Help: dedicated bilge pump worth it?????

-- Last Updated: Apr-17-09 9:54 AM EST --

Hoping to have some help here on this great board. Do folks still feel it is worth it to have a dedicated bilge bailing method, i.e. like the Whale Compac 50?

I am concerned that in really rough stuff if I dump and forced to do a wet re-entry, I want to be responsible to self rescue and empty my boat super fast so I can come to the aid of others. Or, god forbid, I am solo and despite forecast and all precautions I am caught in nasty conditions.

I find it less than great to use a hand bilge with skirt off and both hands on pump. It is like relying on the a gps and the battery fails.

Do you all find this to be true? Most foot pumps like the gusher only pump 2 gallons a minute, way slow and give me calf cramps.

The Whale Compac 50 can do from 11-14 gallons a minute with one hand.

What say you all on this? Yes, this situation is not frequent but, still, might this be worth having? Is there anything better. I do not wish to go back to electrics.


I suspect it is like alot of things, it
is not worth it until you really need it. I know people who have never used their compac 50’s. When was the last time you unintentionally came out of your boat? If your roll, brace, and sculling are very strong you likely will not be out of your boat. The apparatus congests the cockpit, making entry more difficult. This being said, I would like one for my boat, but that’s just me. Bill

nice to have,but not critical
I recently got a new boat with a custom bulkhead (moved sternward about 8 inches) and a foot pump on the bulkhead. Only once (before getting this boat) have I had a situation where it would have helped and it may be a while before I need it again. But having the foot pump and a smaller cockpit full of water can help for a re-enter and roll in rough water. Clearly this is more true if you paddle in rough water alone since otherwise rafting up isn’t a bad option for pumping. Also hand pumps are generally faster.

I wouldn’t bother, but that is just me
I have the hand pump with the large discharge, and spend a half a day every year tipping, doing a self rescue and bailing the boat out.

If you keep the paddle with the paddle float blown up and attached and put a little lean on that side while you are pumping you would have no problem.

there are so many safety devices available if you carried them all, you would have no room for yourself.




– Last Updated: Apr-17-09 10:57 AM EST –

It would seem the replies you get will vary widely based on individual paddling geography. Those usually paddling in groups inland or hugging the coast would probably rely more on assisted rescues and stabilizing each other while pumping.

I would see the greatest benefit of the pump mentioned for solo open water paddlers far from shore, whose recovery is a re-enter and roll.

comes from my BCU guy
Thanks for these thoughtful replies. The motivation for this has come from my early mentor coach, Steve Maynard, an internationally known 5 star paddler, and rare 5 star coach.

Steve has an incredibly dry humor and is totally humble but fiercely clear and believes in self honesty to the max, especially if you will be leading.

He told me, Evan, do not think of recovery and rescue as a group function. Groups can be safer or more dangerous. Never count on an assisted rescue. And as a leader, be the first self rescue and don’t use too much energy doing it.

SOOOOOOOOOO. Thus this post. I have used my hand pump in really rough stuff, in a group, and it really scared me just how hard it was to get water out while inflating a paddle float bag, water coming into the cockpit, getting the skirt on most of the way and pumping out.

staying afloat, and drifting away from the group in the water. etc.

So, maybe I will just appease Steve’s nagging push for me to sort this out and get the darn compac 50 and be done with it. I will make sure it does not complicate the cockpit though!

Fortunately, my new tiderace Xcite has enough height/depth in the cockpit that I amy be able to do this easily.

Thanks, and more comments super welcome! Each day is an opportunity to get alternative ways of looking at things and knowledge is indeed power!

The recommendation I got

– Last Updated: Apr-17-09 12:20 PM EST –

When ordering my first composite boat from Tom Bergh (MIKCo) I asked about having a foot pump installed and he recommended the Attwood Water Buster instead. (He noted it was what Steve Maynard used.) It fits in the day hatch, you can drop it in the boat, turn it on, put your spray skirt back on and keep going. It also has the advantage of not being mounted, so you can drop it in another paddler's boat (which I did during 4* training off MDI).

It is available through many marine suppliers:

Holly Smokers!

– Last Updated: Apr-17-09 12:31 PM EST –

Totally forgot Steve recovered three paddlers who all went down at the same time with the Atwood, and then towing all of back three miles against the current, chop, and 3 foot wind waves on top of 11 foot swell.

It does have the advantage of dropping it in another paddler's boat too. I think I even have the original nicad rechargeable batteries and charger too. yikes.


