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Using the engine as an emergency bilge pump



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What is the issue?
Holed boats take on water very quickly. A 10 cm will leak 1100 litres per minute. Enough to sink a 30ft yacht in 12 minutes. Such an inrush will overwhelm even the best of bilge pumps.

Why address this?
Any hole has to be found and fast. Anything that can be done to keep the flooding at bay whilst the hole is being found and staunched, could save the vessel.

How to address this?
A last line of defence to keep an inrush of water at bay is to use the engine raw water intake pump by shutting off the engine's seawater intake valve and disconnecting the hose.

Groco SSC Engine Flush Kit
Image: Courtesy of Groco
Then drop the end of the hose into the bilge to use the engine's impeller as an emergency pump. As the water level drops, ease the throttle so the engine doesn't overheat and reconnect.

This solution can be formalised by adding a 'Safety Seacock Converter' made by Groco. This adapter can be added to any existing seacock to provide an instant emergency bilge pump. With this fitted, all that is required is to close the seacock whilst the engine is running and removing the quick release plug. Any water above the release plug will be drawn in and pumped overboard by the engine raw water pump. Groco also offers a bilge strainer adapter for bilge locations remote to the seacock.

The fitting also comes with a service adaptor that facilitates winterisation. To use this simply close the seacock, remove the quick release plug and insert the service adaptor with a feed-in of anti-freeze to be pumped into the cooling system or fresh water if it is used to heat the engine oil at idle speed for a service, whilst the vessel is standing on the hard.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur




Yacht taking on water


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