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Are Two Pumps Better Than One? You Bet.

When the freshwater pump goes, your crew's sanity follows. Here's how to avoid an unpleasant dry spell.

To Heck With Mutiny

One of the most useful and most used devices on your boat is her freshwater pump. Indeed, if you factor in time spent dockside, the darn thing piles up just about as many operational hours as your engine or engines. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

At any rate, if you’ve ever had a freshwater pump give up the ghost for some reason during a reasonably long cruise, you know one thing for sure—life on board changes radically once the source of cool, clean freshwater dries up. Cooking peters out quickly, along with showers, dishwashing, hand washing and just about every other normal human activity that engenders happiness. Heck, even the act of downing a glass of water can turn into a fond memory.

Of course, crewmembers usually turn testy as a result, argumentative. Mutinous remarks are made, sometimes by family members. Unpleasant aspects of the captain’s biography may find their way into the public venue, thanks to a burgeoning malice. In point of fact, things can get so out of hand in the end that matrimonial vows are ultimately called into question!

So here’s what we suggest. Unless your boat is equipped with two freshwater pumps—one being a spare, a rather uncommon scenario these days unfortunately—how about purchasing a second pump (identical to the first, if possible) and tossing it into a locker or some other handy spot, along with the quick-connect fittings that normally accompany modern, off-the-shelf freshwater pumps.


After all, you can buy a good, run-dry-capable unit today for between $100 and $150. And with the quick connects and port adapters that are normally included, you should be able to swap a malfunctioning pump out for a new one in a matter of minutes. Typically, all you need do is shut off the water tank(s) temporarily, pop two old hose-type fittings off, remove a couple of electrical wires, pop two new fittings into place, and then finally re-attach a few screws and electrical wires.

Is buying an extra pump for a few bucks (and simply leaving it boxed up after you’ve determined that all the necessary components are inside the box) lots better than ruining a vacation which is probably going to cost you thousands of dollars? 

Considering the cost-to-benefit ratio involved here, absolutely!

For more tips like this, visit the Vetus-Maxwell DIY Workshop at

Capt. Bill Pike is deputy editor of our sister publication Power & Motoryacht magazine.