Join Date: May 2011
Location: Richmond, VA
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Rep Power: 6
I am in the process of adding a high water alarm and perhaps replacing our existing pump.
Not sure why someone would not leave their bilge pump on (auto).
Can a bilge stop a large leak when you're not there? Probably not unless you're lucky and someone sees that there is a major problem. The bilge pump is design to keep up with continuous leaks that develop overtime. Water coming down the mast into the bilge, leaks during heavy rains, stuffing box that needs tightening, new leaks that you haven't notice in the past, etc...
This past Summer we spent the night on our sailboat at our slip after a day sail. After a few hours I heard the pump running more then normal and hearing water dripping. I knew I had a faulty float as it worked off and on, depending on how hard you hit it... (it was on my to-do-list to replace it). The pump was keeping up with the leak, running off and on as needed but then about 9pm, the float stop working and I had to run the pump manually. I left it alone for about two hours and the bilge was near full, so every two hours I woke up and hit the switch. I replaced the float the next morning.
Would our sailboat sunk? Probably not and I believe someone would notice her much lower in the water and notify someone. But it would have caused a lot of damage from the teak floors, electrical wiring, etc... If the float and bilge was running properly, I would have been able to find the problem the following weekend or better yet, if I had a high water alarm, it would have went off that night and most likely the next slip over would have connected me.
The leak ended up being our stuffing box. Someone left a dock line hanging in the water and apparently I didn't notice it and it eventually got wrapped up in our prop and loosening up the stuffing box somehow.
Sailboats are not 100% watertight. Leaks happen from time to time. Especially if you get caught up with kids and family, and leave your sailboat unattended at the slip for a couple of weeks. Those small leaks adds up.
S2 11.0A 36'