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Old 12-04-2014, 14:51   #1
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Mast Wiring

I have a Hunter 34. I have the mast off currently, as I'm replacing my compression post and all standing rigging. While the mast is down, I'm taking the opportunity to replace my wind transducer and cabling, as well as my masthead and steaming/deck lights and associated wiring. I'm now wondering the best way to route my new wiring through my step. When I removed my mast, there were several plug connectors. I could replace these, but I was thinking why not skip the connectors and make straight runs from my masts light fixtures all the way to the panel. I know that I would not be able to remove my mast again without either cutting the wires or removing them from the panel, but I'm pretty much replacing everything right now and don't foresee having to remove my mast again any time soon. Is there any problems with straight runs all the way through? I think this would be the cleanest way. And, does anyone have any experience with Blue Sea clams? Would that be an option for me at my step? I need to make two runs (one for my masthead and one for my steaming/deck light), as well as my transducer cable and VHF, for a total of four wire runs.

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Old 12-04-2014, 14:59   #2
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Re: Mast Wiring

Properly installed plugs are more water tite than a clam on a strait run, and allow you to destepped the mast. The trade off is a possible bad connection.

I guess the real question is how important is it to have the best possible connection to what's up the mast. For a light I don't see it at all, for a sattelite communications array it may be worth it.
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Old 12-04-2014, 15:22   #3
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Re: Mast Wiring

Straight runs are best because you don't have any breaks in the wiring to corrode or otherwise give you trouble. Of course, you or the next owner will be swearing if you want to pull the mast at a later date. Personally, used a junction strip under the mast step and ran all the mast wiring to that and then on to the panel. Ran the VHF cable all the way to the radio, however.

The Blue Sea Wire Pass Throughs work fine but get pricey if you have multiple wires and take up a bit of real-estate that may not be available in the confines of the step. I drilled a hole in the mast and deck and used through hulls with hose to run the wires below. Saves the problem of the mast step filling with water, soaking the wiring and possible leaks into the deck core.
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Old 12-04-2014, 15:25   #4
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Re: Mast Wiring

I'd stay with plugs. You may not plan on having to pull the stick again any time soon, but things still break unexpectedly.ir would really suck if one of the wires broke after the mast is stepped. Instead of replacing one short wire you'll end up having to replace several long ones instead.

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Old 12-04-2014, 20:09   #5
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Re: Mast Wiring

Keep it easy to unplug. Your planned improvement isn't.
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Old 12-04-2014, 20:16   #6
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Re: Mast Wiring

just put enough slack in the wires to replace with a junction box after you cut the wires to remove the mast. sounds like the easiest way to do in my opinion. most trouble with mast wiring is in the junction box, why not start without one?
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Old 12-04-2014, 20:46   #7
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Re: Mast Wiring

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Straight runs are best because you don't have any breaks in the wiring to corrode or otherwise give you trouble. Of course, you or the next owner will be swearing if you want to pull the mast at a later date. Personally, used a junction strip under the mast step and ran all the mast wiring to that and then on to the panel. Ran the VHF cable all the way to the radio, however.

The Blue Sea Wire Pass Throughs work fine but get pricey if you have multiple wires and take up a bit of real-estate that may not be available in the confines of the step. I drilled a hole in the mast and deck and used through hulls with hose to run the wires below. Saves the problem of the mast step filling with water, soaking the wiring and possible leaks into the deck core.
I agree. I've switched to a Blue Sea clam for my radar cable because the prior deck connector became finicky and unreliable. I now use a terminal strip inside the boat (in the headliner) where it's dry and protected. I recommend you use a dab of Teflon synthetic grease to lube the contact areas between the wire's insulation jacket and the rubber compression collar, as an extra measure to seal out the water.
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Old 13-04-2014, 14:32   #8
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Re: Mast Wiring

I suggest considering leaving extra length, such as in a loop, below decks near the mast. It's usually possible to hide them in the structure or headliner. Then you can cut and spice later, if mast removal is needed. I don't like doing it with radar cables, though. When needing to unstep the mast with a radar cable installed, I would prefer to bite the bullet and disconnect and remove the cable from below decks and take it out in it's entirety, with the mast.
Connections of the other runs, done properly below deck are pretty much trouble free.
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Old 13-04-2014, 15:11   #9
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Re: Mast Wiring

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...When needing to unstep the mast with a radar cable installed, I would prefer to bite the bullet and disconnect and remove the cable from below decks and take it out in it's entirety, with the mast...
Most radar cables I've dealt with have a large connector at the display end, requiring snaking the cable up the mast and making the connections at the scanner.
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Old 13-04-2014, 15:22   #10
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Re: Mast Wiring

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Most radar cables I've dealt with have a large connector at the display end, requiring snaking the cable up the mast and making the connections at the scanner.
I have a Kenyon mast, which I believe allows access to the wires up the length of the mast by removing plates, so I really shouldn't have to snake anything.
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Old 13-04-2014, 15:34   #11
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Re: Mast Wiring

My mast also has a "removable" plate over the wire channel--removable with the mast un-stepped, off the boat.
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Old 15-04-2014, 10:07   #12
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Re: Mast Wiring

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
My mast also has a "removable" plate over the wire channel--removable with the mast un-stepped, off the boat.
Yes, mine too. I recently pulled my mast to replace all the standing rigging, so now's the time to replace all of my wiring and update w/ new steaming/deck and masthead lights. I'm also taking the opportunity to install a new wind transducer and cable, and to run my radar cable. My boat doesn't currently have radar. I'm assuming I can drill a hole above the steaming light just large enough to fit the cable an connector through the hole and maybe use a Blue Sea clam connector over that? I'm thinking it should be pretty basic - just have never drilled a hole in my mast before. lol

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Old 15-04-2014, 10:52   #13
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Re: Mast Wiring

It is quite likely that there is insufficient room in the wire channel to add the (rather large) radar cable, but worth checking, rather than hanging it inside the mast.
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Old 15-04-2014, 11:14   #14
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Re: Mast Wiring

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It is quite likely that there is insufficient room in the wire channel to add the (rather large) radar cable, but worth checking, rather than hanging it inside the mast.

Here's looking into the bottom of my mast. The wires start forward (left in the picture) and, about eight to ten inches up, go through a hole and into the wire channel (the far left of the picture, which is aft on the boat). I don't have the radar cable in hand, but I think it should fit.
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Old 15-04-2014, 11:34   #15
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Re: Mast Wiring

If you drill into the mast, be sure to de-burr the hole to prevent any stress risers
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