View Full Version : Scary Bilge Moments

06-10-2005, 12:46 AM
Had a scary moment at Lake Mead last summer. My packing nut was leaking a small but steady stream. We were houseboating and only had one day to go, the bilge was kicking on every 15 to 20 minutes or so. Saw a storm brewing in the distance and called it a day skiing back into our cove. Off-loaded everyone onto the houseboat and was anchoring down for the night when the storm hit. Big Monsoon type storm with huge drops and lots of them.

I decided to ride it out in the boat since swimming to the houseboat with lightning didn't sound all that appealing. The bilge light kicked on but no water came out the spout. Within 2 minutes, the engine compartment was full of water and still no stream coming out. I kept looking for debris next to the bilge but there was none. The line was clear of obstruction but there was no water in it.

For some reason the bilge just wasn't sucking water. Within 5 minutes there was standing water from bow to stern.

I finally came to the conclusion that there was an air-bubble trapped in the bilge and the impeller was cavitating, unable to generate suction. Now would probably be a good time to mention how hard it is to get a auto-bilge to turn off and reset when the hull is filling up with water.

The way I saw it I had two options. Pop the circuit breaker and hope it resets when I want it to, or detach the battery and hope that re-attaching it during a lightning storm, on a lake, during a monsoon wouldn't be just too dumb.

Decided to take one more shot at the bilge directly and started swiriling water around it as best I could in that little area.

A couple of short burps of water came out of the bilge exit before the steady stream started. Took 3 hours to finish emptying the boat.


06-14-2005, 01:09 AM
Last ditch effort. If you've got a ballast system, disconnect the bags and use it to pump the water out.

06-14-2005, 07:26 AM
I thought of that. Would you not have to seal the intake?

06-15-2005, 01:00 AM
You could but I don't think you would have to. Water shouldn't normally run in the intake if you don't have the pumps on. I believe the inlet and outlet run on different pumps. Most people can't even get the bags to start filling unless the boat is on plane.

06-15-2005, 06:21 AM
Actually, I think you would have to seal it off. The mechanics of the set up prevents water from coming in on its own. If you take away the resistance, water should flow freely. The intake is, of course, below the waterline.
Hope this helps.
North Carolina

06-15-2005, 08:26 AM
I think there is a ball valve cut off at the intake so in theory this would work.


06-15-2005, 10:13 AM
Yes, in theory, closing the valve, then separating the line between the pump and valve could work.
But on ballast systems, isn't there a pump for filling and a pump for draining the bags? Could you just hook a hose up to the drain side and run it to the bilge to pump excess water?. When I fill my bags, a pump under the motor cover runs. But when I drain, a pump in the back of the boat runs. Not sure, but I think that's right.

06-15-2005, 12:54 PM
You could just diconnect the drain hose on the front ballast and turn it on. As long as the end is under water it should pump out. I have unfortunately had to do this. With rear ballast only it would be alot more difficult.