When boaters rely on high-tech mechanical systems and electronics, it heightens the importance of proper maintenance and care of the boat's electrical system.
“These days, it seems as though most every electronic accessory has an on-board microprocessor,” says Dave Laska, owner of L&L Electronics in Branford, Conn., and an occasional Soundings contributor. “You wouldn't plug in your new office PC straight into a wall outlet without going through a surge protector, and we all know how poorly the remote works on your big-screen TV when its batteries are weak. The same rules apply on your boat. Clean, stable power is the key to eliminating electronic problems.”
That means the electrical system and the components it powers must be maintained and checked regularly.
Click play to watch marine consultant Steve D'Antonio point out errors in a small-boat battery installation and explain how they can be fixed.
Two offshore incidents described in a story about electrical maintenance in the upcoming September issue of Soundings illustrate why a boat's electrical system needs to be installed, designed and functioning correctly. No one was hurt in the incidents, which occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and off New Jersey. But the boaters in the Gulf spent 18 hours clinging to their boat before they were rescued, and the crew of the New Jersey boat waited two days, drifting without power, before they were found.
In both cases the design and installation of the electrical systems, particularly the battery installations, needed to be reassessed and upgraded to increase their reliability, according to a trio of experts that included Steve D'Antonio, technical editor of PassageMaker magazine and an independent marine consultant.