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Bilge pumps Securing the damage

Watertight bulkheads

Most multihulls will flood but not sink when the hull(s) are penetrated. The exception is aluminium multihulls.

Surging internal water creates high stress loads on all hull types. Seal the hole as soon as possible and pump the water clear. Sail to minimise loads and reduce hull stresses. A flooded hull will force the multihull to 'drag' off centre. Sailing may be impossible. Remember the availability of your sea anchor to help the hulls settle into a suitable angle to effect repairs.

Carry the equipment to effect repairs. This might include a portable or hand held drill, self tapping screws, sheets of plywood, silicone sealer and rapid drying underwater epoxy.

Watertight bulkheads

Multihulls by definition have multiple compartments, some interconnected, some independent. The bilges are often so shallow that pumps cannot be permanently fitted.

Multihull Seamanship Rule: A high capacity portable bilge pump is a must for a multihull.

Each bilge pump should have two long, permanently attached hoses. Lanyards need to be ready for securing the pump on deck.

Each bow and both sterns should have watertight bulkheads. This is not to say that the areas cannot be used for other purposes -as long as the access ports are watertight and strong enough to withstand flooded water pressure. Many watertight compartments have inspection ports. Design a hose fitting (inserted through an inspection port) that will enable each compartment to be pumped out without a crew member having to hold the hose. Hoses should be long enough to enable pumping of all major compartments from the safety of the cockpit or similar location.



Every time a person steps aboard your mul-tihull for a sail it is good seamanship to go through a safety check. The more challenging the sail the more comprehensive the information although there are a few basics that should be covered every time. Make sure any monohull sailors listen as the safety characteristics of multihulls differ.

The routine information should include:

• lifejacket storage and use

• lifebuoy and danbuoy release

• man overboard drill

• radio operation

It is a good idea to have someone in the crew to act as backup in case the skipper is the one that goes overboard or is sick.

Warn everyone about the ability for multi-hulls to accelerate quickly and respond rapidly to helm changes.

Multihull Seamanship Rule: Keep one hand for the boat. Hold on.


Explain that the sheet ropes are highly loaded and that nobody should stand over, sit on or hold them. Similarly the winches are a danger point because the ropes are in quick release catches and can occasionally be knocked free.

The mast base on rotating rigs is not the place to admire the view. The rotating spanner can shear ankles off. Everybody should be aware of this and if they do need to be in the area then show how the rotation spanner is secured.

If embarking on an ocean voyage then the crew needs a full run down on the other safety features. Those specific to multihulls are included throughout this book. Keep a copy on board and have it read.

A good seamanship idea is to have a checklist of the information to be explained stored near the starter key or helm.

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