Marine News from the Great Lakes

Tips For Boating: What To Do With The New Stuff

Published: Monday, January 29, 2018
By: Capt. Fred Davis

You may have received some new equipment for your boat for Christmas and it’s a good idea to learn how to install it. If you want to DIY, check out these tips.

Electronics and Wiring

Electronics vary in size and application but regardless of the size of your vessel, if not properly installed, major problems can occur. Before drilling holes or putting bolts in the dash, you should run some preemptive testing. First, be sure to have all your installed electronics powered up and in their normal positions. Be certain your boat batteries are fully charged. Next, decide where you want to mount any new electronic items. Hook up the wiring and antenna (if so equipped) to each of them and power up, one at a time.

Check read-outs or gauges of each of your existing electronics and note any changes. Watch your compass carefully for any variation while turning each dash instrument on and off. When you are certain there is no interference, use the template or bracket to determine bolt positions.

Locate the proper drill size — be sure it’s sharp — and carefully drill your mounting holes. Be aware of any wires or equipment on the underside of the bolt holes. Each hole drilled should be counter-sunk to avoid chipping.

Any heavy item or free-standing piece should have a plate or stainless washer underneath the mounting area to avoid vibration. All fasteners should be high grade stainless with lock-type nuts. Avoid using screws whenever possible since they vibrate loose over time, and remember to prepare a hole for wiring before mounting by sanding the rough edges.

When wiring, use solder or crimp connections protected by heat shrink tubing. Run the bolts into the mounting holes to check size, then remove and mount the item firmly. To avoid cracks, do not over tighten. Use a sealant bedding to ensure moisture cannot seep in at the bolt holes or around the wiring. If you must route a wire in a blind area, be sure to pull a string through for future wiring needs. If you install speakers or a microphone, test with the power on before mounting because these items can also interfere with your compass.


Before drilling holes or putting bolts in the dash, have all your electronics powered up and in their normal positions, and be sure your boat’s batteries are fully charged.


Fenders and Dock Lines

If you received new fenders or dock lines, locate a good place on board to store them where they can be readily available. There are straps to hold lines and varying sizes of fender holders that will fasten to your rails. On larger vessels, a fender board may provide more protection in areas of choppy water or boat wakes. Now would be a good time to make one.

Protect Paper Charts

With all the modern electronics on board, you may believe you don’t need paper charts anymore.  However, an electrical storm or a magnetic field can leave you helpless.  Most boaters that have attended Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary classes know the importance of carrying charts. If you don’t have them on board, it’d be advisable that you educate yourself about all the reasons why it’s suggested they be on board. Regardless, be sure to store them in a waterproof tube.

tags: Boating 101

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