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Old 22-10-2015, 05:25   #1
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New system on a project boat

I just bought a 1970 30' Morgan, it's my first boat with electronics. I've always had hobie's and sunfish, lasers, bucs etc so forgive my ignorance.

The morgan has a 14hp Yammer diesel engine and no electronics. Well I don't know if a bilge pump is consider an electronic.

We'll have the boat on the hook at a mooring in front of my Dad's house in Florida. The boat will be a weekender for my family. I'm trying to wrap my head around electronics, charging, solar, batteries etc.

Is there a calculator/form you can put all the devices and electronics you want in the boat and it'll spit out recommendations on solar/wind, batteries, inverters etc? Sounds like I'm being lazy but I'm a software programmer so I figured, "maybe I'll build something to help other people, if it's useful."

Is there a "beginners guide to sailboat electronic systems"?

Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.
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Old 22-10-2015, 05:47   #2
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Re: New system on a project boat

There's a fairly good worksheet here:

http://newcontent.westmarine.com/con...r/Elecbugt.pdf


It doesn't tell you what power sources you need , because every situation is different - it depends on what sort of boat you have and where you are sailing. But it does give let you put in various energy sources and see what you can generate from them.
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Old 22-10-2015, 05:52   #3
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Re: New system on a project boat

Welcome to CF Allan!!!

Boy howdy... Theres a TON of stuff here on this subject if you start using the search functions...

One of our resident awesome guru's of all things electric and more is:

Cruisers & Sailing Forums - View Profile: Maine Sail

Associated website:

Compass Marine How To Articles Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Old 22-10-2015, 06:40   #4
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Re: New system on a project boat

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Allan.
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Old 22-10-2015, 08:18   #5
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Re: New system on a project boat

Welcome Allan. Let me underscore HappyMdRSailor's post

"One of our resident awesome guru's of all things electric and more is:
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - View Profile: Maine Sail
Associated website: Compass Marine How To Articles Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com"

I am doing significant rewiring (simplifying) on my boat and consult MaineSail religiously. Spent an hour this morning on his battery monitors write up. StuM's form from West Marine is a good way to think about why your real needs will be. Start simple--add later as you really need it. Depth gauge/sounder is pretty handy in these skinny waters on FL Gulf Coast.
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Old 22-10-2015, 09:35   #6
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
There's a fairly good worksheet here:

http://newcontent.westmarine.com/con...r/Elecbugt.pdf


It doesn't tell you what power sources you need , because every situation is different - it depends on what sort of boat you have and where you are sailing. But it does give let you put in various energy sources and see what you can generate from them.
Wow, this is exciting! I created this spreadsheet about 15 years ago, and I always thought it would be a helpful tool for offshore sailors. Originally, I had in mind boats that sail in the Pacific Cup (at that time, it was the West Marine Pacific Cup) because many of these boats ended up running their engines excessively to charge batteries, and some couldn't start their engines at some point during the race.

For this particular example, there's a need to maintain batteries for a boat on a mooring, as I understand it. Presuming that the boat isn't leaking, the energy need to run a bilge pump occasionally and to keep batteries at float voltage is very modest. The larger question is what the vessel's needs are when underway in normal "cruising" use.

If anyone has any comments on the WM energy budget spreadsheet, I would be happy to hear from you.

Chuck Hawley
(Former) West Marine Associate
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Old 22-10-2015, 10:33   #7
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Re: New system on a project boat

Congratulations on the purchase of your first "big" boat. IMHO, your Morgan 30 was an excellent choice. Big enough for comfort, small enough to handle easily.

With regards to terminology, "electronics" usually refers to items like instruments (speed, depth, wind,etc) and radios (vhf, ssb, etc). Stuff like bilge pumps, solar panels, refrigeration, batteries and lights would be more like "electrical". Sometimes all the bits that connect all the pieces are lumped together as "wiring". Rewiring a boat is a huge job.

