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Understanding Boat Electrical Systems

Wooden Boat Festival – All Day Seminars

Understanding Boat Electrical Systems by Nigel Calder

September 6, 2018, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Location: Pope Building

Tuition: $125

Register here.

Understanding Boat Electrical Systems

The Understanding Boat Electrical Systems course starts with a brief explanation of core electrical terms followed by key design criteria for both DC and AC systems. Unfortunately, a failure to abide by the basics is responsible for many problems on boats. For AC circuits, not following the basics can result in corrosion of underwater metals and a hazard to those onboard or swimming in the surrounding water. We will review how to keep your batteries in a healthy state and will reference some of the new technologies that are likely to transform the performance of your electrical systems in coming years. Nigel will review the current state of solar and wind power, LED lighting and new DC-to-AC inverters. The class will discuss how to size and install electric circuits that comply with boatbuilding and safety standards, including the very important, and often neglected, provisions for adequate over-current protection. The class will cover core troubleshooting techniques, especially with a multi-meter, that can be safely conducted by any boat owner. The course will specifically investigate starting circuits (the most common cause of an engine’s failure to start), charging circuits (the primary cause of battery failures), and general boat circuits. Included will be a look at the popular NMEA 2000 electronics network, with core troubleshooting techniques.

Contemporary boats are loaded with more and more electrical gear. Electrical systems are the number one cause of problems on boats that have anything more than a rudimentary electrical system.

This class will also cover:

  • Designing DC electrical systems to avoid problems
  • Proper installation practices
  • Simple troubleshooting procedures

This seminar is designed for the inexperienced and requires no prior knowledge. It will help you understand your electrical systems and to correct many common problems. Attendees will come away with the ability to do basic wiring and electrical installations, and simple troubleshooting techniques that will enable the majority of electrical problems to be rapidly identified. The over-arching goal is to raise the confidence levels of boat owners with today’s increasingly electrically-loaded and complicated boats. The seminar will build your confidence when working on your electrical systems.

According to Nigel, he doesn’t have electrical problems on his boats. If you follow his advice, he claims you will not have them on your boat.

Register here.

>>Looking for more boating seminars? Check out our fall classes at Cruisers College. <<

About Nigel Calder

Nigel Calder got into motorcycles and sailing dinghies as a teenager, and has never been far from mechanical things and boats ever since. In a varied career, before becoming a full-time sailing writer he worked on an automotive assembly line, in a foundry and machine shop, and on offshore oil production platforms. He and his wife, Terrie, built a couple of 70-foot canal boats (on which they lived aboard in Oxford), and a 39-foot Ingrid cutter. They then sailed a Pacific Seacraft 40 for 5 years, following which they had a Malo 45 built in Sweden. This was replaced by the same boat but with custom experimental electrical and propulsion systems. It was used by the European Union HYbrid MARine (HYMAR) project, of which Nigel was the Technical Director, for extensive testing of hybrid propulsion systems. Nigel is a member of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Electrical Project Technical Committee. Nigel and Terrie have sailed in the North Sea, Scotland and points further north, the US east coast and Bahamas, and extensively in the Caribbean, with Pippin (now aged 28) and Paul (27) augmenting the crew along the way. Nigel is best known for his book Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, and his book Marine Diesel Engines, both in their third editions, and both considered the definitive works in their field and a must-have on every cruising vessel. In addition to over 200 magazine articles, he has also authored a ‘Cruising Guide to the Northwest Caribbean’, ‘Cuba: A Cruising Guide’, ‘Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook’, and ‘How to Read a Nautical Chart.’

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