Self bailers on rowboats : LUSENET : Open-water rowing : One Thread

I'm considering installing what used to be called "Elfstrom" bailers on my dory. I've used these on dingy sailboats and they work great, leak a little sometimes, but in general when the wind blows and you really need them, the water is sucked right out.

The question is, can I row fast enough to make them work in a dory? I see that they are sold on the Alden site for shells. Please no answers in them "If your boat is sinking you'll row plenty fast", category. :> And I know that a boat full of water won't row at all fast enough. I'm thinking about if/when I catch a wave badly and end up with an inch or two of water. Rather than sponge it out, can I row it out? I'm going to assume that the best I'll manage with all the extra weight of the water is 3knts.


-- Gary Powell (, February 09, 2004


The Aldens and Maas boats both use the flip-down type bailers. I can tell you from much personal experience that you don't have to be going very fast to suck the water out of the boat. I find in my Maas 24 that I can empty a full cockpit (perhaps 5 gallons of water) in perhaps 10 strokes in conditions where I feel like I can barely move the boat.

Two things to consider: 1) the Maas boats won't swamp, so it is more a matter of keeping your toes out of the water than safety. 2) the bailers tend to fail closed as opposed to open. You sometimes have to bend them a bit to get them to stay open. As long as you have the ability to quickly reach down to get the bailer and open or close it between strokes, you'll be pretty happy with the arrangement.


-- Doug Kidder (, February 10, 2004.

I installed a self bailer in both of my 17' wherries. They were manufactured by Andersen. Three knots is pretty marginal, to make mine work I have to row pretty hard and if I had any significant amount of water I'd be using the old 5 gal. pail. The "mini" model worked better at lower speeds than the bigger ones. Four years ago the distributor was in Florida, 305 563 5603. They are of excellent quality and serve well as a bilge plug to drain water when the boat is on the trailer. Hope this helps. Jon

-- Jon Aborn (, May 22, 2004.

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