump or cause it to simply malfunction. From my experience, they simply don't work on a sailboat and will fail at the wrong time.

The separate float switch will not rise when heeling as long as it is oriented properly along the centerline of the bilge.

I know that this pump will work properly because I drain my ice box into the bilge (melting ice which I need to keep the beer cold). I typically empty the bilge manually with the panel switch because the float switch only comes on when the water is about 2 or 3 inches higher than the bilge discharge. It is designed this way to prevent the float switch from burning out the pump by running it dry. Every time I empty my bilge from the ice water, I wipe down the bottom and manually lift the float to verify that it is working properly. It has never failed.

I probably have not had any occasion within that past 5 years (since installing a PSS shaft seal) where the water has risen in the bilge high enough to rely upon the float switch (except when I have purposely filled the bilge) but I think it is absolutely necessary to have it in place.

Most sailboat owners also believe that there should be a separate back-up manual bilge pump that can be operated from the cockpit with a hand pump. I don't have one but intend to install one if I move the boat to a location where safety at sea is a more serious issue. For now, I simply have one of those plastic Beckson thirsty mates for my manual back-up pump.
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks

that was a great you tube video. I am excited about my life style change and really enjoying it and I really appreciate all the help I am getting from everyone on this site.
Carol


Carol,

We moved aboard our Nor'Sea 27 in 96. I think it's a good idea to have an auto pump! We have an auto and two manual ones. Our auto has worked for many years and I recently did a refit of it. At that time I did a short YouTube video (less than 5 min) about our pump and how I mounted it, and control it. You might want to view it at; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENhFlJ45GC8&feature=share&list=TL5U-ZoI96Xgw

Congrats on the new life style!

Greg
 
Jun 3, 2013
12
Catalina 27 Calusa Marina Goodland Fl
thanks

thanks for the info. I Am learning so much from this site. The bugs are a pain at dusk and dawn unless the wind is blowing but only for about another month then they will be gone.
Carol

As others indicate, the float sw is the weak link.

in powerboats, with the constant pounding , the switch is being beaten by the wave action.

Sailboats take less abuse, so if its properly installed they should last a year of more. but don't count on it.


on larger boats, you find a automatic, and a 2nd automatic a few inches higher, AND an alarm. if you're 2nd high water pump and alarm goes off, you have a problem.

I would want one if I was leaving the boat in the water for any period of time.

and your insurance may require it.

-add a loop in the outlet hose and put it up high where it can't back feed. (stern).


PS: I love your marina! (when the bugs are not too bad).
 
Jun 4, 2009
3,238
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
I am learing a lot from this thread. I am so new to living aboard a sailboat I really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me make sure my boat is safe. I don't want to wake up in the morning below water.
Carol
I have had very good service from the Sure Bail auto switches, which are considerably cheaper than Rule switches. They have a cage around them which is nice and can be tested without removal by turning the plastic piece that the wires run through, outside the cage. I would suggest the normal life of an auto-switch is about five years, perhaps less if there is fuel/oil in the bilge, though I've had them last twice that long.
You must have the switch installed fore and aft or it will cycle as the boat rolls, a real pain. I would also recommend at least a Rule 1500gph (they are pretty reliable so it should be a one time purchase) if you can use a submersible; it's probably a bit of over kill, but better safe than bailing with buckets.
 
May 24, 2004
5,885
CC 30 South Florida
Let's not confuse a gusher manual pump to be used in an emergency with the electric bilge pump used to expell incidental amounts of water that regularly enter the hull. A bilge pump is only intended to substitute a scoop cup and making it electric and further automatic it only enhances convenience. Now every boat should be equiped with a gusher pump to be operated from the cockpit if possible to arrest or delay a serious entry of water in an emergency.
 
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