Before you get underway on your next boating excursion, there’s one important aspect of your vessel you should pay attention to: the bilge. While the word is awful and may cause you to want to overlook this part of your boat, the bilge is worthy of your notice. That is because the bilge—the lowest part of a boat between the floorboards and the engine—is designed to collect excess water. Therefore, it’s critical that you check it and empty it before and after each use. We will teach you how to quickly remove water from the bilge of your boat.

How Does Water Enter the Bilge?

Before we dive into tips for removing bilge water, let’s investigate how water enters the bilge in the first place. This water collects from any number of areas, from damaged hoses to mast drip to porthole leaks. Wave spray, melting ice, and rain can also cause bilge water to collect. If the water is not removed quickly and regularly, a variety of problems—some of them being quite serious—can result.

Problems Stemming From Bilge Water

Left unaddressed, bilge water is a serious safety issue. Some of the problems resulting from disregarded and excessive amounts of water in the bilge include:

  • Mold, mildew, and bacteria growth in the bilge
  • Rust in the bilge
  • Mildewed carpets and upholstery
  • Excess humidity in the cabin
  • Inability to track oil, fuel, or water leaks
  • Inefficient fuel usage
  • Sinking

How To Remove Bilge Water Quickly

To quickly remove water from the bilge of your boat, purchase a bilge pump—if you don’t have one already—and run it. These pumps are available in electric, mechanical, and hand-operated styles. If you do have a bilge pump, ensure it’s in good working order. If you can’t afford a pump, use an old-fashioned water scoop and bucket. You may also want to use a hose to wash out any mold, mildew, or oil. Believe it or not, agricultural spray nozzles work fabulously for this task.

Once the bilge is pumped or scooped out and sprayed clean, wipe its interior down with rags or towels. Then, be sure to check and muck out the bilge each time you leave and return to port.