Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey
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Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey

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The Author of Sailboat Electrics Simplified Book

Don Casey is the editor of Sailboat Electrics Simplified PDF Book.

Main Contents of Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey










Introduction to Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey

I admire those hard cases who, before setting off around the globe, lever the engine out of the bilge and tilt it over the rail, deep-sixing a whole passel of woes. The time not spent doing maintenance can effectively add weeks to a cruise.

Maybe the engineless do miss a few destinations with difficult approaches, but they also avoid languishing in some overdeveloped and under-flushed harbor awaiting the arrival of transmission parts. They never spill fuel, smudge the transom with soot, or besmirch profound silence with the clatter of reciprocating iron.

Discarding the engine also rules out mechanical refrigeration, you won’t find a watermaker aboard, and the absence of an engine-driven alternator necessarily simplifies the boat’s electrical system (Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey).

I am personally OK with ice for uncomplicated refrigeration, and to me catching water actually seems preferable to “making” it, but when I contemplate kerosene lighting, the simplicity of “pure” sail loses all appeal.

Kerosene illumination bright enough to read by will add at least 20 degrees to the cabin temperature. That may be nice when it is 40°F outside, but when it’s 85°F—well, you do the math. On my boat I want bright and cool electric lights.

While that doesn’t necessarily require an alternator powered by a 500-pound diesel engine—a couple of solar panels can provide enough electricity for cabin lights—I also want fans. And a radio transmitter. And a good sound system.

When the anchorages get deep, I could use the help of an electric windlass. And speaking of hauling, resupplying the cooler with ice gets to be a drag quicker than I like to admit (Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey).

This, of course, is how electrical systems on boats evolve. Production sailboats come with a few lights, a freshwater pump, and the expectation that the purchaser will add a depth sounder and a VHF radio. The alternator, the battery, even the wiring are designed for these modest demands.

The owner, however, is rarely of a mind with the manufacturer. Maybe it starts with adding a reading light over a bunk. While a new lamp for home comes with a plug we simply insert into any unoccupied wall outlet, a lamp for the boat brings only a few inches of wire lead.

Now what? Far too often the answer is a length of lamp cord twisted to the bare leads on one end and wrapped on the other around the terminal screws of the nearest cabin light. What is wrong with that? Just about everything.

Adding appliances to your boat’s existing electrical system is neither difficult nor complicated, but it is exacting if the modification is to be safe and trouble free. Sometimes sailors use the wrong wire because it is handy, but more often they simply don’t know any better.

If you’re connecting a lamp, what can be wrong with using lamp cord? And if it is adequate for a 100-watt table lamp, how can it be inadequate for a 10-watt reading lamp? Fair questions, both, and their answers are provided in Chapter 4.

Most of us find electricity as incomprehensible as the tax code. Who really understands the basis for subtracting line 8 from line 5, then multiplying by 0.25 to get line 9, “but do not enter more than line 6”? So we pay someone to do our taxes.

Or we buy Turbo Tax to tell us—without the bureaucratic doublespeak—exactly what to write on each line of the tax form and not trouble us with the why unless we ask. The underlying concept for this Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey book is much the same—Turbo Wiring, if you will.

The objective of this Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey book is to show you exactly how to service and modify the electrical system on your boat. Assuming that the less theory I throw at you, the happier you’re going to be, I have included electrical arcana only where it is absolutely essential.

But here’s the deal: if I try to keep this dead simple for the masses, the eggheads in the bunch can’t take me to task for taking liberties. I’m not teaching electricity here. I’m just trying to show you how to make a safe, durable connection.

OK, that isn’t quite all there is to it. The connection I am really trying to help you make is the one between you and the electrical system aboard your boat—figuratively speaking, of course.

For example, if you understand amp-hours the way you understand gallons, determining how long your batteries will run all the boat’s electrical equipment is as easy as calculating how far you can expect to motor on a tank of fuel.

So when I describe amps in the following pages, it is for practical use, not scientific—something like introducing European tourists to mph (Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey).

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It isn’t necessary to know that a mile is 1,609 meters when speedometers, maps, and road signs are all in mph. Likewise, you can read amps directly from a meter and make the necessary correlations without any understanding of the underlying science.

You will find practical information here about batteries—gel cells versus the flooded variety, cranking batteries versus deep cycle. You will learn how to select the “right” wire and how to make “good” connections.

You will learn to calculate how quickly your electrical equipment will deplete your batteries, and how to counteract that drain with both traditional and alternative power sources.

Besides a handful of electrical terms, I will expose you to a few symbols that let you “map” your boat’s electrical system, Besides a handful of electrical terms,

I will expose you to a few symbols that let you “map” your boat’s electrical system, taking a lot of guesswork out of troubleshooting. You will see how to isolate problems quickly using a multimeter—where to connect the test probes and exactly what specific readings mean.

(An adequate digital multimeter today costs less than this Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey book and every boatowner should have one!)

You will find enough information about marine electronics to let you install new gear, enough about alternating current to avoid or correct the most common shore-power problems, and enough about lightning to let you maximize your level of protection from this unpredictable menace.

So put aside your preconceptions and turn the page. I promise explanations and instructions as uncomplicated as I can make them (Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey).

There is nothing here that should put you at risk. To the contrary, understanding the wiring on your boat should only make you safer. The only shock you are likely to experience is how easy this stuff really is (Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey).

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