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Old 02-03-2009, 18:37   #1
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ABYC electrical rules...WHERE?

Hi all! Riddle me this... When doing a refit, we all want to obey the latest and greatest rules and codes. When your boat is later surveyed, you want everything in order and up to the surveyors snuff... SO WHY AREN'T THE ABYC CODES AVAILABLE TO ALL? If these things are so important, and can save so many lives, shouldn't the latest codes be a free downloadable PDF? If all your insurance carriers want the boat to be up to code, why dont they supply the code? What gives? Did I miss the secret handshake?
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Old 02-03-2009, 19:36   #2
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Hi all! Riddle me this... When doing a refit, we all want to obey the latest and greatest rules and codes. When your boat is later surveyed, you want everything in order and up to the surveyors snuff... SO WHY AREN'T THE ABYC CODES AVAILABLE TO ALL? If these things are so important, and can save so many lives, shouldn't the latest codes be a free downloadable PDF? If all your insurance carriers want the boat to be up to code, why dont they supply the code? What gives? Did I miss the secret handshake?
It's a not for profit business. How are they going to stay in business if it's free? The secret handshake is the $25 to buy the code section you want. Like NFPA, unless cited in law, it is not law.

John
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Old 02-03-2009, 19:39   #3
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Perhaps not law but so widely accepted by the courts it is defacto law.
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Old 02-03-2009, 20:09   #4
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Perhaps not law but so widely accepted by the courts it is defacto law.
No such thing as defacto law. ABYC is a trade sponsored standards group. Try to get a copy of all the medical codes from the AMA (American Medical Association) for free. They charge annually $2000 plus $20 / person. It's not cheap getting a bunch of crusty old farts to agree on anything when someone else is paying.
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Old 02-03-2009, 20:26   #5
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Go here:

ABYC Standards (On-Line)

Gord has supplied us with lots of good info!
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Old 02-03-2009, 20:36   #6
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No such thing as defacto law. AYBC is a trade sponsored standards group. Try to get a copy of all the medical codes from the AMA (American Medical Association) for free. They charge annually $2000 plus $20 / person. It's not cheap getting a bunch of crusty old farts to agree on anything when someone else is paying.
The ABYC standards have been used so often the precedents are set ie. Defacto
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Old 02-03-2009, 20:47   #7
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The ABYC standards have been used so often the precedents are set ie. Defacto
ABYC standards are not THE BIBLE and far from being "de facto law".

If they were then other standards, codes and rules would have no place as they would be overtaken by ABYC and so rendered useless. ISO standards, the various classification society rules, etc all allow approaches that differ from ABYC and they all allow deviations based on first principles design.
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Old 02-03-2009, 20:59   #8
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The ABYC standards have been used so often the precedents are set ie. Defacto
Only the results of the standards can be used as the basis of a legal ruling, but the organization has no legal standing. There is no legal requirement or any implication that not following the standards is criminal or negligent before the fact.

I don't mean to detract from the validity of the standards group. They achieve more in the standards process than the legal process has every done for boating. The same could be said of a SAMS Accredited Marine Surveyor. I have willingly paid for a few but I wouldn't expect them to hold up in a court of law.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:03   #9
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As one who hires myself out as an expert witness, you guys underestimate the power of a thick, blue, official looking manual. Few judges (never seen one) can come close to understanding the intricacies of a battle over very complex technical arguments and are only too happy to latch on to anything official looking. ABYC is frequently accepted as "the standard" in your courts and ours.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:35   #10
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When were the ABYC rules written/published? What was the standard which was used before they propagated their rules?

Are there any other rules sets for say wiring which are followed?
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:45   #11
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ABYC was incorporated in 1954 and created by members of the USCG Merchant Marine Council. There are a number of other standards such NFPA. UL, Code of Federal Regulations, Det Norske Veritas, ABS, Lloyds and a host of others including the CE Directives which are basically a new kid on the block that took ABYC and made everything metric. ABYC is the oldest and most comprehensive in regards to pleasure craft.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:20   #12
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As one who hires myself out as an expert witness, you guys underestimate the power of a thick, blue, official looking manual.
Having worked on testimony in court. It's not the thick manual - it's the "expert witness". The expert is "qualified" and is allowed to enter an opinion as evidence. Without the "expert" there is no admitance of opinion as evidence.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:26   #13
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A little more of my two cents ......

CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS FOR PLEASURE CRAFT

Please remember that I generally survey boats from 30 to 60' and all my comments should be taken in that context.
Little known to many people in the marine business in Canada, there are standards for construction required by law and a number of voluntary standards much like the CSA or UL standards you know from yuour home appliances. The US, Canadian, ABYC and RCD's don't say much of anything about structure. They are largely concerned with the systems within the structure. Lloyds and American Bureau of Shipping and a few other classification societies have made attempts at setting structural standards but these are not useful to people in the field as a testing lab would be required to confirm any of these standards.

MANDATORY STANDARDS

Canada - pleasure craft are covered under the "Canada Shipping Act" or "CSA 2001" as the latest edition is titled. Under the "Act" are a number of standards and regulations which cover pleasure craft. Among others these include TP1332E, Construction Standards For Small Vessels, TP127 Ships Electrical Standards and TP10739B International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 with Canadian Modifications.


