New To Boating? Seven Types Of Boat Pumps That Will Help Keep You Comfortably Afloat

Boats and water get along quite nicely, as long as that water stays where it belongs. Various types of pumps are used to keep water out, fill various tanks, run amenities on your boat or make cleaning an easier chore. Here are seven of the most common types of pumps found on boats. You should consider becoming familiar with the ones that pertain to your water craft before you head out for some serious sailing.

Bilge Pumps

The bilge pump is the most common of these five pumps. The bilge is the part of the boat below decks where water and fuel can accumulate. Bilge pumps go back to the time of the ancient Greeks, when a scientist named Archimedes invented a device that could carry water up and out of a boat. Called the Archimedes screw, this invention is also used in various land pumps for oil and water. Almost all boats have bilges, except for rowboats, canoes and small runabouts. Basically, anything that doesn't have a deck and can be pulled out of the water by hand are exceptions.

Manual bilge pumps are available for smaller craft and do come in handy for emergencies. Larger craft tend to use electric or engine driven bilge pumps. Bilge pumps have a spark arrestor to prevent stray bits of fuel from igniting when the bilge water is pumped out.

Engine Cooling Pumps

The engine on a boat heats up when running, just like the engine on your car. You car's engine is cooled by the air flowing around the engine when it's in motion along with help from the radiator. The boat is cooled by water, which must be pumped aboard. There are two different systems.

Inboard Motors

The water is usually pumped in from the surrounding water. It comes through a space in the hull, drawn in by a raw water pump. The water circulates around the engine oil compartment and cools down the oil.

Inboard/Outboard Motors

On water craft that have both inboard and outboard motors the pump pulls the water in from the stern. The water goes through a transmission cooler before it gets to the oil compartment.

Shower Sump Pumps

Boats that have showers aboard need shower sump pumps. Whenever you take a shower in your boat, the sump pump helps pull the water into the containment, or gray tank. Since the boat floats on water, there is less of a pull from gravity to drain the water at the same rate as in a land-based RV.

Fresh Water Pumps

If you have a self-contained boat with at least a head, or marine toilet, and a sink, you need a fresh water pump. This device helps with fluid control and pumps fresh water from a holding tank to be used in the on board facilities.

Macerator Waste Pumps

Macerator pumps grind up solid wastes flushed down the head and then direct them to the black water tank. It makes it easier to pump out the material at a dock's dumping station.

Live Well Pumps

If you have a fishing boat that carries live bait, you'll need a live well pump. This pumps in raw water from the surrounding lake or sea, strains it and then directs it to the tanks, called live wells, holding the bait.

Wash Down Pumps

Handy on any boat, but especially on fishing boats, wash down pumps pull water aboard so you can hose down your deck and clear your anchor chain. Some wash down pumps are designed to double as live well pumps.

Whether you are heading out for a fishing trip or just for a bit of fun in the sun, these various pumps can help keep you safe and comfortable on your boating adventure.


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