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Water Ballast Pump Systems


Steve W

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I decided to start a new thread as this effects many boats. Please post your experience and ideas here so we can keep the info in one spot as things develop. Graham wrote this awhile ago about Carlita:

 

I believe that I mentioned that I bailed the tank full. I showed a picture earlier in the Carlita build of the 3/4" PVC tube that I set horizontally through the fore and aft tank baffle and into the trunk to let in the water. It filled the ballast tank to within about 3" - 4" of the top before I needed to bail. To empty the ballast tank, I opened the bailer and the tank fill until the water dropped to where it stopped filling and then the transom drain plug was reinstalled. In spite of John's comment that he needs 6 knots to make his Anderson bailer work. I emptied the tank while doing 3-4 knots. The fill tube was installed in the trunk to save parasitic drag rather than going into the bottom. It is reached, just to the left of the hatch. I am happy with the installation.

 

I was pleased with the height of the cockpit and drains. In the worst conditions, I did not have water running back into the cockpit from the drains. I enlarged the 3/4" PVC pipe to take standard transom drain plugs, I can plug the drains if she back floods with a bunch of people sitting in the cockpit. I have not seen the need so far. I have since had a four people plus Mandy in the cockpit with the tank full without issue. 

 

I also have a diaphragm pump but ran out of time to install it. I will see if I ever get around to it. 

 

As I mentioned earlier, I like to fill the tank all of the way. This is to prevent the water from going to leeward as the boat heels lessening it's effect.

 

I added the horizontal pipe Graham speaks of. Jay put in an electric pump that he can flip a switch and make it happen both filling and draining. He sent me pictures but I'm having trouble posting right now. This is sweet but I'm going for simplicity. I'm kind of a Luddite (this boat will have no 12V electrical system), I'm still thinking a whale type pump to remove the ballast tank water would be a good idea. I have a water ballasted boat now and having 400+ pounds of water in it when the wind only allows ghosting along kind of stinks. I've used a hand bilge pump, but I always get water all over the place. I think the Anderson bailer is a good idea and I will have one. If I was willing to start the motor (I'm generally not) I could get enough motion to drain it in light wind. So I'm thinking a system like Jay put in, but a good gusher pump can do 15-20 GPM so two minutes of pumping after I gravity brings it down a bit should work. I do need to make this decision soon as I'm ready to install the cockpit floor. 

 

So post your experiences (Where's Doug?) and thoughts! Thank You.

 

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There are a few different ways to approuch the problem, but drain hole size and tank height are the limiting factors. I cool way I say a weekender buoy warrior handle this was compressed air. A simple Schrader valve was installed in the tank top, plumbed to a small tank and a ball valve. To lose the water, the tank was pressurized and it about halved the drain time needed. Very little air was required, so the small tank didn't weigh much or take up any room.

 

In this same vein, I'd think you could use a manual pump to pressurize the air, rather than physically move water. Why bust your butt, when some pressure can do the work for you. Lastly, the big manual pumps aren't cheap and you do get tired pretty quickly move large amounts of water through them. I've noticed that even though the pump is rated at say 15 GPM, most are hard pressed to sustain 10 GPM, once the first several strokes are entered. 

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Hi Steve, I have a Whale Gusher on another boat, it is a dead pull to pump it. Don't know the capacity but it is a muscle builder anyway. The little electric pump is working OK, takes about 7-8 minutes to fill or empty. This winter I am installing a 3 way valve and it will serve as a wash down pump too. If you go this way, be darn sure you mount it on a rubber mount of some sort, it will make a howl that will be heard for miles ( well maybe not miles) but it is really loud.

Hope to see you and your boat this fall at the Messabout.

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I am imagining a moment while sailing.  It's hot, and the wind has fallen off to about 5-10 kts.  Being a lover of sailing, I still want to sail.  But my water ballast tanks are full, and I want to empty them for efficiency.  My choices are:

  1. Turn on the pump, per Jay Knight's set-up.
  2. Get a good workout on this already hot day, pumping it out by hand.
  3. Fire up the "iron jenny" for 5 minutes to gain enough boat speed for the bailers to work.

As far as I'm concerned, #2 is not an option, unless I follow it with a man overboard drill.  This leaves #1 or #3.  Since I (hypothetically) already have a motor hanging on my transom, #3 is economical and sensible.  Little four-stroke engines are quiet, and don't puff out blue smoke, so what's the big deal?  And not having an electric pump is one less system to go wrong, especially if you're a Ludite (or whatever that cult is called).  I say "hypothetically", because I am the ballast on my BRS15.  But it is fun talking about it.

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