Thanks for such a great reply, Med Sailer. There is much wisdom in your post.
I ended up hauling the boat, and doing a proper fiberglass repair. I had jumped into the water with snorkel, mask and underwater epoxy, and immediately realized that I wouldn't feel comfortable 2 miles off shore with my patch.
I will take your suggestion that I install automatic bilge pumps (or at least one) immediately. It's one of those things that have been on my to-do list -- I'll move it up a lot because you make much sense. And I will use the brand you suggest.
Now I've just got to finish my engine replacement and go sailing. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Ha.