Remote vessel monitoring

For a long time I’ve dreamt of having a system that would send me an email or text message when there’s something wrong. There are a lot of very high priced systems out there that you can purchase and for a monthly fee, have specific things monitored. Many of them are very bulky, require a lot of specialized hardware, and cost an arm and a leg.

Recently, I was reading a sailing magazine (forget which one) and saw a write-up on a new system called Boat Sense Solutions. The system seemed really well thought out, and was reasonably priced. The product is a cell phone based text message device that will monitor a number of items on your boat, and send you and your two closest friends text messages when things are awry.

After a bit of investigation, and questions to the manufacturer, which were answered very quickly, I bought the BSS2.1 version, a fire detector, and a dedicated bilge pump sensor. I ordered everything from one of their recommended vendors, Hamilton Marine, and it arrived super speedily.

The product is well documented with color diagrams and wiring instructions. The actual “radio” portion of the product is very ruggedly designed, and can be mounted outside the boat if desired. I mounted mine in the starboard side of the boat behind my chartplotter in an enclosed cavity.

In about an hour, I had the system up and running, monitoring my battery voltage, new bilge pump switch and fire detector. I sent a few text messages to the device to set up some of the options, and tested it by tripping the bilge switch and the fire detector. Within 30 seconds, my cell phone received a text message with the details of the alarm.

I plan on adding a couple of more relays – one to monitor the cabin temperature, and if it drops below 40 degrees, to alert of a potential freeze situation. The second would be a relay to monitor shore power availability.

For the price, and the flexibility of the device being able to work with normally open and closed circuits, it’s well worth the peace of mind. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who wants to ensure their investment and have early warning of a severely flooded cabin, or worse.

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About Steve Mitchell

I live in Seattle, WA and love sailing, technology, & playing and composing music. I started playing the piano when I was 3, and ended up figuring out many other instruments along the way. I'm an avid sailor and have a 2000 Beneteau 311 named Grace, and sail it whenever and wherever I can.

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