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Old 29 August 2012, 21:33   #1
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Beware the Bilge !

As close as I have been to losing the RIB today and I wasn't even in it.
Got a phone call from St Anthony's (Cornwall) yesterday morning...the Rib was on one of their moorings for the week. One of their lads had noticed the boat sitting low in the water. In fact ... inside the Rib, the water was half way up the tubes, no freeboard, the transom was underwater.
Maybe it would have stayed afloat, but then again maybe not, and not willing to find out the limits of floatation, he had started bailing. By the time I got there, there was about 2 inches of freeboard on the transom.
There had been some really heavy rain early in the morning, obviously the automatic bilge pump hadn't worked, and on the Gemini Ribs, the deck is a set of plates over the hull with a Transom well, so heavy rain and an inoperative bilge pump = not good.
I noticed that after bailing for a while, the amount of water in the hull didnt seem to be reducing as much as it should have been, and began wondering if the hull was split. Made the decision to take the Rib out on the next high tide.

Got the boat out on the trailer a few hours later, took out the bung and dropped the drain trunks. Water flowed out strongly for a good 20 minutes.
Opened the inspection hatches on the transom well and had a good feel around ! First thing I pulled out was a partially smashed bilge pump, the snapped retaining clips, and a bunch of assorted white plastic.
Probably in my errrr.... enthusiastic driving style, the bilge pump had become unclipped and then flailed around until it smashed itself to pieces...literally.
This wouldn't account for the refilling hull...everything externally looked fine, but the Gemini has a floating ball type scupper next to the bung, and when I checked this out, I found a 2 inch by 3 inch piece of label from a 2 stroke oil bottle which had forced the ball valve open.
Combination of circumstances - that could have been much worse.

When was the last time you checked your bilge pump and cleaned out the filter, and the bilge?
Anyone got a better solution to replace the floating ball valve? Dont feel that confident in the thing now.
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Old 29 August 2012, 23:31   #2
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Well good to know. Mine is new for thé moment. Another solution could be à good boat cover !
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Old 30 August 2012, 02:51   #3
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A smashed bilge pump has caught me out before aswell on a northcraft I had .. I couldnt eliminate the water getting into the underdeck .. I think I bonded the lower half of the case to the hull IIRC
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Old 30 August 2012, 02:52   #4
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Scuppers are known for sinking boats. How high they are off the water line can be very important. Fortunately a RIB is pretty much unsinkable. Many folks plug their scuppers, when left in the water.
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Old 30 August 2012, 04:47   #5
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I have a floating ball type drain valve, wouldent trust it as far as I can throw it. Never leave mine in the water for extended periods so not an issue.
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Old 30 August 2012, 13:01   #6
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So did the motor(s) go under water at all? The damage is caused by water intrusion into everything, and worse if it is salt water. Greasing every moving component you can might help save it. The steering cable is probably going to be toast if it went underwater. Much of the wiring that isn't 100% sealed will need to be replaced.

Someone on my boat turned my bilge pump off thinking the little red light should not be on. DOH! It cost me a steering cable, and worse was I towed it two hours to the lake before finding out the cable was frozen. It is possible to free them up again though, if you add a zerk fitting in. Stiff steering sucks, frozen steering ruins the day.
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Old 30 August 2012, 16:41   #7
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If set up right, the rib will swamp with the motor, and batteries and steering gear above the water line in a console. No damage there. All other gear including electrics will be above too. Any steering gear by the engine, and filters ought to be sealed too.

Re scuppers, sack them off and get elephant tubes.

If its a scupper to the inner hull, either put a bung in and drain occasionally as bungs aren't perfect, or leave it open too if it drains to the transom well (provided that when full you still have a freeboard!) and sort your transom well pump out.

Former is ideal as you retain a higher free board.
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Old 30 August 2012, 17:28   #8
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My Tohatsu has a floating ball drain which makes a child's snorkel with captured ping pong ball look high quality. After two occasions where I arrived to find it awash (although not up to engine) a cork from the bar solved the problem permanently........I would recommend a 'Johnson' Auto bilge pump using an electronic sensor, very reliable and it's possible to buy a replacement motor which slots straight in.
Unfortunately there's no substitute to checking periodically with moored boats
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Old 30 August 2012, 18:06   #9
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yep... fortunately caught it before the motor submerged.
Battery and electrics on shelf in console ... so above water.
I hadnt cleaned out the bilge since getting the boat , so a tidy bilge would have helped, but clearly time to replace the ping pong bailer methinks. Just a screw in drain valve and frequent checks on the Bilge pump (its a Rule Auto 500).
Interesting to hear everyone else's bilge experiences !
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