This past weekend while fishing a tournament, a Conch Center Console boat began taking on water after some engine bolts apparently came loose or pulled out. The boat was steadily taking on water and eventually the bilge pumps could not keep up. Luckily the crew was rescued but the boat was lost unfortunately. The details are irrelevant but I want to talk about a few things that can help potentially resolve these situations when they escalate quickly which they always do.
After seeing several boats sink off of south Florida we wanted to develop a simple quick solution for a pump in emergency situations. Most boats have an electric reel outlet that already has a built in circuit breaker. So our first idea was to use that outlet to power our emergency pump. Plus, it's in a high location on the boat so you don't have to go below deck to hook anything up in an emergency situation. Next we wanted to make sure it was compact so it's easy to access and store in a convenient location. We found some roll up hose to use so the whole package with a Rule 3700 bilge fits in a large Plano box. With a Rule 2000 bilge pump it fits in a small Plano box.
The worst thing that can happen when a boat starts taking on water is that the batteries and/or engine controls or electrical components go underwater. If you can evacuate water quickly with a crash pump you have a chance of keeping the situation under control. The engines keep running, the batteries keep charging, and the pumps keep running.
Make sure you have a ditch bag with all the necessary equipment that it's easy to grab and go - Epirb, PLB, VHF, Flares, light sticks etc. along with some extras. Personally I like my stuff in a high vis waterproof backpack. It's more compact so you're more likely to take it with you and it's easy to put on your back and go. If the boat goes down you have all the essentials for a quick rescue.
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