Looks to me that there is a standoff here, at least with some of the contributors. All good comments though and valid concerns and thoughts given. Very healthy. I will politely continue to disagree with some of the comments though.
Personally, I would be fine with any cable that meets or exceeds the standards discussed. Note that standards are not necessarily requirements. They are minimums for me
though. I have replaced too many wires that were either the wrong choice of wire and/or wrong care in installation. One of the scariest was when I and a few others roared out of an anchorage in Mexico
a boat which had left about 15 minutes earlier.
It had a fire on board in the engine
space. He got the fire under control by stopping the motor
and using a fire extinguisher. We used our dinks to tow him back to a slip in the marina nearby. His alternator
cable had overheated to an extreme degree. The insulation
was completely burnt off and the resulting fire had burnt several other wires - basically his entire engine
harness and some other small power cables
To say he was traumatized would not be an exaggeration. He could have lost
the boat or he or wife could have been severely injured or have died. I don't know what "standard" his cable was as it was burnt beyond recognition. It was not welding cable or boat cable since the wire diameters that made up the cable were too big and thus the cable was not a flexible type. It was an older boat - about the same age as my new/old boat.
Luckily I had a pretty extensive kit of wire, parts
, and cables
(I had hoped to make some money
doing work on other boats). I replaced all the damaged wire but he had to deal with the scorched wood and smoke damage. I don't know if they cut short their cruising plans but I never ran in to them again. Also, he was not a cheapskate and his boat was maintained to a high standard. I don't know who installed the wire that burnt but it probably was not him.
I have seen several fires first hand in our marina here in Washington
but am not a fire investigator and have not heard what specifically sparked these fires. But most were complete losses and I know that most were electrical by general reporting. One, however, was from leaving a bundle of oily rags on deck
The type of cable used on these boats may not have had anything to do with these incidents, but I have personally seen too many boats with poor, deteriorated cables which could easily have caused fires.
And, as noted, a label stamped on a wire jacket does not mean that specific wire meets the standard referenced. I try to buy only cable by manufacturers that I, and professionals, have used in their work. It seems to me that one of the posters has a deeper seated feelings about the expense of parts
labeled "marine" with high associated costs. I have similar feelings as to "why does every marine
part have to be so flipping expensive?".
But I go ahead and buy the marine
(at the lowest cost I can) because I have seen hundreds and hundreds of cases, not only with wire and cable but other gear
, where the non-marine gear failed quicker. I don't like constantly cleaning
rust off of bad s/s (especially if it is still labeled marine at a high price). I also do not like to buy anything made in China
. Sometimes I buy the most expensive gear for some critical items, or just because I like it (I dearly loved the Andersen winches I bought that went with my previous boat).
P.S. I have never made an extra nickel personally by using the higher priced wire. If a customer brings his/her own wire I am OK with that provided it is boat wire. I will not install non-boat wire, ever. If the owner wants it he/she will have to put it on themselves. Same for friends and their boats that I work on for beer
And go ahead and see if you save any money
by sourcing some high quality locomotive cable much cheaper overall than you can through a boat supply or Amazon for that matter. But compare apples to apples. Include shipping
as it is a huge part of the cost of heavy copper wire. But I think I mentioned, it is extremely difficult to buy exactly the length you need since it is almost impossible to measure correctly so you will have to go back and order more still (usually in full rolls) at much more hassle (unless you are not close to a marine supply). So buying
online works sometimes and sometimes not.
it out and go with what you want. It's your boat and the Coasties are not going to write you up for not having the recommended cabling. Your insurance
company might have an opinion but in my experience the people that go too cheap
on systems go cheap
on insurance too. Personally I wouldn't want to be moored next to a boat with poor quality cabling. Not saying any of the commenters here would go that cheap. It seems to me to be more of a stand against the high price
of marine gear in general and not a cheap approach to maintaining their boats (per se). Unfortunately many who rant the most about the high cost of materials tend to do work on their own boats without having a clue as to how to do it safely. This is NOT intended to be a slam on any of the contributors to this thread. Just my actual observation with some owners.
That's my rant and I am sticking to it.