Archive for the ‘Electrical’ Category

I wanted to add spreader lights to allow better use of the boat at night. Sometimes when anchoring it’s also nice to light the boat up for a midnight swim, or just to make it easier when cleaning things up at the dock after getting back after dark. I picked up 2 of the high output 600 lumen Dr LED Kevin Spreader lights, and 25ft of 16/4 tinned marine wire. I had the mast down in preparation for this, and had to cut the rivets off the mast base (sorry, forgot to take pics of that) to gain access to the conduit inside the mast.

For the actual installation I took off the steaming light and used it’s power wire to pull a length of twine up to the 3/4″ hole in the mast under the steaming light, then pulled the steaming light wire, along with 2 lengths of twine back down the mast with the first length of twine pulled up.  Leaving one length tied off as a backup we then pulled the new wire through the conduit and out the steaming light hole, where  the outer insulation was stripped leaving the 4 wires.  Read the rest of this entry »


My boat didn’t come with an electric bilge pump. Since I have an outboard, and the only original below the waterline thruhull was for the galley sink drain, and the rudder post sits above the waterline, I guess they decided it wasn’t needed.  Since the ice chest and head / shower floor drain both empty into the bilge, it can fill up pretty quick on a hot summer weekend  with melt water and if someone wants to rinse off in private.  I really wanted to install an automatic electric pump to keep the water level in check as I have on more than one occasion gone out for a sail and forgotten to manually pump out the water first, and when heeled over the water spills out onto the cabin sole and makes a big mess.

Due to the small volume of water the bilge can hold, and some old rule of thumb that I heard somewhere long ago, a reasonably sized working pump (aka non emergency pump) should be able to pump out the entire bilge in under 2 minutes, and about 30 seconds or less at the level the auto float switch kicks in.   Based on this, and the estimate that my bilge holds about 5 gallons, that means I only need a pump that can handle 2.5gal / min, or 150 gph (2.5*60). Since the smallest commonly available pump is 500 gph (at zero lift), I shouldn’t have a problem with this.   I also didn’t want an old float style auto switch as they are too easy to jam. I picked the Rule Mate 500 because it contains an integrated electronic water sensing float switch (i.e. no moving parts), and is rated at 250 gph with a 3ft lift (exactly what I happen to have). Read the rest of this entry »

My boat came in two versions, one the inboard diesel, and the other the outboard.   For some reason the outboard version did not come with a main battery switch, so the electrical fuse panel and VHF are always powered, and everything just gets attached directly to the battery terminals.  Since before I bought the boat I’ve planned to install a battery switch, clean up the wiring and just upgrade the electrical in general. It took me quite a while to figure out how I wanted to do this, but this spring I finally decided what I wanted to do. This is part 1 of the electrical system upgrade. Part 2 will be replacing the 5 position fuse panel with a custom made breaker panel from Bass Electric later this summer.

Below is the decided upon design. I purchased 100 amp bus bars for the main power distribution as I think my max non-starting draw with everything on and the VHF transmitting is around 25 amps, but as I don’t know exactly how many amps the engine draws when starting I decided to stay on the safe side and attach the engine cables to the same terminal posts on the bus bar as the power feed cables so the engine starter cables would be directly attached to the  battery feed without drawing through the bus bar.

Click for larger version

 EDIT: see the post about the inverter installation for additions to this system

Read the rest of this entry »

Last year at the Defender spring sale I bought a Davis Windex light as I do end up sailing after dark rather frequently, and running the anchor light to see the Windex just goes against everything that I stand for.  I had every intention of hooking up a Windex light to my Nav lights this spring while re-wiring the mast and adding spreader lights, but then I realized that between finding a deck fitting for the extra circuit, and the cost of the wire, it was going to be at least a hundred dollar solution.  So about 3 weeks ago I was in Target and saw they have mini garden / walkway path lights for $2.  I took a look at it in the store and figured for $2 it was worth trying out and worst case, I occupy myself for a few hours and it’ll only cost $2. I opted for the one with what appeared to be a brushed stainless steel housing, although they have black and brown plastic, as well as copper options.  The operation of the lights is already wired to be perfect for the needs of a Windex light as it automatically turns the light on whenever the amount of light hitting the solar panel drops below a certain amount, with the solar panel doubling as a photo-voltaic cell to turn on / off the light.


Small solar panel on top, but how much does it take to charge / power a single LED? Read the rest of this entry »

I decided to replace my cabin lights with newer, brighter, and more energy efficient LED lighting, and I wanted to add the option for red lights for night as I do go out at night a fair amount, and really hate when someone turns on the white cabin lights and I am at the helm as I go blind from all the light.

My old cabin lights were these Guest 5 3/4″ lights, I replaced 2 of the 3, leaving the one in the head alone (the one pictured below) as it doesn’t get used much, nor does it need the red light option.

I did quite a bit of research on what LED lights out there were the best, and I finally decided to take Maine Sail’s very good test results and purchase the white and red Sensi Bulbs G4 replacment LED despite the fact that they are pretty much the most expensive solution I found. Once I decided on the Sensi Bulb I had to locate a housing to put them in, and I finally decided on the ABI 7″ stainless steel dual bulb dome light Unfortunatly Defender shipped me the high/low model instead of the white / red model, so I had to do a little re-wireing of the switch so it didn’t turn both bulbs on at the same time, that fix only took me about 15 minutes in total for both lights so it wasn’t a big deal.

Installation was pretty straight forward, I removed the old lights, cut the wires, and put them aside. Then I filled the center of my butt connectors with DiElectric grease, and cripmed the connector on the exposed ends of the wires, pre-drilled the mounting holes and screwed the lights into the cabin top. Installed the bulbs (everything was pre-installation tested) and flipped the cabin light breaker and tested them out. 

I’m glad I went with Maine Sail’s reccomendation, the lights are very bright at night and they really light up the cabin well, and the red option is great for when I’m underway and don’t want to kill my night vision.  Plus being that they are low power consumption LEDs, I don’t have to worry about the cabin lights draining the batteries while we sit at anchor.

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