Sorry I have been off the air for a while. Time is a problem when you have more to do than running a Blog. But I am writing some interesting articles to post in the next week or so so stay tuned. Comments are welcome. If you have any questions pertaining to small craft design or marine electrical/electronic systems please send them along.
As a designer and builder as well as a marine electronics/electrical technician I have seen boats become in some instances large collections of electrical ‘things’ along with large battery banks to feed these electrical goodies. If you are building your own boat and it will have electrical equipment on board beyond the engine starter and maybe navigation lights, read on.
Depending on the size of the boat and what ‘things’ you want or need, having a professional help you or do the planning and installation might be a good idea BUT in my opinion there is a level of complexity an amateur can take on with the right knowledge and information that does not require going to school. What is this level of complexity? First keep your systems to a minimum. You will probably need navigation lights, maybe some cabin or utility lights. You may want a fishfinder or depth sounder, possibly a VHF radio, maybe a small chartplotter/GPS. You will need or should have at least one bilge pump, a horn, maybe a sound system. This is a reasonable list though not complete that could be handled by an amateur builder. What you don’t want to tackle for your first major project, dual 12/24 volt battery systems, lithium batteries and you might want to think seriously about having AC power stuff on board utilizing shorepower. AC power requires a lot of care. The advantage of doing the work yourself is twofold. First you save labor money and secondly and more importantly, you understand your electrical system and will be able to add to your system and repair your system, particularly if you are on the water. I will be posting a procedure for planning your electrical project along with postings to develope the knowledge needed to be successful at doing your own project. After you build your boat, planning and installing your own electrical system is a real feather in your cap.
I just read my current copy of “Professional Boatbuilder ” magazine. Aaron Porter wrote in his front page editorial about the self regulation of the recreational marine industry. I agree that those of us who work in the recreational boating business have been fortunate that we police ourselves with very little interference from the Coast Guard. However we has humans have a tendency to get complacent. There are boats out there that should not be on the water. Too many of these substandard boats, and the government is going to come knocking. Then the whole industry is in trouble. So think of that when you are servicing or building a boat; quality and freedom starts with our industry members not legislation. Just my opinion.