Hearing that dreaded screaming sound of an alarm as you’re cruising on the boat causes high anxiety. With all of the boating opportunities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, onboard alarms sounding are frequent. However, some boat owners are unfamiliar with the cause, and as a result, panic sets in. Boat alarm going off: what is it and how to react.

Why Is My Boat Alarm Going Off

There is a long list of causes for alarms sounding on boats. Here is a list of why is my boat alarm going off? However, with the various makes and models, it is not possible to decipher the tone and duration of each. For example, a sea ray alarm going off may differ from Optimax alarm codes noises.

Low Oil

Both two and four-stroke motors require oil to operate; however, they function differently. Two-stroke motors are equipped with oil reservoirs that are injected into the engine during operation.

Four-stroke motors, on the other hand, are similar to an automobile. The oil flows through the engine via an oil pump and requires changes at a scheduled interval.

Fortunately, motors are equipped with sensors to measure oil levels. When the levels drop below a safe level, an alarm sounds. Consult your manual to determine the low oil boat alarm sound. 


Likely the most frequent alarm to sound on a boat. Watercraft engines become overheated due to raw water intake blockages, broken impeller blades, and other causes. High temperatures cause severe damage; therefore, take action immediately.

Overheating occurs in every type of marine engine. When an alarm sounds, glance at the dash for a red light that is typically green. The shift in colors most often indicates high engine temperatures.

Oil Pressure

Low oil pressure spells trouble for marine engines. The failure of an oil pump to circulate oil leads to the powerhead becoming seized.

Keep in mind that oil pressure alarms are serious. Being stranded on the water with a seized engine will cost a significant amount of money in towing and repair.

What Should You With A Boat Alarm Going Off

Here is what to do when you wonder why does my boat alarm go off. First, understand that engine alarm faults do occur. There are times when the boat is not encountering an issue. However, never overlook a sounding alarm. 

Ignoring a sounding alarm can lead to disastrous consequences. As a boat owner, familiarize yourself with the tone and duration of each chime and immediately investigate when the sounds pierce your ears.

Returning the boat to port may cause irreversible damage, and tow is required. However, situations can be remedied, particularly if you are carrying onboard supplies.

One approach to determining if the alarm is a falt is to shut the engine down. Of course, ensure you are in a safe place to do so. Restart the motor and determine if the alarm persists. 

In What Other Methods Can The Cause Of Boat Alarm Going Off Be Determined

With today’s modern technology in the design and construction of boats, digital dashboards have become commonplace. 

Long past is the days of analog displays. Onboard computers diagnose engine faults by measuring readings from sensors strategically positioned. The computers are programmed to relay the message to the operator.

When an alarm sounds, closely inspect the helm gauges. Alarm-specific details can be presented in a multitude of ways. These ways include changes to the coloration of dash lights, written messages scrolling across the display, and other forms.

Utilize these resources to your advantage when you hear alarm boat sounding. The quicker the cause is determined, the less likely long-term damage is sustained.  

We have encountered boat alarms in numerous situations while boating on the ocean. The most common cause in our situation was low oil levels in a two stroke outboard motor. However, the oil was not necessarily low but instead triggered the alarm in rough seas as the oil sloshed within the tank. The imbalance because of rolling frequently caused the screeching horn to notify us.

Boat Alarm Going Off: Now You Know What To Do

Boaters will encounter a boat alarm at some point in time while owning and operating a boat. The key is to avoid becoming panicked and making the situation worse. Remain calm and analyze the severity of the problem. Determine possible remedies while you are out on the water. Never ignore the issue. Always take action. In the event, the boat alarm keeps going off despite attempting to remedy the problem, bring the vessel to the mechanic for professional repair.