While I admire your ambition at designing a new electrical system for your boat, I'd like to mention its mostly luxury, aside from running lights and an anchor light. When I was rewiring my old C&C25, buying group 24 batteries, charger, solar panel, distribution panel, etc...the wife once asked me "why don't we just use a couple flashlights below instead". I could not think of a good reason. On that boat I used handheld GPS, handheld VHF, and manual bilge pump (bilge did not leak). All of the wiring was for LED lights below, running lights, and several very useful 12volt outlets for recharging the handheld devices. Anyway, my point is to get you thinking, and to make sure you realize you can still use your sailboat right now, with no electricity at all.

The biggest power drain on my most recent boat was the 19" LED TV which was installed to keep the kids happy. I had never been short on volts before installing that demon.

I hope you post some pictures and let us know how its going!
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:11   #8
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
...
Is there a calculator/form you can put all the devices and electronics you want in the boat and it'll spit out recommendations on solar/wind, batteries, inverters etc? Sounds like I'm being lazy but I'm a software programmer...
Al--just a thought that you might want to resist the urge to try to program and computerize a bunch of boat data and, instead, listen to the boat and let the boat tell you what it needs. Every time you sail, listen to and feel the boat, the wind, the waves and wake; watch the sails; feel the groove. And try not to become absorbed and dependent on the digital data. A magnetic compass, a watch, a chart, leadline, some yarn wind indicators and a Windex wind pointer. You can add a hand-held GPS and VHF radio, to start. To keep the batteries up while on its mooring, add a simple solar charger.

With your sailing experience you will quickly master the 30-footer. Then you will have a better idea of what electronics you must have and you will know what is essential. That is, begin with the basics; then you will have your backup systems already in place, once you set out to add electronics: built-in VHF radio and antenna, depth sounder & speed/log, at least. To these you might next add wind instruments, then GPS/plotter (which could integrate depth sounder).

Resist the urge to make a bunch of changes all at once. Sail the boat and let it tell you what it needs.
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:30   #9
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
I just bought a 1970 30' Morgan, it's my first boat with electronics. I've always had hobie's and sunfish, lasers, bucs etc so forgive my ignorance.

The morgan has a 14hp Yammer diesel engine and no electronics. Well I don't know if a bilge pump is consider an electronic.

We'll have the boat on the hook at a mooring in front of my Dad's house in Florida. The boat will be a weekender for my family. I'm trying to wrap my head around electronics, charging, solar, batteries etc.

Is there a calculator/form you can put all the devices and electronics you want in the boat and it'll spit out recommendations on solar/wind, batteries, inverters etc? Sounds like I'm being lazy but I'm a software programmer so I figured, "maybe I'll build something to help other people, if it's useful."

Is there a "beginners guide to sailboat electronic systems"?

Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.
If the idea is family weekending don't go wild. It's a good boat but 45 years old. I would think a small solar panel may do you well to keep the battery up during the week. I would call the bilge pump electrical not electronic but if on the hook unattended, it may be the best piece of equipment you have. I would have two.
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Old 22-10-2015, 11:33   #10
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Re: New system on a project boat

Welcome to the forum Allen, Terra Nova has a very good point, having said that, I am just finishing up one portion of a major rewiring project on my boat, it is nowhere near finished, but I have run out of patience working on it for the last 9 months. For me when starting something like that, I would map out what is going to be needed where on a basic drawing of the boat and then follow Terra Nova's advice and you will add or subtract things as you gain experience. Once you feel that you have pretty much an outline of what you need and want, go in and take out all of the old wiring and go back in with new, of course label everything and when pulling a wire out of a chase, attach a string to it so you can pull the new wire in.
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Old 22-10-2015, 12:58   #11
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Re: New system on a project boat

So much great feedback and advice. Much appreciated. I'll start by making sure my electric items are installed properly and serviced with a solar recharger for my batteries. Later I'll look for electronics.
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Old 22-10-2015, 20:36   #12
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Re: New system on a project boat

I say this a lot but I would get Calder's "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual". Clear and complete. Has what you need.
Heat shrink your connections when possible.
Good luck
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Old 22-10-2015, 21:09   #13
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post

Is there a "beginners guide to sailboat electronic systems"?

Your wisdom is greatly appreciated.
The answer is a NO!

