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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 07-12-2006
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Boat Electrical and Shorepower Questions

I hope this is the right place to ask my questions, but please tow the thread to wherever its deemed appropriate.

I am in the process of looking for a CAL 20' sailboat and would like some information on how shorepower connects to these boats.

If I wanted to hook up typical AC devices on the boat (Laptop, stereo system, etc) when I'm hooked up to the dock, what would be the best way to go about this? I'm fairly compentent when it comes to electronics, I just never did anything like this before. I would also like to add in some batteries and convert the shower power to DC so I can power my devices like radios, lights, and devices while I'm off the dock.

I guess what I'm asking is if there is a shorepower connector to these boats, or perhaps somebody knows a great guide that I can read through to learn more about this.

Thanks alot, I have been a lurker here for a long time, and with the purchase of my first sailboat coming shortly, I'm sure I will be back with tons of questions. Hopefully one day I will graduate from the "noob" status and be able to return the favor to people.

Jonathan
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Old 07-12-2006
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Pick up a copy of Nigel Calders "Boatowners Electrical and Mechanical Manual". It's pretty much the standard on the subject matter.
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Old 07-12-2006
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Don't know much about CAL 20's, but on my 28foot yacht I simply run an Industrial quality AC extension lead from the dock, through the cabin hatch to a normal power board fitted with an earth leakage switch for safety. No mods to the boat necessary. The whole lot stows away before departure.

For the DC supply, unless you already have a 12/24v system on the boat you acquire, you're gonna be up for some expense I think.

On a boat your size, I'm not sure of any value for a capability for conversion of AC to the boat's DC system, or vice-versa.

Hope this helps.

Take Care
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Thanks alot, I already ordered the book and am looking forward to getting it.

As far as the shorepower connection...is it just a standard AC cord? So I could bring that into my cabin and hook it up to some sort of power protection/regulation thing and be good to go? Sounds too easy...
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A couple of good on-line references:

“Boater’s guide to AC electrical systems” from Marinco
http://www.marinco.com/corp/how_to_guides.html

ABYC Excerpts - Section E-11 “AC and DC ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS ON BOATS”
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai..._ID=294&id=335
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Old 07-12-2006
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You can buy a convertor plug that will allow you to plug an extension cord into the shore power plug at the dock. You can pick one up at a marine store. Here is another good book on electronics:
Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey.
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Old 07-12-2006
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The A/C cord on a shorepower system is a 30 AMP or 50 AMP twist lock cord, and has much heavier insulation and weatherproof connectors.

If you're going to want to install a full shore power system with an inverter/charger, you're looking at some serious weight on-board, as you generally need a pretty hefty battery bank to use an inverter.

You will also want to use marine GFCI outlets for the A/C outlets on the boat...to help prevent anyone from electrocuted.

Have you taken a look at the electrical load of the things you want to use on your boat? How many watts do they draw in use, and how many hours are you planning on using them. Also, have you done this for the boat's DC side—electronics, lights, instruments, etc.

Generally, your battery bank should be 2-4 times the total average electrical load that it will be used for between recharging. Also, how will you plan to recharge the batteries?

A couple of other caveats—I wouldn't recommend using a non-marinized stereo on a boat as small as a Cal 20, as the smaller boats tend to be fairly wet, and the salt water/salt air will quickly attack and corrode a standard home stereo system. Also, a standard home stereo doesn't really tolerate being thrown from side to side, as will happen on a small monohull sailboat, and will need to be anchored down some how. It also may take up more space than a similar-capability marine stereo system.

I hope this helps a bit. You really need to do a serious amount of planning, otherwise you'll end up throwing your money away when doing a project like this.
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Old 07-12-2006
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If you're in the US, pickup a West Marine master catalog. Odds are that they've got diagrams in it showing you how to do the wiring, they've got a lot of technical information in the catalog. Probably somewhere in their web site as well.
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www.bluesea.com also has some good information on-line.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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