Solar Powered Automatic Bilge Pump

This is what the bilge looked like when we first set eyes on the boat.  Yup, it was sure a mess.


So what to do?  Well first we had to get rid of that nasty oily water.  The 12V system on the boat has been inactive for about 10 years so the rule bilge pump you can see in the top right hand corner wasn’t going to do us much good.  Luckily I found an old whale gusher manual bilge pump mounted in the cockpit! Progress!  After some digging around and a little bit of duct tape I was able to route some hose from the pump down into the bilge.  Some more digging around and we found the pump handle!  After that we took turns pumping for over 2 hours straight.  That’s a lot of water!  And I’ll tell you one thing, not one of us ever wanted to do it again!

So here’s where it gets fun.  At this point I had a good idea of where the water was coming from but this was my first time on the boat so I was not 100% sure.  I wanted a fool proof system to get the water out if it did find an alternate route in.

On our Cataina 25 we have a small solar panel that sits in the cockpit while we are away.  It keeps the battery topped off and ready to use without fail.  I also had an old 500gph rule pump still in its packaging sitting in the closet at the house.  After the wheels turned for a while I came up with the plan:  lets get the small rule pump installed way down deep in the bilge, hook it up to an automatic float switch, give it some power with a small 12V battery, and keep the battery charged with the small cockpit solar panel!

AllPowers Solar Panel with alegator clips: $22

50 ft Tinned Copper Wire, fuses, and heat shrink connectors: $53

Float switch: $12

500gph Rule Pump: Free – but it would have been $20

For those DIY broke sailors out there (like us!) a garden hose fits on the output of a 500gph rule pump 😉

2015-06-29 10.21.31  2015-07-02 18.04.522015-07-02 18.04.40 2015-07-02 18.04.33

Still a bit of a mess – but no water!

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