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Author Topic:   Small Boat Electrical Wiring
Yiddil posted 08-18-2007 01:18 AM ET (US)   Profile for Yiddil   Send Email to Yiddil  
Getting ready to wire up my 1964 Boston Whaler SPORT 13 for navigation lighting and electronics like a GPS and SONAR. The boat has a bow [combined sidelight lamp] and stern [all-around white] lamp that is original to this SPORT model. There are wires with funny dual plug-like ends that I am sure are original at the bow, and one at the steering set up, and wires to the bow lamp are there. They were put there it seems when the boat was built. I have purchased [two conductor or duplex cable] for running under the new rub rail, and I obviously will need to hook them up with a drill hole to the spot where they connect to the lights. But I need more info on how all this connects to the side console, and how the SONAR and all connects to a new battery I will purchase shortly. I'm a real novice and know nothing about wiring, so be gentle, explain what needs to be done, and I will give it a whirl. Thanks in advance for all helpful hints. Henry AKA THE YIDDIL
Tom Hemphill posted 08-18-2007 07:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom Hemphill    
I'm preparing to do a similar project on my 1966 13-foot Whaler. In the past I've improvised using regular hardware store materials; this time I'll be using proper marine-grade components. My bow light has a wire under the rubrail, exiting the interior of the gunwhale near the console. Except for the original bow light wire next to it, I find no further evidence of original wiring.

I plan on running 14-gauge 2-conductor (14/2) wire from the battery to a Blue Seas Systems fuse block mounted under the console. I'll install an inline fuse (15-amp) on the positive conductor of that wire at the battery end. Connections will be made with appropriately-sized crimp-on ring terminals. I'll run new wire from the stern light to the console and extend the existing short end of the bow wire. A Cole-Hersee M476 three-position push-pull switch mounted in the console will control the lights. This switch has three positions for off, one circuit and both circuits. Power to these two curcuits will be supplied by independent poles on the fuse block (using 1 and 2-amp fuses), with negative wires utilizing its common negative bus.

There are other, simpler and cheaper ways to accomplish this, but I think my plan will make it convenient to add other switched circuits controled from the helm as the need arises.

kamie posted 08-19-2007 08:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
You can wire both lights and sounder to the battery using an inline fuse or you can wire both sounder and lights to a fuse block. You will also need to wire in a switch to control the lights. Your welcome to come over and take a look under the console at how I did Evenstar. I prefer the fuse block, that way you only have one set of wires running from the battery and on a 13 I would just use an inline fuse from the battery to the fuse block. No need to get fancy with curcit breakers and such. Now the real question, how do you plan to charge that battery? From the engine or you putting it on a charger?
jimh posted 08-20-2007 04:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I would make it very simple. Connect the SONAR directly to the battery. The device should have an in-line fuse in the positive lead.

Wire the navigation lamps in parallel and control them with a single ON-OFF switch. Put the switch and a fuse in the positive lead.

That's how Whaler did it. On a small, open boat like a 13-foot Whaler skiff, there is no need to make a fancy installation.

kamie posted 08-20-2007 06:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
I agree with simple but using a fuse block, allows for fewer wires running from the battery to the console and allows for adding items, maybe a vhf without running new wires. To me, even on an 13 foot boat it makes for a cleaner install
Yiddil posted 08-21-2007 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Thanks people:) About the charging of the battery....I have a 81 seahorse engine, what are my choices?...I would think the engine running would charge the battery...?but i guess you have to rig it to do that?
kamie posted 08-21-2007 02:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
You can, helps to have a book for the engine or your mechanic around to know where to hook it up. Would hate to wire the thing and hook the battery to the engine backwards and blow the engine.
Yiddil posted 08-22-2007 01:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     

I have the book for the engine...pretty thick manual on all models froma certain year to a certain year....I'll read into it, and see who's around who knows more than me about that sort of thing...but I like the direct approuch Jim mentioned and that WHaler did originally to the 13,hooking things up to the battery directly makes a lot of common sense...I use a portable ICOM 15 for the 13 as I don't usually head out to far, so thats not an issue....just two lights, and a Sounder/mapper, a switch for the lights on the console for the lights and a direct connection to the sounder/mapper with an in line fuse ...thats should not be to bad to do...

Jim, is there a diagram you have here or could send me (or anyone else)so I can see how this is going to look...what do you mean by "Wire the navigation lamps in parallel and control them with a single ON-OFF switch"? Parallel?

Thanks guys for all your help again:) Henry

Moe posted 08-22-2007 06:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
I put a Blue Sea fuse block with negative bus bar under the console of our 150 Sport, but it was overkill. The Whaler factory nav light wiring, as well as most of the accessories, had an in-line fuse anyway, except the electric horn and I could've put one in that wire. Instead, I could've just added separate terminal strips for positive and negative.

