BILGE ALARM – BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Truce has never had a bilge alarm.  I know its an essential piece of kit, but I have never got around to fitting one until now.  Every ship I have been on has bilge alarms; they are an important safety item.  I have now remedied the oversight, another little job ticked off the list.

On Truce I run a dry bilge, any water in the bilge is a sign of a leak of some sort.  The bilge pump and float switch are situated in a box above the bilge.  Any water in the bilge would have to rise about 200mm before it overflowed into the bilge box and activated the bilge pump.  This arrangement prevents any discharge of diesel or oil accidentally spilled into the bilge.  There are two lines feeding into the bilge box, one is the drain from the anchor locker and the other is the drain from the shower tray. 

Any water that finds its way into the bilge can be quickly evacuated by a few strokes on the large Whale 30 gal per minute manual bilge pump, which sucks directly from the bottom of the bilge.  The residue can be mopped up with a sponge and cloth.   

For the bilge alarm I have used a standard enclosed Rule float switch which runs to a loud siren that I purchased from Jaycar quite reasonably.  The float switch and alarm is on the same electrical circuit as the bilge pump.  The bilge pump is on an unswitched circuit direct from the house batteries, meaning that its always on.

To install the float switch in the bilge I made a wooden pad (epoxy coated) and stuck it to the inside of the hull using some 3M 5200 (strong stuff).  This arrangement means that I don’t have to screw anything into the hull timber. I then screwed down the float switch to the pad and connected up the electrical circuit.  I have placed a switch in the circuit to silence the alarm.

Once everything was in place I tested the alarm by lifting the float switch.  Yes, it works well and will certainly get my undivided attention if it ever goes off. The switch to silence the alarm is essential. 

If the bilge alarm ever goes off it will scare the pants off me.  It will probably take a few seconds for me to realise what alarm it is.  Now if only it would talk to me and say ‘High level bilge alarm’ in a reassuring voice.

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