Ive just acquired a so 26. There is a little water in the bilge 1 week after lift in. No evidence of defects other than condensation or poss leak around pushpip stantion. My quwstion is are the bilge pumps usually automatic. Cant see an extern float. Pump works fine when switched on although water is well below level which will pump. Any helpful replies welcome Paul.
If you don't have a float switch you should consider putting one in. It's not difficult but running the wires can be a pain. Don't cheap out on the float switch, they are prone to failure in nasty ways.
Is the water in the bilge salt or fresh? If salt then you have a slow leak that you should probably try to track it down. If fresh then it's probably condensation or rain water so less urgency.
Hi Paul, a bit of a late entry to this conversation, but I suspect you might be interested in a few more ideas in response to your question.
The pump supplied on my boat has a three position switch. One position is “off”. One is “on” as you have described. The third is wired through a level switch which is actually part of the pump, so it works only when the level switch detects a level. It is labelled “auto”. Some members have found that when the pump stops, the pipe arrangement allows some run back, which in some cases is enough to start the pump again. In this case, it needs to be switched off until you mop out the bilge. But not much use if you are at home, and don’t get back to the boat as often as you would like. A check valve in the pump discharge line would solve this, but the valves tend to be prone to blockage by rubbish that inevitably lives hidden in the bilge until called into action by the bilge pump operating. So as in many fields, you solve one problem only to cause another.
If you only have an on-off switch, you could install a second two way switch to toggle between on and automatic modes.
There are two aspects that come up often in discussion on all models of every manufacturer. First, how to make a bilge pump operate in a satisfactory way and be reliable in operation. And second, the power supply, and what to do when you leave the boat.
David has made some good suggestions about level separate level switches for you to consider. It is difficult to design a bilge pump that truly empties the boat, there will always be a little left for you to swab out when the water source is fixed. But the main purpose is specifically to stop the boat sinking. An inlet filter with a generous size to minimise chance of blocking, and a low profile if the bottom of the bilge is very flat (as per the SO30i) is a good modification to consider. Also a separate float switch that is easier to check. The combined units normally supplied are neat looking and install easily, but have too many failure modes. So if you are concerned, a little upgrade is worthwhile. All the components are available in most chandlers so you can put together something you are happy with.
Generally wooden boats of traditional construction tended to leak a bit so a bilge pump was very necessary, and the only issue was how to provide power.
With modern boats of fibreglass construction, significant leakage is less of a problem, so it is more a matter of risk management.
On my boat, the battery isolation switches isolate the batteries from everything. And the Jeanneau agent advised me to always isolate the batteries as part of my shutdown procedure when I leave the boat. This seems to assume that electrical faults might be a more likely problem while I am away than leakage, which is probably reasonable. Obviously these things are never 100% one way or the other, you don’t know what fault will affect you, but with reasonable maintenance it would be very unlucky to have everything go wrong.
Others leave the batteries connected and even fridges running. I this case it is a matter of how to ensure the batteries are maintained.
Solar panels these days do provide a reasonable answer to that. And it seems that some marinas allow boats to remain plugged into shore power, another whole can of worms.
I have seen recommended a separate “emergency bus”, a separate small switch board where the bilge pump and perhaps an anchor light, or these days an internet connected alarm system can remain connected to the batteries to cover the high risk scenarios, while the main switchboard with all the other electrical equipment is isolated. But this is a bit more expensive so not generally included on mass produced boats.
We all work it out differently, and in the end we each need to do what allows us to sleep at night, both on and off the boat.
I hope that that gives you a few ideas to think about. And it might elicit some thoughts from other members.