Electrical components

Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
I am in the early stages of figuring out my electrical system and I'm trying to figure out what I need, what I like to have (short and long term).

So working off what I have in the boat right now here is my

Need to have list:
Cabin Lights
Bow Lights
Stern Light
Mast Light
Bilge pump
VHF Radio

Want to have list (in no particular order yet):
Cabin fan(s)
LED Strip lights
Fresh water pump for sink
Raspberry Pi Boat Computer
Sensors for Boat Computer (?)
Music Setup

What am I missing from my lists? I want to build out my system so that it is future proof. Like only 1 battery to start but be able to add a second if needed.
 
Sep 15, 2016
615
Catalina 22 Minnesota
You will likely get a number of opinions but my 2 cents is that your overthinking this or a 22 foot boat. Cabin, running, mast and VHF are must haves but they don't need to be on a house system if you don't want them to. I carry a portable set of lights (though my stock lights still work fin) just incase. My VHF is handheld (limited range but works for my purposes) and I have no need for an electric bilge pump. I have a manual one and bucketts if needed but by that point Ill be honest I'm headed for the nearest shoal to assess other damage im sure.

As for your wants list. Battery powered fans are ideal and portable. Hard mounted fans have limited uses imho. boat computer, sensors, and other technical wizardry... Well I go to the boat to get away from most of that however I use a portable GPS that runs on AA batteries and gets the job done for plotting course, speed, etc. Your electronic needs will depend greatly on the type of sailing and location you will be sailing in. Many cruisers love an autopilot but that will be up to you. More information may be helpful but remember this is a 22 foot boat intended for the occasional weekend / week cruise and day sailing. Dont overthink the electrical stuff as there are plenty more ways to spend your boat bucks.

in the end most sailors will use cabin lights, and some 12v usb outlets for charging phones, etc more than anything else electrical on the boat for a little trailer sailor. Still the sky's the limit I suppose.
 
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Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
@LakeShark I appreciate your insight. I have a terrible track record for remembering to grab things that I need for something, so anything I can 'build in' is one less thing I need to attempt to remember :)

As far as the tech, that's my life
 
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ShawnL

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Jul 29, 2020
55
Catalina 22 3603 Calumet Mi
I don't see anything wrong with your list -- we all have the things we want to do to our boat to make it ours.

I have a raspberry pi running OpenCPN. I have it and a Garmin GPS/Depth finder -- kind of redundant w/ 2 GPS units, but I wanted a depth sounder and the Garmin was on-sale for less than I could get a simple depth sounder. I picked up a cheap tv mounting bracket with a swivel so that I can rotate them both into the cockpit where they sit on the starboard bulkhead next to the companionway, or 180 degrees and flat above the galley.

I find I actually use them quite a bit, but then I'm a technology person as well. And I like having a computer on board for other things.... playing music via a bluetooth speaker from the PI, etc.

I second the battery-powered nav lights. On advice from this forum I purchased a set on Amazon. We don't go out late usually, but if I need them, I can snap them on in 2 minutes and be good. I also added an automatic bilge-pump and plumbed it to a new through hull I installed by the motor mount, above the water line. I guess I feel safer with the boat on a mooring ball if there's the potential for any water to get removed (still chasing down rain leaks). Also have original cabin lights, they work, but we never really use them. And a VHF with a mast-head antenna and wind vang -- the radio came with the boat, so I figured it may as well get wired and used.

I think my next investment will probably be an auto-pilot. Currently, I use my 18-year old son but as he gets older, he'll have less time he wants to hang out sailing with dad.
 
Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
@ShawnL How do you like OpenCPN? Are you using Open Plotter as well? I was also looking at using the RPi for music as well.
I do like the idea of having the battery powered Navlights as backups. I also like the bilge pump setup, I'm considering docking the boat at the local marina. There is something appealing about a short bike ride, hoping on the boat and heading out. I've been sailing an Albacore for the past 15ish years, the prep and take down at the boat launch can only go so fast and is getting kind of annoying.
 
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ShawnL

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Jul 29, 2020
55
Catalina 22 3603 Calumet Mi
No, I'm just using OpenCPN on top of whatever the current raspbian release was last summer. So far I like it, it's not a $1000 chart plotter, but I put a usb-attached gps dongle and a cheap touch screen on it and it seems to work well enough. I don't use it anywhere to it's full potential -- the things I use mostly are the depth chart (so we can pick a good place to drop the hook for a swim), anchor alarm, and probably time to destination (so I can call my wife and say I'll be a litter later than I thought). Of course with that being said, I will probably hook it to my autopilot when I buy one... mainly because I can.

