Inexpensive Canoe Pump for Whitewater?

Have now expanded the home fleet to include a ww canoe…Coming from skirted little yaks and self-bailing duckies, I’ve never had to bother myself with such trivialities as a pump. And not looking to spend a fortune for something like a high-end lithium battery job. So short of a sponge, what can y’all ww canoe boys/girls out there recommend as the quickest way to pee-pee out me cockpit between rapid sets?

Bleach bottle bailer…

– Last Updated: Mar-22-11 2:13 PM EST –

Cut de bottom off, leave cap on an' attach wit a short string an' carabiner. Lot faster than a hand pump, but does require more dunkin' space than a pump in de narrow confines o' a WW boat


Here’s what I’ve got

… and I’m very happy with it

This battery

and two of these pumps from Walmart

(scroll down a bit)

I put the battery in this box:

You’ll still need a trickle charger. Can’t show you where I got mine because it was kind of a custom-job that someone gave me.

After that stuff you’ll need some 1 1/8 ID bilge pump hose (Lowes), a 5 amp fusable link and a switch (or 2 for 2 pumps) (wallmart or auto parts store)

I love having pumps. Sure it’s kind of cheating. But you only feel guilty the first time you throw the switch.

Bilge pump…
Sponge: Based on your described needs…forget about it.

Bleach bottle bailer: Better than a sponge.

Battery operated pump: Better than sponge & bleach bottle, but $$$$$

My choice: Learn how to quarter waves, and get a

NRS double action bilge pump with float. $19.95


quickest way?
The quickest way to dump the boat is to pull into an eddy, jump out, get under the boat as you invert it, lift to empty, toss it back in the water, and jump back in.

Of course, that gets tiring if you have to do it after every rapid. A lot of serious whitewater open boaters now use a 12V electric bilge pump and sealed lead-acid battery as Clarion suggests. If you are running serious rapids, especially long ones, an electrical pump can actually be a safety feature since it allows you to start bailing while you are still paddling the rapid.

If you don’t want to spend that much and don’t anticipate that kind of action, I prefer a sea kayak type mechanical piston bilge pump to a bleach bottle bailer, but the bleach bottle works fine, it just takes a bit longer.

I believe Harmony’s pump
pumps on both the up and the downstroke. Most pumps pump only on the upstroke. Possible the Harmony will move water a bit faster.

Consider wiring a Tygon exit hose on your pump and tying it to a thwart so you can work it with one hand.

Bleach Bottle
The cheapest most effective way that I know is to tip the boat over.

The bleach bottle comes next IF have room in the boat. My Outrage did not. My Encore does.

The mechanical bilge pump mentioned above is what most folks use round here and worked for me in the Outrage.

It does require two hands to operate.

Electrical pumps are becoming more popular here. I’ve wished I had one more than once.

For most of the rivers I paddle…
I just pull over and tip the boat over. There have been a couple of times when I couldn’t find an eddy, but that doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it takes a long to bail with a bleach bottle. I’ve thought about getting a pump, but it just seems like one more thing to weigh down the boat. Maybe I should try a bilge pump.

My Millbrook has very thin sides
so that I have to be careful tipping it to remove water. As for bailing, there isn’t a lot of room to slide a bailer to pick the water up. So I’m also trying pumps, and may go the electric route.

Composite is why I first went electric

One repair cost me more than the pump system did. Plus my local creek pretty much goes from big boulders to 5’+ deep. Pulling over to dump is not always easy. Now I’m spoilt.

Thanks all!
Guess I didn’t clarify, but cheap electric/battery is what I solely had in mind. The time-tested bleach bottle and git out and dump, I been well familiar with for sometime.

Sponge was just a joke–Now Maxipads, thar’s somegthing to experiment with!

The Atwood Tsunami 1200 (1200 gallons per minute) seems to be the most popular electric pump, but there are many others. It draws about 3.5 amps at 12V DC and should be fused with a 5 ampere in-line fuse.

Any 12V DC sealed lead-acid battery that is rated at more than 3.5 amp-hours should work to power it, but batteries come with different types of terminal connectors so make sure you have the right fittings. If you are using the boat in salt water you should use a waterproof switch and fuse holder. If you are only paddling in fresh water I am told a waterproof switch isn’t necessary although many use one, or a switch inside the battery box protected by a waterproof boot.

I got a Harmony pump in my touring kayak
–They’re great for broadside blasts in water fights with other boaters!(:wink:


– Last Updated: Mar-30-11 6:38 AM EST –

I added pics of my setup on webshots. There are some comments below each picture.

And for the perfectionists (my work isn't) I'm not the one who slopped the glue on the bottom of the boat. I bought it pre-broken in with the patches already installed.

Check out There are a number of old threads there pertaining to electric pump setups, including this recent one on waterproofing switches:

and one just posted that will hopefully draw some responses:

If you run a search, you will find others archived.

second (or third?) the Harmony stroker
Yeah, not as high-tech as a battery-op pump but my Harmony hand pump is something I would not be without in any boat. The amount of water that puppy moves is phenomenal – you can produce a stream like a fire hose. Plus, as mentioned, it is terrific for water battles.

cheap and simple

– Last Updated: Mar-30-11 7:47 PM EST –

though not nearly as effective as the real deal. I still like these however, have one for Aaron, one for me. Can go from boat to boat, rechargeable D-cells work well. Not great but a good help when your hands are full of paddle. I use this on my Shepaug and New Boston runs, Esopus too certain spots. Anyplace with drops and/or poppy wave trains. I know you remember NB!

Attwood waterbuster
I used one for years. It was simple and effective but much slower than other bilge pumps. It is 200 gph max and the smallest instaaled bilge pumps are 500 gph max.

but you can get them on amazon for less than $30 and just tie it in place and go.

Electric Bilge Pump - Whitewater Canoe

– Last Updated: May-15-14 9:46 PM EST –

These electric bilge pump kits are not cheap but I've heard they are very reliable.

Check out this website for lots of information on Electric Bilge Pumps for Whitewater Canoes.

The electric bilge pump kit uses a Attwood Tsunami T1200 with a 3.4 Ahr SLA battery or an optional 5 Ahr SLA battery.

Here some benefits from the website:

Benefits of having an electric bilge pump in your whitewater canoe

1) It saves energy not having to manually pump the water out

2) Less time spent pumping water out of your boat

3) More confidence to try harder lines

4) It allows you to go through whitewater rapids - not skirting around the edges

5) Dropping off a 4' ledge gets water in your boat - no fuss anymore

6) In continuous rapids - just flip the switch and keep the fun coming

7) It makes self rescue safer - by quickly jumping back in and pumping the water out in less than 2 minutes

8) Peace of mind knowing that a swamped canoe no longer means carefully maneuvering over to the river bank to empty it out

9) Front & side surfing are more enjoyable since you don't get excited about water collecting in the boat
Practicing eddy turns, peel-outs, S-turns, & backward moves are more enjoyable by spending less time bailing and more time learning

10) When you roll a canoe it comes up full of water, just flip the switch for fast water removal

11) No need for your skirted friends to wait in eddies while you bail your boat

12) Once you install an electric pump, you'll never go back to manual bailing (all of our canoes have installed electric bilge pump kits)

Other bilge option
This might be another option for an electric bilge pump for a white water canoe.