A much greater problem

Published: Friday, 10 May 2019

THERE seems to be an assumption that bilge pumps are just to remove water that comes into the boat via the stern tube, writes Mike Todd.

However, a much greater problem—at least in terms of its effectis through rainwater that falls on the open deck and cannot discharge overboard, either through blocked, or partially blocked, drainage channels or simply because of the sheer quantity of rain.

Almost full of water

Not long after buying our previous boat we returned to it to discover the engine compartment almost full of water. You can imagine our consternation and, later, puzzlement when, having emptied it out, there was no obvious ingress. It was winter and the general conclusion was that it was just rain on the open semi trad stern deck.

At that stage there was only a manual bilge pumpyou can imagine how quickly an automatic one was fitted! The problem never recurred.

Water on one side

Our present boat has a dry stern tube arrangement and, in general, the bilges remain quite empty. However, just recently we returned to the boat to find quite a bit of water in one sidethe opposite side remained bone dry. The water in that compartment has (at present) to be removed the hard way as the bilge pump does not drain that part, only useful if it overflows from one compartment to that under the stern tube.

As we set off cruising and when it rained we observed the deck drainage channels being overwhelmed. We did then clean them out but there was not much blockage. Yet if there had been a much larger influx, the automatic bilge pump would, hopefully, have prevented a much more serious problem.

Needs checking

A useful reminder that the engine compartment needs checking even when you might otherwise think it simply a chore! As for the suggestion that a bilge pump is not necessary . . .