Requirements of a Manual Water Pump: What You Need to Know

April 5, 2024

A manual water pump is an important piece of boating safety equipment. In fact, Canada’s Small Vessel Regulations stipulate that it is legally required that you carry a specific size of manual water pump on most types of boats. 

What is a manual water pump?

A manual water pump, also known as a manual bilge pump, is a hand-operated pump with a hose that is used to remove water from a boat.

What types of boats require a manual water pump?

Sailboats and powerboats between 9 (29.5 feet) and 12 metres (39.4 feet) in length must carry a manual water pump on board. Sailboards and paddle boats are exempt from this law, as these vessels cannot accumulate enough water to cause them to capsize.

Larger vessels (over 12 metres in length) must rely on bilge pumps instead. Manual pumps may not be adequate to keep a larger craft afloat if it takes on water, however they should still be kept on board in case of bilge pump failure.

Smaller vessels (less than 9 metres in length) can carry a bailer instead of a pump. PWCs can carry either a bailer or a pump.

What is the right size of water pump for my boat?

A water pump must be equipped with a hose long enough to reach from the bilge space to the outside of the boat. The main concern is that the hose is long enough to get the water completely out of the boat.

Using a bailer instead of a pump

You can use a bailer as well as or instead of a pump. Bailers must:

  • Hold at least 750 ml (0.2 gallons or 1½ pints)
  • Have an opening of at least 65cm² (10in²)
  • Be made of metal or plastic

You can make your own bailer out of a firm plastic bottle or ice cream container.

Remember that a bucket can sometimes do the same job. It’s a handy piece of equipment that can be used to wash the deck, scoop up bilge, and all sorts of other tasks!

Get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card from the National Boating Safety School

Canadian boaters need to have the right safety equipment on board to go boating legally on Canadian waterways. This includes everything from appropriate life jackets to Personal Locator Beacons and radar reflectors.

Sign up today to get your Proof of Competency. When you get your official Canadian boating license from the National Boating Safety School, you’ll learn all about boating safety equipment!

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