I agree completely about getting on the boat and going. I trailer-sailed all last season when I moved up from a smaller boat (16' sailfish). I'm looking forward to putting the mast up once this season instead of every time.
 
Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
So far I like it, it's not a $1000 chart plotter
I've never used a $1000 chat plotter, but I've played on on TV, wait no that's not right :) I've read a bunch of reviews and watched a few youtube videos, from what I've seen and read it sounds like it's pretty darn close if not better.

Grab a SD card and check out Open Plotter, it uses OpenCPN for chart plotting but adds a bunch of other features to geek out on :)

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who dislikes the prep/take down time for trailering. Ramps around here are stupid busy with impatient folks rushing to get on the water, which makes the experience even more fun.
 

ShawnL

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Jul 29, 2020
55
Catalina 22 3603 Calumet Mi
I'm a linux / unix person (in my day-job) so, I actually liked building it on an OS I was already quite familiar with, and could make do other things.

You aren't alone. Most of our ramps aren't real busy, but it takes the 2 of us about an hour to get the mast up, stays tensioned (at least relatively well) and in the water (someday I'll get better at backing up a trailer). And then another hour when we return from sailing.... In my book, that's 2 more hours I could be sailing or swimming. If it were just me going out, I'd have to rig-up a better mast raising system than what I have now.
 
Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
I'm a linux / unix person (in my day-job) so, I actually liked building it on an OS I was already quite familiar with, and could make do other things.
I believe Open Plotter runs on Raspbian, or Raspberry OS, or whatebver it's called now :) Likewise I am a Linux guy but my Day job is supporting Windows.
 

AaronD

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Aug 10, 2014
537
Catalina 22 9874 Newberg, OR / Olympia, WA
My $.02: The need-to-have and want-to-have lists will vary greatly depending on your intended usage. For daysailing on a familiar lake, even a depth sounder or VHF might be overkill. If you're exploring busy waters, the ability to talk to the big steel things doing 20 knots might be a priority (and if you need to traverse bridges or locks, it's probably a must-have).

From your location in Kingston, I'm guessing you might be sailing Lake Ontario, which might be pretty busy. If you do a fixed-mount VHF, consider one with an AIS receiver (possibly with some way to get the AIS data to your boat computer or tablet - we use a Yakker. A class B AIS transceiver would be even better, but (as with most things), more $$.

Battery-powered nav lights are a good place to start. They're relatively inexpensive, and will serve as backups if you ever do fixed-mount lights (my thoughts on those).

:plus: on LED strip lights in the cabin. My experience there is that the 'waterproof' ones are less prone to delaminate, so worth the extra $2-5 per strip.

If you plan to anchor or moor out, an anchor light is a good plan. Many people will hang a light from a halyard or spreader, but if someone were ever to hit you, having a USCG-approved light at the top of the mast might be a valuable liability defense (of course, our society south of the border is rather more litigious than yours).

Other things you might consider adding to your list someday:
--The aforementioned depth sounder (depending on your gunkholing plans).
--12v or USB outlets. Phones, fans, Kindles, the kids walkie-talkies... I think we're up to about 6 or 7 outlets scattered around, and we still never seem to have a plug in the right place.
--Carbon monoxide detector. ~$100. There are documented cases of deaths from _a neighboring boat's_ emissions.
--Fuel vapor detector. ~$100-150. Some are labeled for propane, others for gasoline vapors. They're the same thing; they all detect hydrocarbon fumes (and you test them with an unlit butane lighter). Some of the 'propane' versions control a solenoid, but you don't need that on a little boat without a propane locker.
--Charging system (solar or shore power, depending on your usage patterns).
--Remote VHF microphone

Sources for electrical info and good marine-grade electrical components:
--Start by reading through @Maine Sail's articles at Marine How To - DIY for Boaters - Marine How To. His site also carries good quality crimp tools at reasonable prices. If you go no further, remember: fuses and breakers are there to protect the wire and prevent fires.
--Blue Sea Systems is top-notch (bus bars, breaker panels, etc.)
--GenuineDealz carries high-quality wire, heat-shrink connectors, etc. Reasonably priced, and they ship quickly. Stock up on crimp connectors, so you have the right parts on hand.
 
