Unless you use muscle power, there is no way you will move your boat if you don’t have electric power. And for you to use muscle power, you should be having a small fishing boat, and your paddles should easily reach the water.
The boat’s electrical system serves plenty of roles: it powers the engine, onboard equipment and electronics, gauges, and cabin. It also allows you to plug into shore power when you dock at the marina.
For peace of mind and to ensure that your boat is always in top working condition, you need to keep a close eye on your boat’s electrical system.
How do you do this? Here is how to go about it:
Unlike the wiring system in your home, the boat’s wiring system is subjected to all corrosive elements such as dampness, vibrations, changing temperatures, saltwater, and many others.
For peace of mind that your system is in good working condition, regularly check for visible wiring problems such as:
Chafing: Chafing is caused by the vibration of wires that aren’t properly secured. These wires rub against the different parts of the boat. Chafing will also come about when suitable grommets and conduits don’t properly protect the wires, then they come into contact with sharp objects.
If your wires aren’t protected, protect them with, at the very least, electrical tape. If the wires in your boat are exposed, replace them with new-grade wires before heading to your next expedition.
While at it, fit the right grommets, conduit, and padding.
Melted wires: It’s normal for wires to overheat when there is a short, and when this happens, you should be worried as it can lead to a severe boat fire, and you don’t want this.
During the inspection, look for signs of melted wiring insulation caused by either overloaded wires getting too hot or coming into contact with a hot engine.
If the wires are overheating, take time to find the cause. In some cases, this might involve replacing the wires with a thicker wire that will suit the power being drawn by your boat equipment. You may also have to provide additional protection by installing the right fuses.
If you are in doubt about how to go about it, involve the services of a professional.
You also should regularly undertake regular thermal readings throughout your vessel. Doing this can identify any unexpected heat from the wiring buried in your walls.
It’s normal to feel that there is something wrong with your system, but cannot pinpoint the exact location of the problem. If this is your current situation, consider involving a professional electrician to help with the troubleshooting.
Check the batteries
Boat batteries come in all colors and shapes. There are some that are only meant to start the engine, while a separate battery powers the house loads and trolling motor.
Other batteries are dual-purpose, providing deep cycling and cranking power.
If you have a dual-purpose battery, you should know that it’s most likely an absorbed glass mat battery with lead plates, that have been separated with absorbent fiberglass mats.
For your battery to be reliable and always start and undertake deep cycling every time you want it to, you need to take good care of it.
Proper boat battery care involves:
Inspection: Examine the battery’s exterior for signs of damage or extraordinary wear. Also, check the cables for rust, fraying, and corrosion. Are the connections deteriorated and unsecured? Fix them.
If your battery is a conventional flooded lead battery, check the electrolyte and ensure it’s between the minimum and maximum levels.
You should replace any damaged cables and clamps, but if the terminals or the case are damaged, consider replacing the entire battery.
Cleaning: Acid, dirt, corrosion, and other contaminants will accumulate on the battery terminals and can lead to current leaks. For your battery to function optimally, clean away deposits on the terminals using a battery terminal brush, then neutralize any acid that might have accumulated there using diluted ammonia.
If there is any grime on the terminals, clean it using water. Remember to rinse and dry the battery before you reconnect it.
Properly winterize the boat electronics.
When the cold weather kicks in, you won’t be outside fishing, so you will need to park your boat until the warm weather returns.
You don’t want to have a malfunctioning boat when the weather is right for fishing, do you? To keep your boat in top shape, properly prepare it for winter.
Are you wondering how to do it? Here is how:
Clean and cover the electronics: You need to have the electronics clean and in a pristine shape before you store the boat. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to do the cleaning and the best products to use.
Of course, you should never use ammonia-based glass cleaners, harsh soap, bleach, or even citrus cleaners, as they will break down the coating on the screens of your electronics. It’s also common for the harsh cleaners to turn the screens yellow, and you don’t want this, do you?
The best cleaner is a 50-50 mix of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol or vinegar. Clean the electronics using a microfiber cloth or mitt. Don’t use paper towels to clean them, as they are abrasive and often impregnated with chemicals known to leave streaks.
During the cleaning, clean the fish finder and depth transducers, and even check their alignment and mounting to ensure they are in top shape.
Remove the electronics if possible: If you can remove your boat electrical equipment, do it and store the different units at home. When you take the electronics home, you store them at less extreme temperatures than if you left them in the boat.
Taking the electronics to your home also protects them from theft, damage, and other risks common in third-party warehouses and storage houses.Disconnect the batteries: If you will be leaving the electronics onboard, disconnect the battery and place a paper bag, silica bead packets, or a bag of rice to absorb moisture that often forms near the wiring harness.
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