Latest News: Forums Cruising Bailers and Bilge Pumps

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  • #4455

    A great weekend with lots of wind and at last a chance to test out our new reefing genoa (new spiral wound carbon aeroluff spar) all to great effect on our Mk1 GRP. However the big waves and wind meant we shipped an awful lot of water and its was hectic so difficult to bail – so much so that recovering the boat up the slipway was almost impossible. So, the next problem to solve is bailing afloat.

    I already have a pair of Elvstrom Maxi bailers but have not yet fitted them. I’ve read elsewhere on this and other forums, two is best, one either side of the center board casing due to the effects of the centerboard on water pressures on different tacks. However bailers dont work so well at lower speeds such as when beating hard downtide so I doubt they would have worked well this weekend as we spent most of the time beating against heavy weather (not very fast but great fun !)

    We’ve therfore decided on a belt and braces approach and to also fit a pair of whale bilge pumps under the gunwhales one each side near the rowlock mounts so we can pump out while beating regardless of which tack we’re on or how fast we’re going . I’ve opted for the through deck type as the handles are removable and its possible to mount them so the handles stick into the boat rather than through the deck so they wont get in the way when we dont need them see similar setup on a woodie here

    From this weekend’s experience it was obvious that the water we want to remove pools on the leward side of the boat if we dont ( or are unable to ) hike sufficiently to keep her flat ( which was most of the time ) so I’m thinking we need to site the strum boxes about 12″ or so from the centerboard on the opposite side as its respective pump but this arrangement will make the pumps less practical for other sailing conditions or pre-sailing use on the jetty.

    So, here are my questions:

    1. the water we pump out could easily be routed through skin openings to pump to the windward side of the boat on the same side as the pump which is by far the simplest to install ) but does of course mean breaching the hull. Does anyone have any other ideas or for example is it possible to excise this water via the centerboard casing instead ?

    2. How on earth does one route all the plumbing for the pumps to the opposite side without the floor starting to look like the outside of the Lloyds building. Ideally I’d like the pipes under the floor for asthetic and trip/snag hazard reasons but I would prefer to avoid cutting holes in the cross members which I presume would be significantly weakened by doing so ?

    3. Have I got this all wrong … ie should the pump collect water from its own side of the boat from as close to the centerboard as possible as this would certainly simplify the plumbing enormously ?



    Answering my own questions (have now fitted self bailers and two though-deck pumps ) since I had no replies prior to starting the work.

    1. Using the centerborad housing might be possible in the event of having a single pump mounted centrally on it but the extra pipework to go from gunwhale mounted pumps makes this impractical / ugly at best. Also there is a considerable problem of access in order to mount skin fittings to the case – far too difficult to do a good job without affecting the integrity of the centerboard case in my opinion.

    2. On my Mk1 grp there turns put out to be plenty of space to run the pipes once the floorboards were lifted – the cross members seem to be shaped with this in mind with huge gaps plenty for two 25mm reinforced pipes to run side by side.

    3.The wayfarer book says that the strum boxes should be mounted on the leward side when pumping from the windward side ( which was was I originally thought was going to be the most practical ) so thats what I have done.

    I mounted the Whale pumps just aft of the thwart under the side decks with inlet pipe going down the side of the boat and crossing to the other side just aft of the centerboard casing, strum box ended up being roughly 18″ from the opposite side of the boat. Outlet pipe runs directly backwards to a right angled skin connector. The whale pumps were set up so the plumbing looks identical both sides but is of course a mirror image ( ie the inlet/outlet is rotated 180 degrees on one pump only.)

    Self bailers are pretty well understood so I wont go into detail, these were mounted under the thwart forward of the cross member and as close to the centerboard housing as I could without getting into the thicker reinforced areas. One thing I hadnt expected was the varying thickness of the fiberglass which had to be leveled out to achieve a water tight fitting.

    Just filled the boat with a hosepipe and tested the pumps – about 40 pumps gets a 2 gallon bucket full and is much easier than the old lift pump to do the same and which would be almost impossible to use while sailing at the same time.

    Colin Parkstone

    Been racing and useing self bailers from Elvstrom for years, you should have no problem with any water that comes into the boat being cleared and they work well at what i would call low speed.


    Thanks Colin, yes indeed they do seem to work well. I’ve been used to the boat without any form of bailer so was alarmed initially at the water that seeps in when they are left open while the boat is very slow or hove to but it quickly clears once on the move again. We also tried the pumps while heeled and they work well too when there’s too much water for the self bailers to clear quickly. We also did some capsize tests and the boat took on a lot of water on one test in particular where we delibererately rolled it quickly both ways as it took on a double scooop of water; too much to clear by pumping in any reasonable timeframe; so a bucket is still a necessity but at least we have three methods now depending on just how much water we have shipped. Leaving the bailers open in the dinghy park and while bringing her ashore is a bonus too as the boat dries out much quicker than using the drain tubes.

    I’m going to put grids on the self bailers though; if the bitter end of a rope get sucked out it could hold the flap open and be very difficult to retrieve, other than that they seem very good.

    I was down at Lymington yesterday and noticed five Mk1/2 Wayferers moored together on the pontoon in the Haven. They didnt look to be regularly used and none had covers though a couple were fitted with whale pumps on the thwart and all had the transom bungs in but I couldnt get close enough to see how on earth they hadnt filled with water given the amount of rain recently; many of the similarly uncovered small rowing boats were full and had sunk. I’d be interested to know how these ‘self bail’ while moored.

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