There is only one way to install marine electrical and electronic systems.

The expert way.

This kinda feels like the time I had kids pull up alongside in a run-about and ask for directions to a destination out in Georgian Bay.

After considering that I could be sending them to their peril if they didn't get my instructions right, I told them how to get to the nearest marina to buy charts.

So, the best advice I can give is to read ABYC E11 (Electrical Standards) cover to cover, and if there is anything you're not sure about, ask. If you have to ask more than 3 things, you need to read it again. This is a compilation of standards created by marine electrical experts.

While Calder's and Casey's books are pretty good about certain systems, they don't really cover the
standards, and even if they did, it wouldn't really matter. (It's a, "Just because you saw it on the internet (or read it in a book), doesn't mean you can do it", kind of a thing. )

Next, my best advise is don't go cheap on the products. Use Ancor wiring and connectors, Marinco shore power cables and connectors, and Blue Sea panels and breakers.

Equipped with this, please don't burn your boat to the waterline (which is all too easy, even if your think you have it all figured out.)

There are things one just can't learn from an evening of reading or an hour of YouTube video viewing.

Just because 12Vdc won't electrocute you, doesn't mean it doesn't deserve your full respect and attention.

As part of my current marine electrical seminar for boating groups, I start out asking...

"Who does their own electrical repairs and improvements?"

(About 50% of hands go up.)

Then I ask, "Of those, who believes it was done properly?"

(All the hands stay up.)

Then I ask, "Who is so sure of that, they will invite me aboard to perform an electrical inspection, free if it's safe, $200 if I find one electrical safety issue?"

(All the hands go down.)

After the seminar, when I've shown several images of tragic boat fires, and gone through many of the electrical safety issues I encounter, 2 or 3 come up and ask me to do a $200 inspection. They know (now) that they have (and I am going to find) electrical safety issues.

The reason I can do this, is because in my experience to date, about 90% of all boats on the water today have unsafe electrical issues, and about 50% of owner DIY work, is absolutely atrocious. If asked, nobody will say, "The wiring I performed is terrible". They simply don't know just how unsafe it is.

I'm not saying, "Don't do your own electrical work." I'm just saying, "If you are going to do it, for everyone's sake (yourself, your crew, the next owner, and the boat), ensure you do it expertly, not beginnerly."

When you need it, a bilge pump must work, to the best of its potential performance, or a maritime tragedy could occur. When you need it a VHF must work, to the best of its potential performance, or a maritime tragedy could occur. When you need it, the engine starter must turn, to the best of its potential performance, or a maritime tragedy could occur. You get my drift.

Sailing gives one all kinds of freedom, to move without the sound of infernal combustion engines, to move without roads or guard rails dictating where, to move without adherence to strict schedule, and so on.

It also gives one the freedom to mess up electrical stuff they know way too little about.

So if you want to do the leg work and approach this project properly, my hats off to you, but if you want to browse a "beginners guide" or spend a week searching forums, before attempting to install or modify a marine electrical system, my best advice is, DON'T!
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Old 22-10-2015, 22:33   #14
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Re: New system on a project boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
The answer is a NO!

...
So if you want to do the leg work and approach this project properly, my hats off to you, but if you want to browse a "beginners guide" or spend a week searching forums, before attempting to install or modify a marine electrical system, my best advice is, DON'T!

Actually, the answer is a "YES".

The OP didn't intimate in any way that he intended to install or modify a marine electrical system. In fact he was quite clear: " I'm trying to wrap my head around electronics, charging, solar, batteries etc."

At this stage, he is only trying to identify his requirements. And for that purpose there are indeed "beginners guides to sailboat electronic systems".
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Old 23-10-2015, 06:28   #15
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Re: New system on a project boat

STUM, no worries, there's been a ton of great advice on this thread. I'm going to continue to research systems but not buy anything until next year. The reality is we'll mostly be sailing in a bay I've live on and sailed in for 35 years so I don't need anything fancy to enjoy the boat in the spring. I can slowly add electronics as needed once we venture out to other bays.

I really appreciate everyone's comments and wisdom.
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