I wish someone made a waterproof electric hand (i.e., hand-held vs mounted) kayak pump

I’m just a little surprised this doesn’t exist. I like the idea of an electric pump, especially when I’m practicing serial wet exits/re-entries, but I’m too apprehensive to start drilling into my expensive boat and maybe not doing the electronics correctly, etc. Also, one of the oft-mentioned downsides of an electric pump is that you can’t use it to pump someone else’s boat out. A hand-held electric pump would negate that criticism.

Tera pump just waterproof it.

I have been thinking about this for some time as well. Here are my thoughts, in case it gives you ideas. I am pursuing it more as an armchair exercise at this point, but it is fun to try and engineer it.

The closest commercially available one I have found is this one:

Water-Buster Battery-Powered Pump | West Marine

But it seems too bulky and fussy to me.

I suspect that with a bit of ingenuity one could fabricate one that was made of the typical built in components, but made to be portable. A kit like this gets you most of the way there:

(2) The EK Integrated Electric Kayak Bilge Pump - YouTube

I would swap out the switch for this one:

Water Witch Submersible Electronic Bilge Pump Switch 101 | Defender

Attaching it to the pump housing.

However, I have not figured out the hose routing issue.

Putting it under the edge of the spray skirt seems problematic to me, but is one option that satisfies the objective of not drilling holes. Everything would be contained behind the seat. Water gets in, pop the spray skirt, as you would do with a hand pump.

But that doesn’t allow you to attach your skirt and let the pump work while you continue on your way. And that seems like a big advantage of the built in pumps, to me. I suppose one could come up with a detachable hose fitting through the deck, so you could do either. In your boat you would have to drill one hole that the hose attaches to. And for the risk of drilling that one hole, you have the functionality of a built in pump. And that includes the ability to save some weight when you don’t need it, since the whole thing comes out easily.

If needed for another boat, you detach the hose, put the pump in the other boat, and use it with the spray skirt partially detached. But that is where I have stalled out on ideas…

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I believe I remember seeing a spray skirt with a sealable opening for a hand pump. That might prove to be a possibility, just add a fitting to a spray skirt.

Down the skirt tunnel is the most common if you have a hand pump and the water is such that you don’t wish to open up.

I personally prefer foot pumps.

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I liked having an electric bilge pump in one of my prior kayaks. My current yak has inadequate space in the cockpit for a similar set up, so, I, too, looked for a handheld pump. I didn’t find anything I liked and decided to build one.

Shouldn’t be that hard. Pump, battery, switch and hose. Floatation was an afterthought. My crude attempt worked well until the switch failed. The switch is buried in closed cell foam, so not that easy to change. Size-wise, my contraption is too big, and it’s ugly.

I figured if I could get something working, I could refine and repackage, but it’s been two years and I still haven’t gotten around to it.

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Rule makes a pump that turns itself on and off when it is wet or dry. It has electronic detectors that sense when the pump is surrounded by water. Seems ideal for a handheld pump because it eliminates the need for a switch. I found it worked well but turned itself off when there was still an inch or two of water left to pump out. Additionally, it’s on whenever in water. So, let’s say it’s a hot day and you roll your boat over to take a swim. The pump is going to turn on and pump water even though the whole rig is submerged. That seems undesirable. I don’t know how the water witch switch works, but I like the idea of the paddler deciding if the pump should be on, so favor some sort of manual on/off.

Sweet!! I’ve also been thinking about a DIY version and have all the parts I need, but don’t know if I will ever get around to even the Mark I version. Do you have a fuse in yours? I’ve seen that in a couple of on-line articles about installing an electric pump but not sure what kind of fuse to get or if it matters where in the circuit you install it.

Amazon has lots of 2-D-Cell battery powered liquid transfer pumps like this (scroll down on the page to see similar items). Perhaps you could put a plastic bag over the switch and battery compartment on top and seal it with tape to make the electrical part waterproof:

If this link doesn’t work, just search for " Portable Transfer Pump Battery Operated".


Yes, there’s a fuse. I didn’t know how to size the fuse (in amps) and used what was lying around in the parts bin. I thought about simplifying by going no fuse, but we hear about LI battery issues so I used a fuse. It’s on the positive wire in the food storage container with the battery.

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There was a battery powered pump some years ago. Coaches would carry it at times, l have it somewhere in the basement. Worked quite well. I probably should find it to have w me in Maine.

Did it look similar to the one in Wolf’s post?

Bigger and bulkier than Wolf’s post. But also automatic. Throw it into water, uncoil the tubing and it started pumping

perhaps like this one?

Water-Buster Battery-Powered Pump | West Marine

Yes, that one. Though maybe you do push a button and I was wrong about that.

Maybe you could just keep one of these in a Pelican box.


They also make a submersible pump with a separate battery box meant to be kept dry and they make a stick pump that’s too big for you.

Likewise, I ordered and have one the shelf an electric bulkhead mounted bilge pump. Can’t bring myself to cut a hole into the Sterling.

As a solo paddler, my worry is not about helping someone else with a handheld but that I can’t pump myself out with a kayak that is so unstable that my hands have to stay on the paddle to brace and stay upright (video where I had to deal with an imploded skirt).

This discussion reminds me that I should install the pump in my Dagger Stratos which will be my (solo) rockplay boat.


Light bulb going off in my head:

I have an old sump pump…

…extra car battery…

…and a tingling distant memory of slipping on a wet rock while using an electrofisher.

Test whatever you make before you find yourself stuck - unable to move a muscle - in the water with it.

I also believe such a pump would be an excellent seller for anyone who started making one. Kerosene pumps used to heaters and sometimes for gasoline have been around for 40 years, but no one is making one that is waterproof.
Here is what I am talking about:
One made in this way but with a waterproof handle and pump head would be a great things to offer. Police style flashlights are made that can withstand emersion down to 15 feet and such a battery head and housing around the pump motor would be easy to make for a good shop.

There are some submersible DC pumps on amazon. This one is 3 + gpm but it says no salt water. Also not sure if D cells can handle the 1.25 amp draw. https://www.amazon.com/Submersible-Brushless-Fountain-Circulation-Aquarium/dp/B08NPD8DZ2