If you fish or otherwise anchor at night, you'll need to run the all-around white stern navigation light by itself as an anchor light. For that, you'll need a 3-position switch, with Off-Anchor (stern light only)-Nav (both stern light and bow light. I wired the light in our compass to the nav light output on the switch so it wouldn't be on at anchor.


kamie posted 08-22-2007 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
lets just look at the sonar. If you want to wire direct to the battery you need the following, 16/2 wire, inline fuse, ring connectors for the battery and connector / plug for the sonar end (more on this later). I assume that the sonar had it's own on/off switch.
1. spool off a length of 16/2 wire, enough to run from the battery all the way to the console where you will mount the sonar.
2. At the battery end of the wire, strip and attach the ring connector for the black or negative terminal.
3. At the battery end of the wire, strip and attach the inline fuse holder and then the ring connector for the positive battery terminal.
*Note, do not connect to the battery yet
4. Now move to the console end and route the wires under the console, cutting holes as necessary to accommodate the sonar wires.
5. My preference is to get a 2 connector trailer plug or two pin connector (this is exactly the plug you have on your stern light) and attach one end to the 16/2 wire and on end to the sonar power if possible. This may not be possible if the sonar power cord is 14(really thin stuff) gauge wire, if that is your case see 5a otherwise strip and attach, keeping red/black wires the same on both sides of the plug.
5a. if you can't use the trailer plug because the wires are just too small to fit, then I use snap plugs or quick connect connectors, that way you can plug and unplug when you want it off the boat. You can get 14 gauge for the sonar side and 16 gauge for the wire side and they won't know the difference.
6. now hook the battery side up, red positive / black negative and if you didn't plug in the sonar side you should. if you have the transducer hookedup unhook it if your not in the water before you power on the system. Turn on the power and the unit should turn on and probably go into simulation mode. If it doesn't work, check all connections and the fuse.
7. Install transducer, follow instructions for getting it set correctly and your off.

The only difference for the lights is to add a switch into the hot wire side. You need to run a hot lead from the battery to the hot terminal on the switch, using an inline fuse again. Now run the two nav lights positive to one of the other terminals on the switch. For the stern light, you will need a plug as described above, the hot side should be run all the way to the console, the negative side to a ring terminal attached to the negative post on the battery. For the nav lights you will need to wire the negative side all the way back to the battery, again to ring terminals attached to the battery. Now, once you hook all the connections up you should be able to pull the switch and have the lights come on. for a 3 position switch, you want the stern light to come on first, then the nav lights. That way you can have the stern light on without the nav lights, if you want to do late night fishing.

The reason I prefer the fuse block in the console is simply running less wires between console and the battery and fewer ring terminals hooked directly to the battery and fewer connections in a really wet environment. If you use the fuse block with negative buss, you run two lengths of 16/2 (possibly heavier depending on distance from battery to console) wire from the console and the stern of the boat and you have one set of ring terminals hooked to the battery with an inline fuse at the battery end, that's it. All other connects are under the console to the fuse block. There is one wire run to power the fuse block, and a run of 16/2 wire ending in a plug to power the light.

good luck

Yiddil posted 08-23-2007 11:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Kamie, thanks for that awsome discription of the work in hand...I was going to play with it this weekend but decided not to do it in 97 degree heat! Although I might change my mind as Im a crazy fool:) Acctually I may just soak in the Bay all weekend If I can finish all my other little projects scattered all over the place including a couple of cleats (10 inch) I want to install so guests w/ boats can use them rather than poles:)Setting up a slip behind the benches Kamie)

But your discription sounds like I will need a few more parts now that i know what to use . Moe tanks tom, you too;)Also, need to find the right battery for the job as well:)

This is a pic of the 13..


Yiddil posted 08-23-2007 11:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
let me try this again..

Yiddil posted 08-23-2007 11:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Okay, now that i got area few more...

She now has side rails:) Not i pic:)

kamie posted 08-25-2007 08:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
For both the switch and the fuse block, I use ring terminals. More of a pain to put on but once there they stay.

Good luck

home Aside posted 08-25-2007 10:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Not to get off subject, but what a Sweet Little Rig!


Yiddil posted 08-26-2007 01:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Thanks Kamie. Pat thanks...she is a really nice all origi. I gave her number to Chuck Bennett at whaler and he looked her up and emailed me her pedigrey!Delivered to Mass Dealer in 64..etc etc etc...Nice info to have on her.

Except for wiring, she runs just fine, need not much although Im thinking of how to re-do her steering wheel...rubber coated it seems...but the wiring was something I will do for sure as soon as it cools off...

Supposed to be 99 today in Northern Neck of Va. so I stayed indoors in sense in hurting myself out there....that heat can be damaging to a guy whos on the mend like me....

I found her sitting in a drive way witha for sale sign on her by the son of the original owner...and grabed her, replaced the 64 trailer that was a dealth trap, and never looked back...last year, added the rails this year:)

Having the Nantucket, I use her in the small water around my place. Shes a fine boat and even has brass oar holders, and have rowed her with not much difficulty...sometimes i think about bottom painting her...but havn't as of yet.

Main issue right now will be to get her wired up correctly, add a sounder, connect the lights and see how that works for a while.....

Tom Hemphill posted 07-05-2008 12:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom Hemphill    
As a follow-up to my post above, I completed the wiring project on my boat pretty much as described. A photo is at . Yes, it's way overkill, but it makes me happy. The wires from the switches in the console are attached to a terminal strip, to simplify removing the console for maintenance. I tried to adhere to best practices, including labeling all wires.
jimh posted 07-06-2008 10:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Tom--That is a classy installation. It continues the tradition that a classic Boston Whaler is really a small yacht.

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