Monday, March 28, 2016

Still Here

Yep, we are still here (both on the boat and in Hammock Beach, FL.).  Been busy working on that whole fun-work balance thing has left me with less time to write posts and less subject matter to write about.  We've been making some trips to the beach, doing some shopping, and getting some work done.  Trying to slow the pace down a bit and that left me with mostly mundane tasks this week.  I mean who wants to read about going grocery shopping, clothes shopping, or washing the boat. There have been a couple things of note though, so I will try to catch you up.

Sometimes I really wonder about the previous owners of this boat.  There have certainly been some strange or questionable maintenance and upgrade practices on the boat.  I don't know if it was the owners themselves or poor contractors, but sometimes I just have to shake my head at the things I find.

This story is about a strange noise that resulted in a discovery in the boat wiring (at this point these discoveries shouldn't really surprise me, yet they still do). After a rather wet weather spell, we experienced a strange clicking noise near the electrical panel.  The noise was very intermittent and I wouldn't call it a buzzing but more of a fast paced clicking.  Naturally, as soon as I would go over to investigate the noise, it would stop.

Eventually we were able to chase it down.  It was coming from the GFCI outlet located at the electrical panel.  This GFCI outlet at this location protects the 120 volt circuit for the starboard side of the boat and was found when we noticed a plug on that circuit didn't have power. I think the clicking was the GFCI outlet trying to trip.  The bizarre part of this scenario is that it should only click once as the circuit trips and should not keep clicking. The other strange thing is that the power to the TV and DVD player (also on that circuit) did not lose power when the GFCI tripped.

So, I start investigating.  I disassemble the panel to try and chase down where the TV and VCR are plugged in and this is what I found...

Not the proper way to install an electrical a house or on a boat.
Yes, that is a household remodel electrical box just hanging behind the panel and not attached to anything.  The zip tie is only holding everything up by the electrical wire. The outlet looked like an ordinary household electrical outlet and was showing some signs of corrosion. There was also no cover plate to prevent anything from falling into the electrical box. I know my surveyor opened up and looked inside this panel so I really wonder why he didn't think this was a problem. In any case, a more stable solution with a better outlet is in order.

I purchased an electrical box I could mount, a new outlet that is supposed to be more weather and corrosion resistant, and a cover plate to further protect the connections within the box.  We installed the new box and then used zip ties to better organize the wiring and make sure nothing was swinging freely or likely to cause further problems.

Looks much better now (safer and more stable) doesn't it?  Hopefully that will resolve the issue. At some point I should probably sit down and go through the entire electrical system on this boat and make sure no other issues are hiding behind the walls.

And a bit of humor from our shopping the other day.  Not exactly truth in advertising.

Maybe it should say 1 kink hose.


  1. Hi Mike,
    Interesting prior wiring technique, pretty much goes against everything you learn about dealing with 120 V ac wiring
    At least the previous owner used marine grade wire instead of household NM-B wire, so you don't have to rewire. GF plugs do have a limited lifetime.
    My search for a catamaran continues, and I'm sure I'll find similar issues with the ones I'll look at, so your blog is becoming part of a "what to look for list" I'm making.
    Glad to see you are changing the work to fun ratio in favor of more fun.
    Doug in VT

    1. Hwy Doug,
      Given how nasty a fire can be on a boat and how often the 120v electrical is to blame, this came as a bit of a shock to me (or maybe an explanation). Agreed that at least the right wire was used and I am thankful for that.

      Best advice I can give you is one I should have followed better myself. Look over the boat as if you were doing the survey. Don't be afraid of digging through lockers and pointing a flashlight into every nook and cranny you can. Try everything. If whoever is showing you the boat doesn't want you to try systems on the initial viewing, make sure you get a chance to while the surveyor is there (if you get to that point). Even if you don't know much about boat systems per-se, trust your eyes and gut. I trusted my surveyor more than I should have and have paid the price.

      And then plan to spend another 50% over purchase price to fix things and refit anyway. ;-)

      Yeah, slowing down and having a bit more fun has helped...but still need to work on it. Today's work task isn't a fun one...but hope to do something this afternoon to make up for it.