Aug 6, 2012, 10:06 AM
Post #1 of 2
From Donald Street:
Inadequate bilge pumps
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After 48 years in the insurance business, I know there are a huge number of unnecessary claims filed for flooding or sinking caused by inadequate bilge pumps. After recently reading about the loss of the Hanse 370e Outer Limits in May, 330 miles from Bermuda, it has prompted me to distribute this letter to Scuttlebutt along with several prominent print magazines in hopes of getting sailors to stop, think, and install proper bilge pumps.
The crew of Outer Limits discovered a leak, and then took the easy way out, abandoning ship and letting the insurance company pay for the total loss. The fact that with no one on board to pump, the boat remained afloat for 48 hours, shows the bilge pumping system on Outer Limits was grossly inadequate as the crew of FOUR felt they could not keep ahead of the ingress of water long enough to sail back to Bermuda. The fact that the boat floated with no one pumping for 48 hours shows that the boat could not have been leaking that badly.
If Outer Limits had a proper bilge pump, a permanently mounted Edson 25gpm diaphragm bilge pump, or the same pump mounted on a board as a movable emergency bilge pump, the crew of Outer Limits would have been able to move 1,500 gallons an hour. With four crew, one hour pumping and three hours off, that would certainly have kept Outer Limits afloat long enough to motor sail 330 miles back to Bermuda or close enough to have a rescue boat come out and meet them with pumps.
Also the crew was not very resourceful. If they had disconnected the salt water intake from the sea cock, made a strum box out of a tin can, put the intake into the bilge and used the engine as a bilge pump as long as the engine ran they would be able to stay ahead of the ingress of water with no physical effort. Using the motor as necessary to keep the bilge lever down they could halved motor sailed the 330 miles back to Bermuda or at least close enough for a rescue boat to come out with pumps.
If a boat has adequate HAND bilge pumps it is amazing what can be done. In 1995, the 46' engineless yawl Iolaire en route Bermuda to the Azores, while hove to in a gale/storm, started leaking like a sieve. After pulling up floorboards and emptying the forepeak, the leak was traced to a broken stem bolt, in the only area not checked on her 94/95 rebuild. By using one of Iolaire's TWO 25 gpm Edson diaphragm bilge pumps, we were pumping between 300 to 400 gallons an hour for two days until we reached Horta.
Once alongside the dock, we plugged into shore power, bought an electric pump, rigged up a float switch and off to Cafe Sport for a few pints. We then semi dried out on the ramp (no hauling facilities in Horta in 95), replaced the broken stem bolt and continued on our way.