The Importance of Doing Routine Checks on Your Boat

Despite having an automatic bilge pump which should clear the bilges if there’s ever a leak, it still pays to perform regular inspections under the floor! After spending a few days away from the boat,

Despite having an automatic bilge pump which should clear the bilges if there’s ever a leak, it still pays to perform regular inspections under the floor!

After spending a few days away from the boat, I returned to a scene that seemed, on the surface at least, to be quite normal. I routinely turn off the water pump, but never the bilge pump, when I leave the boat for a few days, just in case we have another problem with the pipework.

When I returned to the boat, I turned the water pump back on and it took a few seconds to repressurise. Weird I thought but not completely unusual. I then went about unpacking the food I’d brought back to the boat and started to think about settling down for the evening.

I’m not even sure why I thought to lift the flooring to check the bilge, it isn’t necessarily something I do on a regular basis (although you really should) because I have an automatic bilge pump and that will be making a noise if there’s ever a problem, right? right?

So anyway, I lift the floor and am confronted with a good 12 inches of water, the bilge pump is submerged, as is the water sensor, but it isn’t doing anything. The breaker looks fine but I reset it anyway, at which stage the magic pump bursts into life and gallons of (fresh) water are unceremoniously dumped overboard.

What had happened? Well, it looks like a problem with the shower sump had caused a short and thus a breaker to trip (they’re both on the same circuit) and even though it was still showing as alive, it certainly wasn’t.

I have since replaced one pump (in the shower sump) and also fixed a leak from the shower/heads sink which was adding to the problem with a slow but regular drip drip drip.

Had I not checked this, had I not returned when I did but stayed away for another couple of weeks, then the boat itself would have probably started to sink!

The lesson of the day, check your bilges regularly! And ideally, have your bilge pumps on different circuits if at all possible.

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