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Discussion Starter #1
We are upgrading to a helm mounted chart plotter on out Catalina 27. Our switch panel is full with all the various running lights, macerator, water pump, autopilot, instruments, etc. The bilge pump installed last year will have its switch mounted outside of the panel since it wouldn't fit anyway.

Initially consider putting on the same switch as the AP but if the AP blows the fuse would lose both steering help and navigation simultaneously. Now thinking about wiring it directly to battery with inline fuse. Even at anchor we keep our current handheld on for a drag alarm.

Thoughts?

Josh
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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I suggest grouping the running lights, anchor light, steaming light, and foredeck light (if you have one) onto a single breaker "Nav. Lights" at the main panel. Then install a waterproof breaker panel, fed from this breaker, at the helm with individual breakers for each of these light circuits.

I have grouped my chart plotter, VHF, 12VDC outlet, and hardwired laptop to a single breaker labeled "Nav. Station" (where this stuff is mounted) and have a 6 circuit blue seas fuse panel for the individual circuits.
 

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Bilge pump should be wired to the battery if it is automatic.
Plotter draws little current. I would piggy back it onto the AP unless you want to add another panel.
 

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I had the same issue, adding more instruments.

I added one of these, powered up by the instruments breaker.

https://www.bluesea.com/products/5025/ST_Blade_Fuse_Block_-_6_Circuits_with_Negative_Bus_and_Cover

Then individual items - chartplotter, NMEA 2000 network, etc. get their own (small) fuse on this block. This has an advantage, that a fault in one instrument will not take them all out.

Obviously, your old instruments should also get re-wired to this block.

Running devices directly to the battery should be avoided.
 

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I had the same issue, adding more instruments.

I added one of these, powered up by the instruments breaker.

https://www.bluesea.com/products/5025/ST_Blade_Fuse_Block_-_6_Circuits_with_Negative_Bus_and_Cover

Then individual items - chartplotter, NMEA 2000 network, etc. get their own (small) fuse on this block. This has an advantage, that a fault in one instrument will not take them all out.

Obviously, your old instruments should also get re-wired to this block.

Running devices directly to the battery should be avoided.
Is there a reason that everyone uses breakers rather than fuses? I know they are convenient to turn off, and if they blow you can reset them. Otherwise a fuse with a toggle switch seems to be a good option for low draw electronics, just make sure you keep lots of spares. I was always told that turning off breakers as if they were switches was not good for them, as they are not designed to be switched off and on frequently and it would cause carbon to build on the contacts(or some such thing). Lots of restaurants I have worked in do it though.
 

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Get Over It!

All boats have a few less breakers than you need. Just add a wire into any breaker screw hole that still has space. You will remember which is where. When I want the AIS on I have to turn the cabin fans on. When its hot everyone knows where I am.

I do, vaguely, pity the next owner of this boat :eek::laugher:laugher:laugher
 

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Paul=
"Is there a reason that everyone uses breakers rather than fuses?"
Yeah. On boats, like private aircraft, if you have a breaker you don't have to rummage through all the drawers and spares and then say "Honey, I'm taking the dink, I'll be back tomorrow with a new fuse, live in the dark until then."

Fuses can be a RFPITA that way.

As to breakers, there are two main kinds. Thermal breakers, which DO wear out with each trip, and magnetic (magnetohydrodynamic, whatever) breakers, which don't. So after maybe 30 years, you can replace them anyway.
I hate fuses. Coupla years ago, I took all the spare fuses for my car and put them in a "week long" PILL BOX that allowed me to sort most of them out by size (Monday=2.5Amp, Tuesday=5, etc.) but I don't know how many years it took to figure out that was a logical way to get all the plastic boxes (5 fuses per, in whatever assortments?) migrated into one place.

Engineer-
For those of us who foolishly have not memorized the layout of the Cat27 breaker panel, perhaps you could post a pic? Most panels, on most boats, are either modular or expandable. You get a new panel face, but all the breakers are moved over or kept in place, so the expansion isn't as expensive as you might think. And, you get the benefit of one nice neatly organized breaker panel, or panels. Instead of something either crowded or cobbled.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the advice.
Will get out to the boat and snap a few pictures. I like the use of breakers but have older fused switches. Like the idea of combining external nav lights.

Josh
 

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Plotter draws little current. I would piggy back it onto the AP unless you want to add another panel.
That depends on the plotter. Look at the specs. The displays on larger plotters can draw more than the radar.
 

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I added a panel just for the nav lights, all grouped into one panel - see attached pic. Blog post here on it here

On there is

- Running Lights
- Steaming Light
- Anchor Light
- Red over Green (mislabeled as tricolour while I wait for custom label)
- Spreader Lights
- Spare
 

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