Sunday, 1 May 2011

Making the Connection

Since the mast was wired OK and the anchor light worked, I could strike them from my to-do list, but to be truthful, I was no further ahead. I rummaged through my bag of odds and ends and found a 4-wire deck connector with both male and female ends.

Connecting the wires took all of 5 minutes. That part was easy, but I still only had 3 wires coming out of the deck. More rummaging came up with a spool of wire. I grabbed a drill and attacked again. The wires for the mast lights go through the deck in a hole right next to the mast. The hole is positioned exactly over the starboard bulkhead in the salon below decks. The first hole I drilled went into the bulkhead, and will never be of any use for anything. I tried again, this time angling the drill forward and aiming for the front edge of the cavity the rest of the wires were embedded in.

Success! The drill found the forward side of the bulkhead right at the ceiling. I snaked the wire into the hole and it barely fit. perfect size. Everything was looking rosy. Down inside the boat I fed the wire through the same hole the rest of the wires for the forward circuits on the boat used to get back into the salon. From there the wire was led aft along the hull, and then back into the dumpster under the cockpit.

All I had to do now was to connect the wire to the waiting breaker in the panel. I emptied the dumpster (fenders, docklines, more fenders, lifejackets, more fenders, more docklines, good god how did all this end up down here!!) and then in a move that is hard to describe I made my way down into the tiny space.

The forward bulkhead that separates this stowage space from the galley in the boat is the mounting surface for most of Iris' electronica. From the back of the wall a "snake's honeymoon" of wires tangle around each other competing for the pins on the back of 2 circuit panels (110 V AC and 12 V DC) the shore power connection and the shore power battery charger.

I folded myself in half and stared at the mess of wires. Had there been room to raise my arm I might have scratched my head. I started to think of all the stuff these wires were feeding. When Catalina built Iris there had been one circuit for the cabin, one for the running lights, one for the steaming light, one for the masthead light, one for the deck lights, and a final circuit marked "Accessories" for any add-ons.

We bought Iris because she was well equipped. I figured that in addition to the original equipment we had GPS, a fish finder, a depth sounder and gauges for speed, wind, and wind direction. We had an electric start for the outboard and a cockpit 12 volt plug. In addition to the original 6 circuits from Catalina we had added another 9 accessories between the previous owners and myself.

Looking back at the 12 volt panel, many of the switches had more than 2 branch circuits running off them. One switch had 5 connectors stuffed into a single crimp.There was only one switch on the panel that was empty. I extracted myself from the dumpster and went to the galley to check what it was labelled. It said "Steaming." Perfect! Just the thing I needed. I climbed back into the dumpster, went to hook up my new wire and realized that the fuse holder on the circuit was utterly destroyed.

Looks like its time to rewire the panel, and re-evaluate the 12 volt electric system.

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