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Mast Wiring

Jun 11, 2015
Catalina 22 Seattle
Have an '81 C22, I have been busy since I bought her in Nov upgrading hardware. The previous owner didn't have a battery on board. I have a new deep cycle, and want to get things working. First things first, anchor light and steaming light, I want to know before I raise the mast for the season that these two lights are working (at least to the wiring plug at the bottom of the mast).
Also, there was no bulb in the mid-mast "deck light socket". Could this boat not be wired for a separate deck light circuit?
I'm putting in replacement LED bulbs, anything I have to know or just "plug em in"?
Sep 8, 2014
Catalina 22 Swing Keel San Diego
Its basic 12V stuff... if you've worked on simple electrical issues with cars, the same general principles apply.
You can start by simply tracing the wires back from the deck socket to the fuse/circuit board. If you have an anchor light plus a steaming light/deck light combo then you'll have to have 3 hots and a common ground, and there should be a selecting switch somewhere in the cabin. C-22's originally only hast a masthead light, so there is only a single hot and ground laid in-between the cabin liner and cabin top. Most C-22 owners have abandoned the wire, many were never even hooked up to begin with. Its possible that there is no halogen bulb in the deck light socket because there is not hot feeding it from inside the mast, or simply that the old light was burnt out. Easy check since you have the mast down is to unscrew the light housing from the mast and check the wires. If you don't have a hot for it then you have to addd one or live without it. This is also a good time to check all the screws on the mast and make sure they aren't corroded to heck, take them out and make sure they are isolated (tef-gel) when you put them back in. Good practice to check over and fix/replace/isolate all mast hardware.
To test the lights you hook up a small motorcycle battery to the main board. Then you actually have to plug the mast's hook up which requires getting the base of the mast close to the step... yes, this can be a pain. If you have the mast on sawhorses on the ground you can test the lights by using a gator clip/probe type wire set up so you can make contact with the pins in the connector. Please, use an in-line fuse to protect the hot wire.
Sep 14, 2014
Catalina 22 Pensacola, Florida
I can verify that at least on my 83 Cat 22 there are only a black and a white wire in the cabin top and based on the white going to the anchor lite switch on the original panel it was meant to be a masthead anchor light circuit if it is working. So if yu want more you will have to do the connector thing for 3 hots and a ground as noted by CloudDiver.
Sep 14, 2014
Catalina 22 Pensacola, Florida
BTW I am in the process of installing a deck connector and 4 wire harness to wire the anchor, steaming lite and have one extra line for a deck lite or whatever.


Aug 18, 2015
Catalina 22 Panama City, FL
I have had crazy light issues since buying Hoisier Daddy. I suspected a ground issue. Last week I discovered four wire connector had ground in wrong position.


May 30, 2012
1974 Catalina 22 Port Washington, NY
I ended up scrapping my steaming light and rewired for a perko combo steaming/anchor light. It happened to be on top of the mast when I got the boat anyway. I added a 4 pole deck connector (only need 3 poles) and put a double pole/double throw (DPDT) switch on the panel. I do have a another 2 pole deck connector just for a deck light that has its own switch. Technically the steaming light should be mid-mast but I don't think it will confuse anyone!
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Just retrieved this from the West Marine website. It is a little cleaner description of the Coast Guard rules for navigation lights.
Regarding your issue:
  • Sailboats under power are considered powerboats.
  • Sidelights may be combined into a single "bicolor" light.
  • Powerboats less than 20m (65.7') in length need to show sidelights, a stern light and a masthead light. Power vessels less than 12m may show a single all-round light in lieu of the separate masthead and stern lights.
  • Sailing vessels less than 20m in length need to show sidelights and a stern light. These may be combined into a bicolor light and stern light, or a single tricolor light at the top of the mast. Sailing vessels under 7m must have an electric torch or lantern available for collision avoidance.
So as I read the regulations, you can locate all of your lights on a single fixture on the top of your mast. Run new 14 gauge wire from your mast head to the base. install a quick disconnect (i.e 4 pole connector - 2 or 3 hots and 2 or 1 ground) then run wire to your new circuit switches/fuse panel. Connect your panel to your battery. New wire less likely to have a short. Reliability for years of use.

Suggest you review the contributions of Stu Jackson ( Electrical Systems 101 http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5977.0.html ) and or Maine Sail both with terrific knowledge of marine electrical systems. http://forums.sailboatowners.com/index.php?members/maine-sail.2/


Sep 17, 2015
1985 Ericson 32-III Everett
On the matter of LED bulbs, be careful, some of them have a polarity need (they'll work plugged in one way, but not the other). I tend to like LEDs from MarineBeam, which have that solved, plus they include circuitry that manages variations in voltage gracefully.