Basement (Cellar) Sump Pumps

Many offshore boats are fitted with some kind of high capacity emergency bilge pump, sometimes known as crash pumps. We have long considered one for Morgan’s Cloud but have shied away because we don’t like cluttering up the main engine with belted devices and we have yet to find a pump that is compact enough to fit, will run dry—in a flooding situation we would not have time to monitor the pump and shut it down the minute it sucks dry—and handle the kind of trash that will almost inevitably be floating around in a badly flooding boat.

I think we have found the answer on Polaris: She is equipped with two 220 volt (also available in 110 volt) high capacity household sump pumps that will move a huge amount of water and munch up just about anything thrown at them. These pumps are readily available, relatively cheap, can be placed wherever needed (even to help another boat) and be powered by our generator or inverter. Of course we would have to be very careful with such voltages around water. Also, if the generator and inverter get flooded, we would be back to our massive Edson manual pump, but then the same is true of engine driven pumps.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

3 comments… add one
  • Bill May 6, 2013, 5:23 pm

    Consider using one of the pumps used for pools instead – same sort of volume, run dry protection etc, but the form factor is often easier to manage – they are just a small pump unit with intake protection instead of a pump on a stick with a float etc.

  • Steve Jul 9, 2014, 8:24 pm

    We’re thinking of Honda’s smallest gas pump for our boat: At $460 US MSRP seems like a bargain, small, light, can help another boat and at 37 gpm bit more capacity than the big Edson manual crash pump (costs ~$1,000, but a solid piece of kit that will last forever).

    • John Jul 10, 2014, 8:28 am

      Hi Steve,

      Sounds like an interesting piece of kit. However, I don’t think I would recommend it. Gas engines are notoriously unreliable when stored for long periods in damp conditions without regular use. If it we me, I would put the money and effort into gear to stop a leak quickly and a sump pump.

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