foot powered bilge pump

I’m thinking about installing a foot action bilge pump in my 17 1/2ft fiberglass kayak based on the Sea Kayaking Mag. Article “Foot Powered Bilge Pump,” Feb. 2003 (on line). Has anyone tried this? If so are you happy with the results?

foot pumps are
the cats meow of pumps, I sold a P&H boat with a custom bulkhead and a footpump. It gets me all misty just thinking about that boat. Well anyway, yes I think having a pump you don’t need to have your hands on makes a lot of sense. What type of bulkheads do you have? Glass, plastic, foam? It won’t work unless you have a solid surface to mount the pump to.

I have often been tempted by
a foot pump. For me the only downside is the extra weight on my already heavy boat. Good safety feature though. Never done it though.

I would still carry a hand pump. That is my decision for me. I keep mine on a nylon webbing clipped to a fastex clip on a deck fitting) Might need to help a friend.

Bulkheads and such

My bulkheads are foam so my plan is to glass in a plywood panel to mount the Guzzler pump. I will make it strong as I can imagin a leg could put a lot of preasure on it with the excitement of a roll. Without ready access to marine plywood I’ll use CDX and make sure it’s sealed.

Question! What kind of pump did you have in your P&H boat and what volume of water did it pump on each stroke? Seems like hand pumps put out a higher volume per stroke.


I am concerned about the additional weight. With replacing the foam bulkhead, pump, hoses and misc. hardware, the installation will add about 5lbs or so to the boat. I plan to use the YAK for touring which will require carrying a lot of weight (tent, sbag, food, water…). While the mass is unwelcome, the addition of a pump probably won’t make that much diffence to an aready heavy boat.

foot pump and b’head strength
First, the foot pump is the only logical choice for an intermediate or advanced solo paddler. If I come out of my boat due to conditions then the chances of my performing a successful rescue and being able to pump the boat with a hand pump in the conditions that caused me to come out of my boat with both hands on the paddle is slim to none. While still challenging to maintain balance while using the foot pump it has a much greater likelyhood of a positive outcome.

I’d be concerned about just sticking the plywood against the foam as you’re still relying on the structural strength of the Lexel (or whatever your manufacturer used to glue the foam in place) to support the force of the pumping action. I’d be inclined to make a couple of L brackets that you could bolt to the hull on either side (and maybe on the deck too) that you would then mount the plywood to.

good luck

it works well
The bosworth guzzler works well for me. I did the sea kayak mag installation. I do suggest that you buy the hose directly from bosworth if you go with the 1" ID hose. I could not find it and had to order from them. I didn’t really like paying shipping on it when I could have added it on in the first place had I known. Also, I had to search quite a bit for the stainless steel hardware and stuff. I’m sure you will find everything you will need-but it may take a little shopping around.


Hose size

– Last Updated: Apr-07-04 2:36 AM EST –


My pump arrived and I made the pilgrimage to West Marine store for 1" hose and thru-hull. As you found out, they don't carry either in that size. Same with Boater's World and two other stores. They do carry
1 1/8" and 3/4" as standard stock.

I would recommend that anyone thinking about the Sea Kayaker mag. installation consider ordering the pump with 1 1/8" input/output fittings so accessories will be available locally. Only down side I can see is the installation will take up a little more space and the hole in the hull will be slightly larger. (Any hole in a boat makes me nervous!)

If sticking with the original design, ordering 1" hose from Bosworth, as you did, would also be wise. Also, 1" thru-hull and misc. associated hardware are available mail order online.

Finally had to order my 1" thru-hull from a commercial marine supplier at a much higher price than local boating chain stores, if they had that size.

For those interested in the article, the address is as follows:

Pump install
It is a lot easier to order the Henderson kit plus the strum box from GRO. Somewhere way back when I posted an step by step abstraction of the Sea Kayaker article with some pearls from my own experience and other sources.

Correct link

Easier perhaps…
…but a LOT more expensive.

not that much more…
actually, the price difference may be less than you would think. It seems to me that I put about 150.00 into my bosworth pump installation and the pump from GRO is around 180.00 (if my memory serves me correctly).


Another option…

– Last Updated: Apr-08-04 4:30 PM EST –

Like many, I've always thought that water conditions rough enough to throw me out of my (sea) kayak would make using a two-hand bilge pump impractical. First you can't use your paddle for bracing and steering, and second, your skirt has to be unsecured which would just let more water spill in.

I thought about adding a foot pump, but the prospect and expense of adding a forward bulkhead solid enough to take the flexing required of the pumping action seemed too much to handle. Plus, I use my forward bow area for spare paddle stowage and I would loose that.

I came upon a solution that works for me - a submersible, battery operated pump. The one I purchase was from JC Whitney ( - yeah, I know they sell car stuff but they had this pump for $30, so go figure. It uses 3 D cells and pumps for about 5 hours. I put one behind my seat and plumbed the overboard with clear plastic tubing and a nylon thru-deck hose barb fitting from Home Depot. I also glued some tie down cleats next to it so the pump is secured in place during rolls and loading/unloading.

The best part about this system is that you can turn the pump on immediately and let it run while you are getting back in your boat. Then just leave it running while you snap your skirt back on and concentrate on staying upright.

Yes I know batteries die and motors short out, but you can get a leg cramp as well, so nothing is fool-proof. I just check my pump before every paddle and bring along a secondary dewatering device just in case. Total outlay for everything is around $40-45 including the tubing, fitting, tie down cleats and some JB Weld (glue).

If anyone would like pictures of my install please e-mail me at

The Bosworth pumps are ~$50…
…not $150.

might be…

– Last Updated: Apr-14-04 8:23 PM EST –

but, add up the cost of the pump, shipping, the cost of the 1" hose which is hard to find, (I had to order from Bosworth) shipping again, the stainless steel parts, the offset, the other do-dads... the cost escalates beyond what you would think it would... Thinking about it again I probably had more like $110.00 into all the parts and shipping. Then, I had 20-30 in tool costs which would be the same for either pump. I guess the one extra thing the "Bosworth" install would cost over the Hendersen is the time it takes to drive around and find all the little bits. Like the plumbing stand off, stainless steel parts, and neo. washers. I ended up doing lots of driving for everything... I would be curious to know if others have done this install for less than a hundred bucks.


recue pump
Hey thanks for the pump line, I think that this will great for be great as a rescue pump, just drop it into the righted boat and flip a hose over the side and work on getting the person back in.

I came across some Australian Kayak links, apparently Foot pumps and or Battery pumps are mandatory for Yaks over there.

foot pump. It did not have the volume of a handpump, but it worked really well. Much better than a hand pump for convenience. I would trade a handpump for a foot pump any day.

Foam is going to be tricky to work around. A plywood plank will help but it will be pretty hard to get that glassed in place. What’s your plan on that?

That is the atwood water-buster
pump also available at west marine etc etc. Nice to hear another endorsement. Some MIKCO folks take the weight plate out and wrap them in some foam for shock protection and floation.

I have the Attwood water-buster and
I did take off the metal plate. Gosh that almost seems to cut the pump’s weight nearly in half. Despite my best efforts I could not figure out how to wrap foam around the pump’s hose recess and still get the hose to seat when in storage. I ended up purchasing a float intended for the end of a water ski rope. Using a short tether (~8") I tied it to the Water-buster’s handle. Works just fine. I have no storage space behind my seat, so I just carry the rig in my day hatch.

Safe Paddling.