SHORE-POWER WOE

Boating - - FRONT PAGE -

Mick, I re­al­ize that this is a DIY col­umn, but I am con­sid­er­ing the pur­chase of a drink holder/catch-all that in­stalls us­ing suc­tion cups. Do you have any opin­ions on these? Ever put one on a boat? I do have the tools and skills to in­stall a tra­di­tional unit, it’s just that I’d rather boat than turn a screw­driver! John McHenry Fort Sa­longa, New York

A: Yes, the bilge pump will be hot-wired at the bat­tery switch. Check to make sure the au­to­matic switch is not getting stuck in the “on” po­si­tion. The A: Hi John. I have no ex­pe­ri­ence in­stalling these suc­tion-cup ac­ces­sories, but I do have an opin­ion from my time aboard Edi­tor-in-Chief Kevin Falvey’s boat. He has a few suc­tion-mounted ac­ces­sories at his boat’s helm, and they stay se­cure in coastal wa­ters. Falvey re­ports that the suc­tion cups need to be re­placed ev­ery three years or so, be­cause they even­tu­ally lose grip. He told me the suc­tion cups are avail­able alone, so there is ap­par­ently no need to re­place an en­tire cup holder or stor­age box. float should be pointed aft (hinged for­ward) to avoid go­ing on if the bow gets lifted or the boat leans to one side. This is proper in­stal­la­tion, even for a boat that is trail­ered or stays in the wa­ter, be­cause run­ning in waves might turn the pump on. It could be an im­proper float-switch in­stall.

Also, is there any wa­ter left in the bilge when the boat is hauled? If so, make sure any wiring is not in that wa­ter.

As for the ra­dio, yes, the mem­ory draws a small amount. Here’s a sim­ple test you can try first. Turn off all switches and all de­vices. Turn off the bat­ter­ies. Now start turn­ing things on one by one. If any of them (ex­cept the bilge pump) come on, fo­cus on that cir­cuit. It could be that the switch is wired wrong or there’s a bad ground on that cir­cuit.

If that does not turn up any­thing, you need to get a dig­i­tal mul­ti­me­ter and, with the bat­tery switch off, test each and ev­ery de­vice on the out­put side of the switch for that de­vice look­ing for volt­age. There may be a min­i­mal amount (in­suf­fi­cient to power up the de­vice) but enough to drain your bat­tery over time. There could be wires touch­ing each other or ter­mi­nals of dif­fer­ent cir­cuits touch­ing each other. Or a bad switch.

Pa­tience, per­sis­tence and de­tec­tive work will pay off, if the bilge-pump in­stall checks out and the sim­ple test of switch­ing things on one at a time fails to turn any­thing up. Good luck!

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