Installing a security system on your floating palace can involve something as simple as placing a couple of sensors for the main and forward hatches, or it can expand to a CPU-controlled network of a dozen or more touch screens and over a hundred wireless sensors distributed throughout your vessel. Most cruisers, though, undoubtedly will find comfort with an installation falling somewhere between those two extremes.
To install any electronic system, we obviously follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The brief overview offered here is simply for familiarization. Once you see how easy it is to protect your boat with a security system, you will be all the more comfortable with the prospect of installing such a system yourself.
The first step in arranging a set of entry sensors is to identify hatches and other portals large enough for someone to climb into the cabin. Consider placing sensors under a rug or mat at the companionway, and at the point where someone first steps aboard as well. If you do not already have monitors for your battery banks and bilge, these too should be included in your network.
As an example, we will look at the Siren Marine MTC Device, which offers easy installation that any sailor can complete within a few hours. Make sure you have on hand a basic set of hand tools, plus wire strippers, butt connectors and a spool each of black and red, 16-gauge, marine-grade wire.
The first step to installing the wireless motion sensors is to place the Siren Marine MTC control unit in a convenient location, preferably near the main electrical panel. Then affix the sensors strategically, using either the screws or installation tape supplied with the components. Install each mounting bracket and then snap the sensors into place. Following the instructions, pair the sensors to the control unit.
If adding the Siren Marine battery monitor to the mix, find a secure point to mount the monitor, which is easily installed with a flat-head screwdriver and 16-gauge wire. Once you install this device, consider adding a bilge monitor as well. Install the wireless bilge sensor module above the high-water mark, securing the device with the supplied adhesive tape. Then plug the high-water tail piece into the wireless module and tighten the two hex screws. Finally, pair the wireless module to the control unit.
Each wireless sensor has a CR2430 lithium cell battery, normally rated for a two-year lifetime. Each battery costs anywhere from $3.00 to $6.00; the Energizer four-pack will set you back 15 bucks at Walmart.
Add other components as your needs demand and budget allows, such as monitors for oil pressure and engine hours. The beauty of this system and others in its class is its expandability and ease of installation. No more need to run wire back and forth under settees and behind sinks and heads in order to secure your vessel from uninvited guests, overflowing bilges or a dead battery bank.
Circumnavigator-author Bill Morris is the author of Sun, Wind, & Water: The Essential Guide to the Energy-Efficient Cruising Boat and is a frequent contributor to Ocean Navigator.