Two baby foot pumps in tandem

Here is an idea Brian Nystrom gave me some time back. Put together two baby foot pumps! Whale makes the:


each of these foot pumps has 4 gallons per minute output. If two put in tandem, could maybe get 8 gallon per minute flow. This is about as good as best hand pump and would allow spray skirt on, both hands on paddle.

No batteries. Very little weight and take less room in cockpit.

I use a foam bulkhead footrest so could easily afix these into the foam and against the bulkhead.

Hmmmm, maybe a new project or maybe give it a rest and take the Atwood and be done with it.

that’s a great recommendation, under $50 shipped!

I bought one of these and have used it a lot, just not in my kayak. I thought it was a bit large compared to smaller ones that could, with some doing, be made more permanent and automatic.

That said, i couldn’t begin to really say how many hours of use I’ve put on mine and I am still on the same set of batteries.

The hose did come loose and needed to have a hose clamp to keep it in place.

I attached a garden hose to it so i could move the water further away and I was very surprised at the reduced flow. This wouldn’t be a problem in a kayak.

While I have not used it in a kayak, don’t have a day hatch, overall i would give it a B rating o quality and performance.


San Rafael

I have it

– Last Updated: Apr-17-09 2:55 PM EST –

I have the Attwood battery operated pump. I will bring it on our Hudson journey tomorrow.

Good idea
Thanks!! Clamp is a good idea. Diameter and length do make a differerence to flow rate.

1200 GPH
Bilge pumps work great in whitewater canoes. I use 1200 GPH pumps powered my a small 12 volt battery. I just finshed potting a couple of switches for upcoming installations. I know one guy who installed 2 1200 GPH pumps in an Esquif Nitro. Didn’t take him long to pump out a canoe. It did look like a fire fighting tug when he fired it up though.

The fun part is to pump your boat out when you get lined up on a kayak paddler.

deck pump
I’ve got a Valley boat that came to me used, with the deck mounted Henderson pump. It does take some room in the cockpit, but it simply takes a little getting used to for re-entries. (You can’t slide in the cockpit on your belly, and then roll over onto your butt, but I can’t do that with my ocean cockpit anyways.) The pump is plenty fast. I can re-enter and roll, and empty my boat at least as fast as when using a hand pump, and I can do it with the skirt closed, and keeping one hand on the paddle. It’s not as good as hands-free, but the paddle can still be ready for a brace if needed, and you could operate the pump with both hands on the paddle shaft if you wanted to.

I think the battery pumps are a good idea, from what I’ve seen. I think I’d keep it secured behind my seat though. It seems to me that having it in the day hatch would make for some difficult maneuvering in a dicey situation.

re. Attwood
I went through three in various manners of abuse. Don’t let it sit in standing water after running as it will suck in water through the impeller seal when it cools down. Seal the push button cover. don’t drop it. You can replace the 3 D cells with three gel cell D cells boosting the voltage from 4.5v to 6v with more amp hours, or you can put in 5 rechargable C cells. I used Nicad but NimH would be better. The Attwood I did that to didn’t burn out but it really threw some water, if the regular D alkaline version made a 3’ stream the boosted version sent a 5’ stream.

It is so great to have these ideas

– Last Updated: Apr-17-09 11:50 PM EST –

It is great to hear these different experiences and ideas. It is a great opportunity to see these issues in new ways.

My head has shifted around to understanding I want something for myself and something that will help my fellow paddlers, and to make it easier for them to help me!

I like the Atwood, as Steve Maynard is s full time coach and leader, it makes sense for him to always carry it and to keep the batteries charged. I see for many the electrical versions can be great and dependable, but I want to go with mechanical for now.

For me, I think I will either get the Whale compac 50 or the two gusher foot pumps. Thanks to the posts, I see that the compac 50 requiring only one hand could be fantastic. Or I may try for the whole deal by going with the two foot pumps and get the hands free deal and while pumping out I am staying with the pod and helping others faster.

When we head to Maine, Rhode Island or a big day on Lake Champlain or Lake George, I will bring the best hand pump too, like the Seattle Sports 09 super pump, 8 gallons per minute stainless steel shaft.

Thanks all!

I’m no electritian
I have noticed in my camera that NiMh batteries take twice as many pictures, but only last for a few days, used or not. They don’t hold a charge in storage well. For an emergency pump, maybe some other cell would be better?

Electric Bilge Pumps are great additions

– Last Updated: May-15-14 9:45 PM EST –

Check out this site for lots of info on Electric Bilge Pumps for Canoes & Sea Kayaks.

Blue Water Kayak Works offers an AWESOME electric bilge pump that rocks and empties a boat completely in a couple minutes. Rechargeable batteries, lightweight and compact. Check out the website!