United States - pleasure craft are covered under "The United States Code of Federal Regulations, Titile 33 & Title 46" amd "Colregs" This is pretty weak stuff but is reasonably well enforced."

Europe
- pleasure craft are covered under the "Recreational Craft Directives" which is a pretty comprehensive set of standards largely copied from ABYC and converted tometric but they did make it law and they are enforcing it. Good for them !

This entire field of regulation is a moving target and has changed more in the last few years than the previous fifty with many more regulations already being written to be added in the near future.


The above noted Canadian standards are a reasonable baseline although they do have some serious omissions.eg. propane installations and inadequate gasoline ventilation standards. Unfortunately even though they are law they are rarely enforced as we appear to have forgotten that if you do not monitor the builders or importers, they will do what ever is in their best interests. In short we have no one watching the chicken coop. I survey over 200 boats each year and have only ever seen one that met all Transport Canada standards and have seen no more than a handfull that met the requirements of NMMA or ABYC. The US mandatory standards are a weak brew indeed but as we import most of our boats from the US and have no enforcment of our standards we pretty well run with theirs.

VOLUNTARY STANDARDS

Aside from the legal requirements of the Canada Shipping Act there are several voluntary standards like these listed below.

American Boat and Yacht Council - "Standards and Technical Information Reports For Small Craft".
This is the grandaddy of marine standards and covers almost every system in a boat very thoroughly. Transport Canada and USCG are currently working towards harmonizing (copying) their standards with ABYC. In fact TP1332E makes so many references to ABYC that its impossible to survey a boat to Canadian legal requirements if you are not a member of ABYC and purchase their standards. These standards are so commonly used in the courts of our litigious southern neighbours that with a large number of precedents set they appear to have become virtual law. The USCG now builts all their vessels under 60' using these standards rather than US Mil.specs adding further weight to their effect in court.

NFPA 302 - "Fire Protection Standard for Pleasure and Commercial Motorcraft"
This standard largely concerns itself with anything that may cause a fire including fuel tanks, hose, filters engine compartment ventilation, AC electrical systems, DC electrical systems and bonding. It does not cover much that is not covered in ABYC.

Canadian Standards Association - "CSA C22.2 No.183.1-M1982 AC Electrical Installations
A rather curious effort by our homegrown organization who jumped into this many years ago and appear to have abanoned the program, a bit thin and outdated.

There are a slew of other standards including CE (largely copied from ABYC and converted to metric), ISO, IMO ABS etc.

National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and their Canadian cousins CMMA.
The boat manufacturers have their own standards that for many years was nothing more than a marketing tool and many boats labeled "NMMA Certified" failed to meet their own standards. Over the last few years they have started to incorporate ABYC standards and you will now often see a label stating "NMMA Certified, Built Using ABYC Standards". Note the semantic use of "using" not "to" ABYC standards. Once again the label does not mean it was actually done. The builders are getting better but we still need a Ralph Nader type to give the industry a kick.

Try bringing a car into Canada that does not meet Transport Canada Standards ... you will not get past the border. For some reason boats are treated differently and no one seems to be policing the manufacturers or importers. In over 2000 surveys I have never seen a boat that meets the requirements of the Canada Shipping Act.

My opinion .... there are two reasons for this 1. Transport Canada is chronically undermanned, they simply do not have the bodies to keep on top of this. 2. All of the people I have had contact with at Transport Canada come from a shipping background and know little about small vessels and particularly gasoline powered vessels with their critical demands for proper ventilation, ignition protection, placement of inverters, batteries, battery chargers and a host of other requirements not related to the diesel fueled boats they are used to dealing with. It is up to you, the consumer to educate yourself and force the builders to comply. As usual its a case of caveat emptor.

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Old 03-03-2009, 05:48   #14
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No such thing as defacto law. ABYC is a trade sponsored standards group. Try to get a copy of all the medical codes from the AMA (American Medical Association) for free. They charge annually $2000 plus $20 / person. It's not cheap getting a bunch of crusty old farts to agree on anything when someone else is paying.
Paul, the day I feel up to performing an appendectomy on myself, I'll want the AMA codes free too! Seriously though...when your surveyor arrives and finds you have " a fuel line connection too close to an electrical installation by two inches", what do you think will happen if the insurer reads this survey? Doesnt much matter what any of us say about law or not. No fixy, no insuree...
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:51   #15
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How is this scenario.

I (a boat owner) have no technical understanding of the Physics laws relating to electricity, but I THINK I know how to rewire my boat.
I go to a free down-loadable site, I THINK I understand what I am reading, (don't we all) and I rewire and cause a fire and say, an injury.
If I had to buy that copy of the standard, I would have implied a conscious ability to apply it correctly and safely, to the seller of the standard, and given the seller the opportunity to remind me of this requirement.
I realise this is a nebulous opinion, but based on some of the questions and answers we see on this forum and others, it is obvious that some of us don't always know what we are getting into. IMHO
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