View Full Version : Self-bailing Cockpit or Not?

11-02-2002, 07:49 PM
I'm wondering if a cockpit can be self-bailing but no have through-holes for the water to drain out? Just wondering if some builders may employ the use of automatic bilge pumps to create the self-bail?

Wiley Baggins
11-02-2002, 09:18 PM

I can't think of any traditional cockpits with such features, but my sample size is not that large. The closest thing that I can think of is the "sugar scoop" open transoms seen on less traditional boats.

[ 11-02-2002, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Wiley Baggins ]

On Vacation
11-02-2002, 09:22 PM
Yes, I employ a bilge pump for decks below waterline or even waterline to allow more freeboard in runabouts.

11-03-2002, 12:59 AM
In a world where there often seems so little we can rely on its nice to know you can always count on gravity smile.gif

11-03-2002, 01:49 AM
The nice thing about conventional self-bailing cockpits is that, if you get pooped or knocked down, the load of water in the cockpit will be gone (hopefully) soon and the adverse affect on the boat's trim will be gone with it. If ridding the boat of such unwanted burden takes a while, as it would with electric pumps, it increases the chance of getting pooped again. If the electrics go south, either through extended pumping or other trauma, and the volume to be emptied is enough to affect trim, you have a big problem.
Boats are full of compromises, but I wouldn't introduce the limited capacity and unreliability of electric pumps for a cockpit of any significant volume.

At the WB show in July, there was an Araminta with a curious cockpit. The seat level of the cockpit was above LWL and there were scuppers to drain to that level. There was a SMALL footwell, whose bottom was probably below LWL which was emptied by pumps of some kind. The volume of the footwell was small enough (maybe 6 ft^3) that if it got filled and stayed filled, the trim of the boat would not be unduly affected. A nifty solution to the problem.

11-03-2002, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by JimConlin:
...if you get pooped or knocked down, the load of water in the cockpit will be gone (hopefully) soon and the adverse affect on the boat's trim will be gone with it... ...there was an Araminta with a curious cockpit. The seat level of the cockpit was above LWL and there were scuppers to drain to that level.... A nifty solution to the problem.A lot of 'self baiing' cockpits would bail (syphon) water into the boat if the weight from a flood of a poop lowered the cockpit and bailers had no check valves.

Araminta's solution sounds ideal to allow the comfort of a deep footwell.

Footwell of a Sunfish had a scupper that would drain water from venturi action of motion and had check valve to keep water out when there was no motion.

Tord Sundon (NA responsible for design of FolkBoat and KingsCruiser etc.) liked deep cockpits. His solution was that the design allows a 90+ degree knockdown with cockpit coaming remaining above waterline. The lazarette deck abaft the cockpit catches most of pooping seas.

For serious offshore safety, you would need to allow for a 180+ degree knockdown. That would require more than just a 'self bailing' cockpit.


11-03-2002, 12:49 PM
Myh limited knowledge of nautical terms and concepts lost you after "scuppers." I haven't put a lot of research into this one yet. I have bought the plans for the Ocean Pointer from Stiimson Marine but I am also looking at Bolgers Fisherman's Launch. Both would be challenging for me to say the least. One of my largest concerns is the fact that I like to leave the boat in the water over the weekend or week whenver I am down there and I don't have a boat lift. There are many rain showers in the afternoon here durin gthe summer months that can dump a large amount of water in a very short period of time (I'm sure you guys know all about this). My biggest fear now is that the battery is going to give out and my boat is going to sink. If anyone knows about the bailing characteristics of these two boats, I would appreciate any and all comments. :cool:

Art Read
11-03-2002, 01:17 PM
D... When I was a kid growing up on Cape Cod, a summer "ritual" of ours, after a lot of rain, was to trudge out to the boats on their moorings, once they'd grounded out at low tide, and bail 'em out. Open cockpits, no electric pumps. Sometimes, if Dad was back at home, working for the week, we didn't exactly "rush" right out there when we should have... I can remember getting a guilty feeling when I would finally notice the old gaff daysailer floating a little low on her waterline and lifting to the waves a bit more "slugishly" than she ought. Come the next low tide, I'd find the floorboards floating and a good 45 minutes worth of hard work with the good old, trusty "Thirsty-Mate". We caught hell, more than once, when HE found her like that!

My point is, it takes a LOT of neglect to have a boat actually sink from just rainwater filling her up. A self-bailing cockpit's real purpose, in my opinion, is in use. To prevent swamping due to capsize or extreme heeling, or from being overwhelmed due to confused or breaking seas. If you will be using her in somewhat protected waters and will be able to keep a fairly frequent eye on her while moored, an electric pump will probably work just fine. Just have a manual back-up for when the battery dies and check the bilges once in a while. Positive floatation might be something worth considering too... even with a self-bailing cockpit.

(I STILL don't know why we never fitted a cockpit cover for that boat!)

[ 11-03-2002, 01:38 PM: Message edited by: Art Read ]

11-03-2002, 01:37 PM
You beat me to it, Art. I was going to suggest that a cockpit cover (or whole boat cover for an open boat) takes much less battery power and is not near as likely to suffer mechanical failures as a bilge pump. ;)

11-03-2002, 05:51 PM
I know of two solutions for keeping a boat on a mooring or dock 'autobailed' of rainwater: one is to hook up a small solar charger to your battery/bilge pump arrangement. My brother had such a rig made for keeping his Boston Whaler bailed out and it works for him.

On the other hand, I use a wave activated pump for keeping my boat bailed out. A floating pump hung overboard has a tube that sits in the bottom of the bilge to slowly draw out the rainwater. It's a Scandinavian product that I bought years ago from a guy in Marblehead, Mass. Thad Danielson may know who sells them or where to get them. I don't remember the manufacturer's name.

11-05-2002, 09:56 AM
Cockpit cover is the easiest solution. But many people do rely on a self draining cockpit to clear the rainwater. My boat is sitting on her mooring right now with the cockpit drain seacocks closed and a cover over it. And no electric bilge pump. Five strokes when I board her at the weekend = All Right; if I had to pump more I would think "Not All Right!" and do something.