My number one rule of sailing is: “Keep the water out!”
There’s a lot of details that go into following that rule, and we may discuss them all at some point, but being away from our floating home for weeks and months make it a little more difficult because we are not there every day to see and monitor what is happening. Wings of the Morning is our home, so keeping the #1 rule in force is even more important.
When we bought the boat there was maybe a half inch of water in the bilge. Not a big deal at all. As a matter of fact, the previous owner didn’t leave the power on to the bilge pump because he didn’t want to accidentally pump any stray oil or fuel into the water, so the little bit that was there was an accumulation from quite a while.
Looking over the boat, I could see that all the hoses that lead to through hull valves were brand new, and the valves were left closed in any case. Cool again. The engine was brand new and the packing gland had been replaced at the same time, so the situation was as good as it could be. It seemed everything that could be done had been done and it was a big relief for me.
But being away for six weeks or more is a long time to just “hope” that every thing is OK.
I wanted to find something which would notify me of high water in the bilge. I first went looking for something simple like an app to send me a text msg, but of course there has to be some sort of sensor to generate the text msg, so this presented a difficulty. An internet search brought up a really nice option that monitored everything from power to high temperature, but it was very expensive, and required a $180.00 a year monitoring service. Worth it, yes, but the cost made me look further.
Once I dropped the words “marine, and bilge” from my searches I found “Pump Alarm“. The cost was $199.00 plus shipping, and an annual monitoring fee of $30.00. That’s more like it.
(Note: I am not selling these, just passing on the info, but so far it is doing exactly what I want it to do.)
They are designed for home use with basement sump pumps, but when I called them, the only caution they had for use in boats is possible sloshing of water in the bilge causing an alarm due to excessive movement of the boat. Personally, I want to know if my boat has that sort of movement while sitting at the dock, so I don’t consider that a drawback. I can simply disable it when I go sailing.
I won’t go into a detailed explanation of how it works, if you are interested, I recommend you do your own research. The photos below show how I set mine up. This is a temporary set up until I jump into rewiring the boat and make it all more permanent.
Mounted the electronic (no moving parts to fail) sensor about 6″ below the floor boards. This leaves a lot of room for error, leaving no doubt that when the alarm triggers, there is a problem. If the alarm triggers, I can call the marina security to go check it out and we can deal with whatever is causing the problem.
The sensor above is a float switch as a “back-up” sensor.
Now, as we drive all over the country, we can rest assured that we will be notified of a catastrophic flooding event, or a loss of power. The idea is to get someone there to look at it before I get a phone call that my home is sitting on the bottom.