After pulling their open fishing boat out of the water in the middle of a dark and rainy night, two friends thought there might be a better way to keep it from sinking.
That is how Dwight, near Huntsville, resident Richard Hatkoski and his friend Don Waddington came up with the idea for the Sun Pump — a solar-powered bilge pump that helps to keep unattended boats from filling with rainwater.
“Don built the first Sun Pump using a bilge pump, hose, solar panel, and two plastic fruit baskets tied together to create a housing. It looked silly, but it worked great,” Hatkoski wrote on the Sun Pump website. “I showed up a few days later with a much better prototype, and after several more revisions and testing, we started production.”
They've been keeping customers' boats afloat since 2009.
“We have fabricated and sold 1,420 units over the years. We are providing employment and manufacturing opportunities for our local companies,” Hatkoski wrote in an email.
He added that many cottagers using aluminum boats for recreation or as their only form of transportation are essential customers. Marinas, resorts, and camps also rely on the product to pump out their boats.
Since 2009, all early versions of the Sun Pump have been handmade in their Baysville-based shop. However, the latest version of the Sun Pump will be moulded and assembled at Axiom Audio Labs in Dwight. It costs $369.
“Based on current customer feedback, we have integrated the float switch as part of the bilge while still utilizing the same trusted 2.5-watt solar panel and seven-hour battery,” Hatkoski wrote. “Also, a simple push button activates the manual bilge pump mode, and a 12-volt emergency power socket is also available.”
He added that the new version is easy to transport with one hand as it weighs just 11 pounds, and no assembly is required.
For more information on the Sun Pump or to purchase, visit its official website.
Julian Orlando Chaves is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with the Huntsville Forester. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.