No. 56 - February 1984


Don Anderson


If you are a student of the Power Squadron, you will have been enjoined to keep a log of your boat. Being such a student (albeit a naive one) eleven years ago when I got Tantramar, I obtained one with the standard format - "Time - Log - Chart Course", etc., printed neatly across the top of each page. In my earlier sailing days I paid some attention to those names at the top of the columns. But sailing on an inland waterway like Lake St. Louis, it's not often one seriously charts course, reads barometer and thermometer - at least as a function of sailing. So, the "Remarks" column has tended to grow at the expense of the others. Not only that, as I started to accumulate pictures, clippings, small charts, photograph pages began to appear and even the remarks suffered various metamorphoses.


Nevertheless, I have found the "log" book most useful in keeping records of where I have been, crew names, telephone numbers, race results, shroud turnbuckle settings just before the mast is taken down, battery voltage, repairs and boat events of all kinds. What's more, I can take the log books down this time of year and relive some delightful experiences (often in colour) just by reading over the "log" of the trip.


Well, I guess the metamorphosis towards "Remarks" had become full blown about the time of my trip to charter in the British Virgin Island. I determined I would keep a "log" of our trip in that 32.5 ft. Irwin. Just to show you how it is done, I give you on the following page an (almost) unexpurgated replica of the first page. If this doesn't tell you readers how to set out a cruise, maybe it will tempt you into starting a "log" of your own - put some heart on the chart and some nonsense in the log. Years later it will be history - yours.




John Charters (#1000 BDYC)


In the December issue I talked about batteries. In the same issue Jacques d'Avignon has a photo of his twelve volt plug, used for his hand-held spotlight. This got me to thinking about other 12 volt accessories. I think the first electrical accessory I added was a cigarette lighter. I have long since lost the lighter, what I wanted was the 12 volt outlet. Those were early cruising days when I was still trying to convince myself that an inflatable dinghy was what I always wanted. (It isn't!) After a few uses, I soon became tired of hand-pumping the dinghy, so I bought an electric pump. On the end of its cord was a lighter plug. Hence the need for the outlet. Worked the very best, and still does, except I no longer have an inflatable dinghy. The pump is for sale, should anyone be interested.


I have since found a number of uses for this outlet, not the least is for Radio Shack's ‘Auto Electrical System Analyzer’ (#22-1635, $8.95 Cdn). Unless you have an alternator, the charging system function is not going to be of much use. But the battery condition indicator is. Three little LED lights, red, yellow and green. Plug this gadget into the outlet, and if your battery is fully charged, the yellow light glows. When the charge slips to about half-charge, both yellow and red lights glow. When it is time for a recharge, the red light alone glows. It draws so little current, I leave it installed all the time, and a quick glance tells me just how the battery is doing. In the winter I use the Analyzer in the car. Mind you, this does cause my guests concern; they hasten to inform me that there is a little yellow light on underneath the V-berth.


The second use is for my hand-held spotlight. I bought an automobile sealed beam, 12 volt spotlight, and once again, the cord ended in a lighter plug. Not quite as convenient as Jacques, but then I've only had to use it a few times. But how I wish we'd had that spotlight the time we tried to find Jones Inlet in the dark ­the year of the Tall Ships visit to New York in '76. But that's another story!


There are all kinds of 12 volt accessories one can have, all of which require a cigarette lighter receptacle. Many are sold by Radio Shack, including a flexible map light and various DC adapters to convert 12 volts to six and nine for calculators, stereos, small TV's and so on.


There are all sorts of marine 12 volt instruments and accessories, the more obvious being depth finders, knot meters and logs, VHF radio telephones, compass, plus a whole slew of instruments that practically sail the boat for you. I know of several T22 owners that have installed auto-helms, and from all reports, have been very pleased. If you like music, a stereo cassette player, with or without AM/FM radio, is not too expensive. If you buy the marine type, yes they are expensive, but those sold for car use work just fine, as long as you keep them out of the way of salt water splashes. I bought a 'Sparkomatic' stereo cassette player while on holidays a couple of years ago, on sale for something like $39.00 including speakers. Not the quality of sound one could get from a home stereo system, but it does sound surprisingly good, better than the average portable radio. For that price you don't get outdoor speakers, but then no Tanzer owner would be guilty of blasting music across the bay anyway. I mounted mine on the bulkhead that separates the forward V berth from the main cabin - plenty loud enough to hear when sailing, but not enough to annoy the neighbours.


