Get The Water Out! Best Handheld Pumps

We had a great Beckson Thirsty 24 inch hand pump with a 24 inch hose which we used for all sorts of boat chores.   Sadly, ours has been used to death and now has a hole in the hose — which has been duct taped several times with deteriorating results.   Lately it’s pumping less and becoming sadder and sadder.

Shoes Afloat, When It Appears We Could Lose the Crocs, We Know It’s Time To Bail the DInghy! 🙂

The last straw was last winter when David was out in the torrential (and I do mean TORRENTIAL) rains associated with a couple of the cold fronts that visited us in the Exumas.  David is not a big fan of standing out in rain that HURTS, especially to bail the dinghy so it doesn’t sink. (and his crew seldom volunteers…) But when the pump decided to pump about half as much as usual, he got frustrated and resorted to our cutaway bailing bucket (a gallon bleach jug with a cutout) – which works fine, but it isn’t nearly as fast as the Beckson pump was originally.

The dinghy pump dead, David endures the driving rain in Big Major Cay in the Exumas to bail the dinghy the slow way with the cutaway gallon jug.

Anytime something aboard wears out, it’s time to re-evaluate.  Is there something better to replace it with?  This time we’ve decided we’re happy with our original selections, so I need to order another.

Here are the two manual pumps we have aboard, not counting David’s Little Pal utility pump he uses for engine oil changes, but I’ve also included it in the photo below just because he likes it so much (and it’s not just for oil changes, that’s just what we choose to use it for…).

Beckson Thirsty Hand Pump – because it’s “special polyvinyl” construction, it won’t mar the boat.  The slim construction design makes it handy to reach all sorts of unlikely places – under our diesel when our salt water pump decided to spray ocean in every direction; our deep and skinny bilge, the shower sump pump area when the sump needed replaced in addition to making fast work of pumping out the dinghy.


Seattle Sports Paddlers Bilge Pump  We originally got these little pumps for our kayaks, but since have found all sorts of small projects that they’re good for.  The company says:  “designed for ease of use, the pump features a comfortable, easy-grip rubber overmolded handle and a high-visibility neon yellow stock for extra safety. Although not required or included, a 1-inch internal diameter hose can be added.” — we didn’t add any hose since we already have the Thirsty Hand Pump for bigger jobs.

Jabsco Little Pal Pump.  As long as we’re discussing pumps we have aboard, I might as well include David’s Little Pal Utility pump that he uses for oil changes and messy stuff.  It’s a great pump and as a utility pump, if you didn’t choose to use it for oil right away, it might do well for other projects!

And, of course, your manual bilge pump built into your boat works perfectly, right?   The one with the handle that fits in a fitting somewhere – ours is in the cockpit – and manually pumps the boat if the automatic bilge pump quits working?   Of course, the handle is never quite convenient to the place it hooks into — we keep ours in a lazarette across from the fitting — if we kept it near the fitting it would be either in the propane locker or the lazarette with the batteries and engine access, which is a huge black hole!  Seriously, don’t forget to check it before you leave the dock for more than a daysail.  It’s there for a reason and it’s important that it works!    🙂

Anyone else with different types of pumps that they like?   Let us know, we need to invest in a new hand pump since our Beckson is dying…   THX!   Jan




  1. The Beckson hand pump works great. I remember them from the first days I started sailing back in the 80’s. I took one of the smallest ones and actually mounted it to the transom of the dinghy, so the bottom of it is sitting an inch from the drain plug, and the top of it points outwards and upwards at an angle, with the spout pointing overboard. I can now sit there and pump the water out with one hand if needed, I never loose the thing, it’s held down with one plastic two hole strap that was designed to hold electrical PVC pipe and it’ll be easy to replace, I hope the sun doesn’t trash it prematurely. And to answer the obvious question, nope, it doesn’t get in the way of the motor turning or anything, it really worked well, so far. We all know how that goes. And I agree about the built in manual pump, I went thru the hassle of crawling into the lazarette locker to dismantle and repair mine. I’m glad I did, I have the handle in the cockpit next to the pump, and it works. Gotta stay afloat, right?

  2. We do have a bronze Davey manual bilge pump permanently installed on our 14 ft. dinghy, and it works a treat, the handle just gets sometimes a bit hot in the sun. But if everything fails there are also two “modified” plastic milk jugs at hand. Best bilge pump: a seaman in distress and a bucket – you gotta stay afloat at all costs, don’t you 🙂 ?

    Cheers, Florian (SV Seascout)

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