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Bailer, Manual Water Pump & Bilge Pump Requirements

May 31, 2022

While boats are ingeniously engineered to stay afloat, they can capsize or sink if enough water gets in. Adverse weather conditions in particular can cause water to accumulate inside a boat and threaten its seaworthiness. That’s why it’s important to always have a bailer, manual water pump or bilge pump on hand to bail you out!

Find out more about these essential water removal devices and which one is required on your boat.


What is a bailer?

A bailer is a container that is used to manually remove water from a boat. It is the simplest type of water removal device. A homemade bailer can be created by cutting the bottom off of a bottle of bleach or a similar plastic jug.

Bailer requirements

According to the Small Vessel Regulations, bailers must be made of plastic or metal, with a minimum capacity of 750 ml and an opening of at least 65 cm2. Pleasure crafts are required to carry a bailer or other water removal device on board unless their design is such that they cannot retain enough water to make them capsize.

Manual water pumps

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 attachment that is used to remove water from a boat. Water removal devices such as manual bilge pumps are considered essential safety equipment to have on board a boat.

Manual water pump requirements

Sail and power boats between 9 and 12 m in length are required to have a manual water pump on board. Smaller vessels and PWCs can have a manual water pump or a bailer. The pump must be equipped with a hose long enough to reach from the bilge space over the side of the boat.

Bilge pumps

What is a bilge pump?

Bilge pumps are automated pumps that are built into larger vessels to remove water from the bilge (the lowest part of the boat). Some pumps are equipped with switches that automatically turn them on when the water in the bilge reaches a certain level.

Bilge pump requirements

Sail and power boats over 12 m in length must be equipped with a bilge pump. Like their manual counterparts, bilge pumps must be fitted with a hose or pipes long enough to pump water from the bilge space over the side of the boat.

Find out more about boating safety requirements from Drive a Boat Canada!

When boating, there’s a lot to keep track of to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe. That’s why boaters are required to take a safety course and pass a boating exam online or in person in order to obtain their Pleasure Craft Operator Card and boat legally on Canadian waters. Register for Drive a Boat Canada’s course today to begin your boating adventure!