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Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
From your location in Kingston, I'm guessing you might be sailing Lake Ontario, which might be pretty busy. If you do a fixed-mount VHF, consider one with an AIS receiver (possibly with some way to get the AIS data to your boat computer or tablet - we use a Yakker. A class B AIS transceiver would be even better, but (as with most things), more $$.
Yes, the water around here can get pretty busy, and those big steel things don't leave much room in the Seaway. I'll have to look deeper into the AIS options when I get to that point but yes we'll have something there.

Battery-powered nav lights are a good place to start. They're relatively inexpensive, and will serve as backups if you ever do fixed-mount lights (my thoughts on those).
I'm a big fan of backups. I've had calls that ended with crying when there is no digital backup of something. I can't imagine not having backups of anything critical now.

:plus: on LED strip lights in the cabin. My experience there is that the 'waterproof' ones are less prone to delaminate, so worth the extra $2-5 per strip.
I've been playing with these on my house to replace the holiday lights. They never come down and are hard to see when not lit. Seems like a logical extension to put the on a boat :)

If you plan to anchor or moor out, an anchor light is a good plan. Many people will hang a light from a halyard or spreader, but if someone were ever to hit you, having a USCG-approved light at the top of the mast might be a valuable liability defense (of course, our society south of the border is rather more litigious than yours).
I might opt for a 'cheaper' option for say a new table, portable stove, or store brand chips but critical components, if it's going to make a difference between a jerk rocking the boat or going through the boat.....

Thanks for the links, I'll check them out for sure. Did you centrally locate your 12V outlets or are they spread around the cabin?
 

AaronD

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Aug 10, 2014
537
Catalina 22 9874 Newberg, OR / Olympia, WA
Did you centrally locate your 12V outlets or are they spread around the cabin?
From memory, I think we have:
--One in each cockpit pocket
--Two in the port-side bulkhead - facing the fiddle shelf, for charging phones, Kindles, etc.
--One in the starboard-side bulkhead - with a mesh pocket attached to the pipe-berth wall, for tablets or laptops
--One in the V-berth - for the kids walkie-talkies and my phone at night, when it doubles as an anchor alarm.
--One in the aft dinette locker, to charge a spotlight and a little dustbuster vacuum that live there.

One other tidbit - the Blue Sea USB chargers are good quality, but (when I bought them awhile back), only supported 2.1A total (1.05A per socket). Good for phones, but slow for larger devices. Now they make a 4.8A version, but it's expensive. So, for some of those locations, I went with standard 12v sockets and a good quality high-speed car chargers plugged into them.
 
Jul 24, 2020
42
Catalina 22 Kingston
From memory, I think we have:
--One in each cockpit pocket
--Two in the port-side bulkhead - facing the fiddle shelf, for charging phones, Kindles, etc.
--One in the starboard-side bulkhead - with a mesh pocket attached to the pipe-berth wall, for tablets or laptops
--One in the V-berth - for the kids walkie-talkies and my phone at night, when it doubles as an anchor alarm.
--One in the aft dinette locker, to charge a spotlight and a little dustbuster vacuum that live there.
Thanks for the info, are they always live or are they switched? I'm assuming a few circuts for the USB outlets.
 

AaronD

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Aug 10, 2014
537
Catalina 22 9874 Newberg, OR / Olympia, WA
Thanks for the info, are they always live or are they switched? I'm assuming a few circuts for the USB outlets.
I have them switched on a 15A circuit, shared with the cabin lights and the handheld VHF chargers (the lights and chargers have smaller fuses off the circuit's bus bars, as their wiring is too small for 15A). I use a Blue Sea 4322 breaker panel, fed from a main battery switch (like these, but mine is older and not as pretty). In theory, I might be able to pop the breaker if I plugged big power consumers into several 12v sockets simultaneously, but that's not likely (and it's what a breaker is for, were I negligent some day).

Always-on would be fine too, as long as you fuse safely, and note the parasitic draw of the USB outlets - Blue Sea's 4.8A model is rated 1mA; totally negligible if you have a charging system going, but maybe worth switching it off when away from the boat if you're using a take-the-battery-home-occasionally-to-charge routine.