Small boats limit what can be carried aboard and gear that has multiple purposes saves valuable space. We always carry a paddle and a means to bail, so when we came across the Paddle Pump, we were eager to give it a try.

Kent Lewis

With the shaft fully extended and locked with the collet, the Paddle Pump is 60″ long.

The Paddle Pump was created by two Maine seaplane pilots, who often had a need to pump out a pontoon or move a plane a short distance to or from a dock. The beavertail blade offers good power and the locking collet facilitates a range of shaft length adjustments from 36″ to 60″. The compact storage length of 36″ makes it easy to store in the small cockpit of our Sunfish and is a good length for paddling our Grumman 17 Double-Ender canoe. The blade measures 7″ wide at the widest point and is just over 17″ long. Overall, the paddle has a nice balanced feel.

The Paddle Pump ejects water on the downstroke. Here at the end of that stroke, the paddle is at its shortest length, 36″, which will fit in even this Sunfish’s small footwell.

The Paddle Pump weighs just 1.4 pounds, and while that is more than our custom-made spruce paddle, the durable materials used can take a beating whether inside a bilge or while fending off docks and obstacles. The pump valve is designed to tolerate sand and grime from bilges. The shaft is made of anodized aluminum and the blade and handle are made from an ABS mixture of recycled plastics. Plans are in the works to source future blade materials from captured ocean waste.

The Paddle Pump can move 5 gallons of water per minute at 10 strokes per gallon. The valve action is smooth and, unlike the more common small-boat pumps, the Paddle Pump discharges water on the downstroke and through one side of its T handle. The stroke length and rate can be varied to suit the user. Skipper prefers shorter strokes with a faster turnover rate while I like a full draw of water for each pump. The shorter stroke can also allow the pump to be used in constricted spaces. A hose extension is available to help move water overboard in larger boats. That said, we found that the pump can shoot water, without the hose, well over 20′—handy for summertime water fights. The T handle provides a secure/firm grip, and we found that the optional float sleeve accessory gave us a more positive grip on the metal paddle shaft. The paddle will float for a couple of minutes without the sleeve; by adding the float sleeve we ensured that the paddle will stay afloat ready to help keep us afloat.

Audrey and Kent Lewis have pumped bilge water from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific and now in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. Their small boat adventures are logged at Small Boat Restoration.

The Paddle Pump is manufactured and sold by Paddle Pumps of Maine for $89.

Is there a product that might be useful for boatbuilding, cruising, or shore-side camping that you’d like us to review? Please email your suggestions.