Latest News: Forums Cruising Self bailers

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  • #3594

    I have a hull with no self-bailers. It seems to me that they would be a good idea, but of course to fit them I would have to cut quite big holes in the hull, which makes me very nervous.

    What is the view of cruising people?

    Are they indispensable? If I take a drill to the hull, am I likely to crack it all the way across? Do metal fittings need extra glass reinforcing in addition to the original hull?

    Any advice, anyone?

    Bob Harland

    It really depends on the type of sailing you do. If it is anything from estuaries plus then I would consider bailers pretty important. Having said that, going to windward you will not go fast enough for the bailers to work. So you should carry a pump.
    A simple hand held pump will only cost a few pounds – and you don’t need to cut holes in the boat for one.

    Bob Harland


    As very much a family day sailor with an overloaded boat I have NEVER got my self-bailers to work satisfactorily, I would be more than happy without them. A pump would be a good compromise for me. Depends how fast you sail as to whether they work but I find them stiff and a source of frustation………..even when I think I’ve been going well they don’t seem to work. Speed is not my highest priority so I tend to drain anything out at the end and keep them shut during. Interested what others say but as Bob says it depends what kind of sailing you want to do. If you capsize they will not help you empty your boat until you have done perhaps 15 minutes of bucket and pump (not that I have capsized other than in tranquil bouyancy tank test conditions 😀 ).


    I have to disgree – I removed my pump and fitted bailers. They work fine on any point of sailing, but do need a certain minimum speed. You will also find that the leeward bailer does not work in anything with the wind forward of the beam as it is the high pressure side of the centreboard. Don’t forget you can fit them on the centre chine like the Worlds where they are extremely effective, but they will not of course drain water from the boat when ashore. Pumps are no good after a capsize – big bucket and a strong motivation are best. A small hand held pump is good for removing the dregs when boat tenting though.


    Okay Matt, I’ll have to have another go but they are so stiff I will have to give them a proper overhaul first……..I usually take chunks out of my hands as there are proud bolt ends facing upwards that skewer my fingers when the bailers finally drop. Maybe I only tested the leeward bailer on a close reach and it wasn’t opening when I felt I was going fast enough…….as for the plastic pump I was really impressed this summer when I actually gave it a bit of lubrication………..when I do get the bailers to work I will feel I have graduated! Except then it will be the spinnaker challenge……..the bridge shooting challenge………..the round Hayling challenge……….
    cheers Dave


    Thank you all for the interesting discussion.

    It seems pretty clear that a pump is the first priority to add to the bucket I always carry, before I worry too much about making holes in the bottom.

    However, there is a second issue to do with holes (rather than self-bailers).

    Margarate Dye recommends a strong point fixed at the foot of the bow, and indeed one of my neighbours in the dinghy park has got one. But his W is wooden, and the strong point is formed by a bolt right the way through the thick piece of wood inside the hull behind the bow stem (I’m a bit shakey on the correct terms for all these parts of a hull).

    Is it possible to fit something similar to a glass boat after it has been built?

    Access to do the fitting would, of course, be a tricky problem, but assuming that can be solved, is it practical to get enough strengthening to support a ring that can be used to haul the boat up onto the launching trolley or up a beach on rollers?


    I have also been looking at putting a metal eye on the bows of my Mk II GRP W. I have sent my daughter inside the ‘forepeak’ to see if she can reach the area where the bolts would come through, and she can.
    But then I have lacked the courage to drill holes and put an eye in place, just in case!
    The rational part of me says there has to be a large wooden post there, so an eye should be fine, but I have yet to pluck up the courage to drill and then attach the winch and pull my boat out by this eye!
    Thinking about it, the Canadian Ws all have an eye at the front, so it must be do-able. I think I shall check my daughter still fits (I sent her in last year) and if so shall set this up before she grows too tall. (mind you, she did ask that next time I clean the area before sending her into it!!)
    Will let you know the results as and when.
    Has anyone else fitted an eye to the bows?


    Presumably, as your daughter was up the fore-peak last year, then this year it must be much cleaner?

    Or did you forget to ask her to clean it last time? If so, she should enjoy the challenge of cleaning it this time, just in case there is a next time!!

    You could always check with your insurers! “I have put a ring on the front of the boat, if I pull the front of the boat off while winching onto the trailer, will I still be covered?”


    Ah! yes, how clean is it now…? hhmm, might need to remind myself about that…. and probably will need to give it an EXTRA clean before sending her into there! 😉


    I don’t have a bow eye to recover my boat. What I do have though is; I use my mooring warps to form a loop that goes right round my boat. The loop is held at the transom by a couple of pieces of string to stop it sliping down. I adjust the length so that it is quite low down under the bow, maybe a foot back from the waterline to allow for stretch. I then attach my mainsheet as a purchase, remembering to rig the pulley system “to advantage” in other words pull in the direction you want the boat to move, and off we go. This works with the world, woodie and marks in between. My daughter Kate at 14 was able to recover the boat with me just guiding and her doing all the work. Much easier than living with the “Is it strong enough?” thought every time you hook on to the bow eye.

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