On a boat, electrical failure isn’t too far off from a heart attack – and many boats are always one jiggling wire away from this ailment. That’s because boats aren’t like houses or cars, which sit in one place or coast down smooth asphalt. Boats roll, pitch, slam, and bang. The vibrations they’re subjected to are harsh, to say the least, and if your boat’s wiring isn’t in tip-top shape, you never know when that next wave is going to cause a complete melt-down.
So, how do you make sure this issue doesn’t ruin a day (or week or month) of fishing? Look for these five common wiring issues, and if any afflict your boat, cure them before a trip to the boat hospital becomes necessary.
1. Jiggling wires – this is the worst, and most common problem. All wires should be loomed and supported every six inches, to prevent the movement that eventually causes damage.
2. Corroded connections – all connections should be made with butt or spade connectors, and covered by heat-shrink protectors. If any on your boat aren’t, fix them fast.
3. Failing fuses – those in boats are regularly subjected to corrosion, which can cause failing connections and ill-fitting fuses. Before a problem ever arises, boat fuses should be pulled and cleaned (the panel needs a good cleaning, too), every other season.
4. Wet wires – this usually means bilge pump wires, down beneath the deck. That’s where you’re most likely to find wires that take a constant bath, because they aren’t properly supported. Give them a lift, and secure them so they don’t endure never-ending water-torture.
5. Overtaxed electricals – often we boaters add this and that (chartplotters, fishfinders, spotlights, etc.) through time. After lots of additional accessories make their way onto your boat, you could be pulling more juice than the original wiring intended.