Wiring the electrics on our boat

It had been a job on our to do list for a while, but at last there was no more excuses, so it was time to bite the bullet and rewire our electrical panel.

We were in Carrickfergus and the storms had returned at one point we had 59.1 knots of wind on our chart plotter downstairs and the wind was still rising so we reckon that, that is the highest speed our wind instrument records. With such high winds the pontoon gets a bit bouncy, so going to the shops can be a bit of fun, but we are near one of the main pontoons, so we are happy enough in our slip.

While the weather was bad outside the boat, we cooked Carrick Casserole inside for our sister channel Cooks Tour. So while that was getting on with it I started the task of sorting out the rats nest known as our wiring that was under our chart table. We had wires everywhere, as we had added lights into the bathroom, under the cabinets in the boat, as well as all the extra electrical components, we had added as well. So for this particular task we actually started with creating the plan of the Bavaria 36 switch panel below, because having the plan would mean that we knew what all the switches were for and where they were going in the boat. Next it was a case of making sure that all the wires were labelled and we actually knew what all the wires were under the chart table where we were working.

Next came the creation of a door for the space under the chart table, by having the door, we could mount a variety of bus bars on the door, so that all our new wires would be in an accessible space. We left enough room on the door for another bus bar, because you always need to make sure you have room for spares. It took ages to do and you just need to be methodical. Especially in the testing phase, in our case we had a problem with a faulty earth, but we tracked it down to the accessories earth being connected to the earth of the diodes, which was a different earth to the one we were using. This caused a current to flow through the diodes, which made them light up. So all I did was move the earth of the new accessory socket from the bus bar to the same earth as the other accessory socket and we were done.

Bavaria 36 Switch Panel

Bavaria 36 Switch Panel
  1. Anchor Light - 5A
  2. Steaming Light - 5A
  3. Fore and Aft Lights - 7A
  4. Deck Light - 7A
  5. Fore Cabin Lights - 20A
  6. Main Cabin Lights - 20A
  7. Instrument Lights - 5A
  8. Navigation - 15A
  9. Radio - 10A
  10. Windlass - 5A
  1. Bilge Pump - 15A
  2. Fresh water Pump - 15A
  3. Shower Pump - 20A
  4. Piston Pump - 15A
  5. Heater - 5A
  6. Fridge - 20A
  7. Accessories Socket - 15A
  8. Spare - 10A
  9. Spare - 7A
  10. Spare - 15A

The above represents the original switch panel meanings for a Bavaria 36 from 2002. The two main things to note are:-

  • The size of the fuses for the cabin lights, are over ratted at 20A, but that is because led lights are a lot more efficient than halogens.
  • While the fuse for the windlass must be for a relay switch as 5A is far too small.

We repurposed some switches so that our switches are now used as follows:-

  1. Anchor and Tri-Radial Light - 5A
  2. Steaming Light - 5A
  3. Fore and Aft Lights - 7A
  4. Deck Light - 7A
  5. Mood and Fore Cabin Lights - 20A
  6. Main Cabin Lights - 20A
  7. Instrument Lights - 5A
  8. Navigation - 15A
  9. AIS - 10A
  10. Anchor Alarm - 5A
  1. Bilge Pump - 15A
  2. Fresh water Pump - 15A
  3. Shower Pump - 20A
  4. Auto Pilot - 15A
  5. Unused Heater- 5A
  6. Fridge - 20A
  7. Accessories Sockets - 15A
  8. Unused Spare - 10A
  9. Cockpit Lighting - 7A
  10. Entertainment - 15A

Items to note are:-

  • 1 - The Anchor switch now goes to a three way polarity reverser switch which allows the anchor light and tri-radial to share the same circuit. Please note: to use this type of switch then you must make sure that you do not use a common that is used for any other component on the boat.
  • 5 - We added the Mood lighting to the fore cabin lights, so now we have strip lights under various cabinets and this gives Salty Lass a warm welcoming feel.
  • 9 - It is wise to have your AIS on a separate circuit because as you come in and out of marinas, you will be in a restricted area, with lots of AIS targets within collision range and this can lead to alarms going off when you really need to concentrate.
  • 10 - We use our old Garmin chart plotter as our anchor alarm, as it is in the main cabin area with us. Now that the old chart plotter is on the network we can now pick up additional information such as depth as well so that we can also add a minimum depth alarm.
  • 14 - As the cabling for the piston pump was already wired into the toilet cabinet, then it was very easy to extend this cable for the auto pilot
  • 17 - We wired up another accessories socket so that if you were using the chart table to do PC work, then the DC-DC convertor would be in a more sensible location, plus our hand held can be charged easily, with no stretched wire from the other accessories socket
  • 19 - Cockpit lighting, this includes the light for the engine which is a really useful light
  • 20 - Entertainment. this is for our CD/radio and TV.
  • 15 and 18 - This will still leave two switches unused. One of the reasons that we have not wired our heater into the switch panel is that it needs to power down in the correct sequence and just turning it off will cause it damage.

Distribution panel

Distribution panel

By adding a distribution panel under the chart table, we created a way of having all the extra wires that we needed in an accessible space. So the bars are used for

  • Earth bar - Various negative terminals for the mood and utility lighting as well as the negative for the auto-pilot and our AIS unit
  • Single wires - There are for things like the TV, the AIS and our Garmin chart plotter
  • Mood lights - So we have put in lights under the cabinets all around Salty Lass, it really gives her a warm welcoming feel
  • Utility lights - There are for things like the engine light, the cockpit lighting and a light in the electrical cabinet.
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Raising money for the RNLI

We were only on our third sail in our brand new boat to us and we had to call the coast guard for assistance. That assistance came in the shape of a RNLI boat from Portpatrick, so we have decided to raise money for the RNLI through our Damsels in distress page on just giving, that way you know that any money goes straight to them. We have set ourselves a target of £500 and we would like to honour our pledge, so if you like our videos then please give a little to those who rescue people in the seas around the UK.

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