Surveying Bilge Pumps in Small Craft


Bilge pumps are critical pieces of equipment on a small craft. There are many types that perform in different ways that a surveyor needs to understand when inspecting them. ‘Surveying bilge pumps in small craft – what surveyors and MCA coding examiners need to know’ was presented by Geoff Waddington, Fraser Noble and supported by Jabsco.

The presentation covered:
• Types of Pump (electric) – positive displacement, remote and submersible.
• Types of Pump (manual) – diaphragm, stirrup etc.
• Operation – float, water sensors, remote switched, etc.
• Bilge sumps – sailing boats – level bilge issues.
• Strum boxes.
• Pipe-work – bulkhead penetrations.
• Non return valves – back flooding.
• Electrical supplies – wiring, junction boxes, etc.
• Environmental issues – water separators, oily water tanks, disposal, etc.

Matt from Jabsco presented on 3 types of submersible Jabsco bilge pumps, specifically around the types of water sensing offered.
· Standard pumps operated by external float or electronic level switch
· Timer pumps that switch on every 2.5 mins to check for water
· Auto pumps that use a level sensor
· Low profile pumps for shallow bilge areas

The presentation concluded with advice specifically for MCA coding examiners:
• What is a bilge compartment
• Which compartments require pumping
• Which compartments may, possibly, be accepted without pumps
• Main pump and emergency pump for each compartment – emergency may be common to all or not
• Types of system- manifold – individual pumps for each compartment and so on
• Pipe and hose materials – non-combustible in ERs or other fire risk spaces
• Bilge alarms – when required; where required to be located;where required to be heard and seen
• Locations of pumps as per the MCA codes
• Pump capacities for under 6 metres, 6 to 12 metres and over 12 metres
• Larger capacity requirements for cargo carrying or lifting operations
• Pumping with deck hatches shut and possible exceptions to this
• Testing bilge pumps at survey
• Testing bilge alarms at survey
• Checking pump capacities


Run time – 3 hours 27 mins approx.

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