Now, before you rush out to buy all these electrical goodies, remember that little 12 volt battery that comes with your boat was not designed to handle too much extra. I'm not sure how many ampere-hours the standard marine battery has, there seems to be a great reluctance on the part of battery manufacturers to put this information on their batteries. I suspect it around 80 Ah, and if you compare that to the 200 Ah, 85 lb. monsters Jacques d'Avignon (Newsletter #54) uses, (I think he has two of those brutes!) you must soon realize how little reserve capacity that standard battery has. The real measure of a battery's capacity is the amount of charge it can store, and that is measured in electrical current times time or ampere hours. The capacity of batteries typically used in Tanzer 22's range from 40 ampere hours to Jacques' 200 amp. To quote from the T22 Owner's Manual: - "The bulbs in the navigation lights are No. 68. A No. 68 bulb uses 0.6 amps. Thus with the port, starboard and stern navigation lights turned on, consumption would be 1.8 amps. The 40 amp hour battery when fully charged would thus provide approximately 20 hours continuous running, after which the battery would require recharging." Notice that 1.8 amperes x 20 hours is 36 amp hours or not the full 40 amp hours. This is merely a subtle warning that you shouldn't discharge the battery fully because it harms it to do so. I have two regular group 24 batteries on Red Baron (1 marine - 1 auto) and I find they need charging at least once a month. On a cruise, two weeks is about all I get. And I have the following: VHF & knot meter/log (EMS) depth sounder (Seafarer Mk II) compass light, stereo, three cabin lights and the standard running lights.


Now we come to the interesting part, connecting all those neat gadgets up! You have two choices. The conventional way is to connect each accessory to the switch panel. As delivered from the factory, there is an extra or space switch on the switch panel, assuming not too many extras are involved, you can run your wires to that switch. Or use the 'ring' system as described on Page 20 of the December Cruising World. Briefly, one runs a pair of heavy wires down each side of the boat, then as each electrical accessory is added, they are tapped into this heavier wire, with just a short run of lighter wires to the instrument. An inline fuse can be used to protect each one. Simple?


You probably know this already, but if a pair of wires passes within a few feet of your compass, there is a danger of creating a magnetic field and altering the deviation. To minimize this disturbance, tightly twist the wires together. Then you can check to see if there is still some interference by switching the current on and off, watching the compass as you do so. To be on the safe side, try this on several boat headings. If you observe any change in the compass reading when the power is switched on, try twisting the wires tighter, or else re-route the wires.


Despite the temptation to hide all your wires behind the headliner, or some other trim, I don't advise doing this. If you ever get a short or a break in the line, you'll have the devil's own time trying to locate and fix same. Better to buy some 'wire ties' from the factory, or once again Radio Shack. Another neat idea is the heat shrinkable tubing, comes in sizes from 1/16" to 1/2" and really makes a bundle of wires nice and shipshape. I like to solder my connections, and this tubing makes a very tidy method of sealing a connection. In any case, no matter how you choose to tie your wires, they should be led in such a way as to be reasonably accessible. And if possible, not along the bottom of the bilge. Water, especially salt, is not the best treatment for any wire, no matter how well insulated or sealed. The exception, of course, is a 12 volt bilge pump. Eventually you'll have to lead the wires to the pump, which of necessity is under water some of the time - probably why my pump no longer works!


Many 12 volt accessories do not care where you connect the positive and negative wires, lights for example. However others do care and it is vital you know which wire is positive and which is negative. Therefore, if you can, use color-coded wire, and by convention, positive is red. VHF's, CB's, TV's will blow their fuses the instant you reverse the polarity. Most, if not all cars have a negative ground, so if you plan on installing the little cigarette lighter receptacle I mentioned at the start, you should be sure to connect the negative side to the ground. Then you'll have the proper polarity for any accessories with a lighter plug.


A project I've had in mind for some time is to install two permanent external lugs, to which a battery charger could be connected. To be located somewhere convenient, with 2 easily removed insulated caps (so no chance of something falling against these lugs and shorting out the system) and in this way, one would avoid having to lift the V-berth cushion, hatch cover and fiddle around in the dark, trying to connect the charger up to the battery. If any of you have done this I'd like to hear from you.