Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bilge pump or bucket?

Getting back to a bit of a nautical theme I submitted a 'Myth' to the famous Mythbusters yesterday. So, for the record, here it is. I hope they test this one out.

On a sinking boat is a bucket better than a bilge pump?

There's an old sailor's axiom that states: 'On a sinking boat there's no better bilge pump than a frightened sailor with a bucket.'

I think it would be a fair test with a hand powered bilge pump (Whale type/bicycle type) and a 2 quart (2 litre) milk jug cut into a bucket (common). Some of the major variables would be:

1. The size of the boat
2. The size of the hole in the boat
3. The depth below waterline of the hole in the boat
4. The physical capability (fitness) of the sailors

Reference:  Boat flooding rate in gpm


Secondary question would be 'how long can you keep your boat afloat? For instance if you were flooding at the maximum capacity of your particular bilge pump. Would you have enough time to get to shore if you were say 1 NM from shore?

Reference: Different types of bilge pumps that could be used.

A Whale manual bilge pump. Capacity: 89 L/m (19.5 g/m) @ 60 strokes per minute

A typical 'bicycle type' bilge pump. 0.5l per stroke and 673mm in length, approx. 30 - 40 lt per minute.

A milk jug bailer. Unknown capacity.

I retired in November of 2012 after almost 33 years in the Canadian Coast Guard. My time is now spent building a 31' diesel trawler and that's the reason I thought this would make a great myth to test (or bust). Wouldn't it be great if you could enlist the help of some US vs Canadian Coast Guard Cadets making it into a bit of a competition?  :-)

Thanks for producing the best shows on TV. I've been a fan since episode #1 and will be until the bitter end! I would give my eye teeth to be there to see this myth tested! (hint hint)

Yours Aye!