This continues our look at improvements to marine electrical systems. Following on our feature on new battery technology, here we review re-charging those batteries, starting with shore cords and isolation transformers. We’ll follow with a subsequent review of generators as well as alternators, dynamos, solar panels and fuel cells. As we noted in the April 2012 Canadian Yachting on page 50, new battery technology is increasingly common in marine applications, but new technology batteries need to be well matched to charging systems and first, you need a power source.

Heating and cooling systems add immensely to cruising comfort, whether you boat in cool shoulder seasons or contend with hot, muggy summers. Most boaters learn quickly that extending their season is ideal – Canadian summers are so short, whether you’re on the west coast or the Great Lakes. In central areas, summer is short but it can be hot and humid, and winter is too cold for much cruising in all parts of Canada. Extending into spring and fall makes boating so much more enjoyable, to say nothing of helping justify the costs.

With a source of external power, shore-cord or generator, current still needs to be fed back into your battery banks to reset their chemistry and return them to full electrical output. This requires a battery charger. Here most boaters can rightly claim to confusion. There are dozens of brands available and most products are a “black-box” with little to distinguish one from the others. There is nothing to show a quality comparison or actual performance, save massive ‘spec’ sheets that tell us too much, usually in techo-talk; incomprehensible without an advanced degree.

Batteries lie at the heart of most boats. We need them to start our engines, power our electronics, chill our food and sometimes cook our meals. We rely on them but often don’t give them much thought until they fail. Or outlive their normal lifespan of about five years and need to be replaced. With major advances in new technologies reaching the marine marketplace, let’s take a look at alternatives to the traditional lead-acid battery.

So, I have to open with a joke. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide all the other people in the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. For the purposes of this article, I do! To be more specific, I divide boaters into two kinds of people: those who want to play in the engine room and those who don’t. Whether your boat is power or sail, you are almost certain to have an engine and every engine needs maintenance and occasional repair.

altGetting the owner of an older sailboat to spend the money on a brand new diesel auxiliary is a challenge for many marine service businesses. Often the costs involved in the purchase and installation of a new powerplant carries a bill that can make most recreational boaters blush and run away. Some vessels, however, are built for the long haul and replacing the diesel engine on an otherwise sound mechanical vessel can extend the life of the boat at a fraction of the cost of the replacement of the entire boat. Newer marine diesels are also more fuel efficient, smoother, quieter, lighter, and pack far more horsepower into smaller packages.

altSmart chargers are not new, but they are getting smarter all the time and that’s a great thing.

In almost every issue of Canadian Yachting, we suggest you add some new or upgraded piece of equipment to your boat and virtually everything runs on electricity. The highest draw equipment onboard would be your windlass, air conditioning and refrigeration, but new entertainment systems, navigation equipment and galley items can all add big load increases.

Complicating this, battery manufacturers are always working to improve the performance of their products and new batteries can change the “charging profile” of the battery bank.

First, if you just remember one thing from this article, remember - never swim in a marina.

Why? Because in a marina, you have people, water and electricity. When everything is working properly, that is a recipe for fun and great times. But, if just one wire chafes through its insulation and shorts to ground, there is the potential for tragedy.

 

diy-electrical-run_hard-smallWe recently spent time aboard a 54' Bertram called the Maple Leaf and the boat's owner made a great comment about his boat. He said that he has not fixed up a used boat; his boat is in the process of 22 years of constant improvement!

I loved that attitude. Bertram's 54 was designed and built as a sport fishing yacht and the only real advantage of moving to a new boat would be that it was new.

diy-electrical-engine_choices-smallThe recent Miami International Boat Show (February 14-18, 2007) was the launching pad for a host of new products, most notably from the engine manufacturers.

Among the biggest news stories in the diesel field was that Cummins MerCruiser Diesel (CMD) has announced that they have started shipment of pre-production Zeus pod drive systems.

Destinations

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Some may say that the sailing experience of monohulls versus catamarans is as different as chalk ...
The Presque Isle peninsula is a 3,200-acre – 7-mile long arm that extends northeast into Lake Erie ...
I know of no other boating location quite like the town of Gananoque in the Thousand Islands.The ...
Having cruised the BC coast for several decades, we enjoy sharing information about the remote ...
Glendale Cove, on BC’s Knight Inlet, is protected habitat for grizzly bears – and the ideal spot to ...
Years before realizing my family and I would find happiness in boating, Bronte Village had been a ...
The family of the Great Lakes, like our own, has members who each enthusiastically demonstrate ...
Clayoquot SoundClayoquot is one of the major sounds on Vancouver Island’s wild West Coast, and a ...
The Rideau WaltzI have lived in Ontario my entire life but have likely explored more acres outside ...
It was still dark when we departed our home slips in Chrystal Harbour, LaSalle, Ontario, and ...

Boat Reviews

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Bernie Luttmer of Swan’s Yacht Sales, has finally had his brainchild come to life, and he tells me ...
The BC builder takes a big step forward with its largest yacht to date: stylish, fast and ...
Modern graceful elegance is what Dufour’s Umberto Felci was trying to achieve when he designed the ...
The very first Sabre yacht, was a Sabre 28 sailboat appropriately named Patience. Sabre repurchased ...
When the time finally comes to do the dream destination cruising you've always talked about, you ...
The Offshore series from Canada’s largest aluminum pleasure boat builder offers practicality, range ...
Embodying the Cruising Sailor’s Wish List.The Bavaria Vision 42 is the product of collaboration ...
The Beneteau Oceanis 38 claims more flexibility than seen before on this size of boat and a new way ...
From the first glance the wide open decks large cockpit and overall look and feel of this boat are ...
The brand new Cruisers Yachts 328 Bow Rider is one of a new breed of boats that is redefining our ...

Environment

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Boating and astronomy can be a match made in the heavens. The inky black canvas above the boat is ...
The 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay is a boater’s dream destination with crystal clear waters, ...
New rules severely restrict where and how salt-water boaters can discharge sewage. Is your boat ...
Many Canadian Yachting readers have likely experienced the beauty of British Columbia’s Gulf ...
Many newspaper headlines appeared in the spring of 2012 with these two names highlighted. The ...
Investing in a reusable winter cover is a sound environmental choice and a practical way to ...
I’m on vacation! Things can turn ugly in paradise when you finally reach that secluded anchorage. ...
I've been a pilot for 37 years and spent 28 years flying passenger aircraft for the airlines ...
There's been lots of talk about electric boats recently, but few examples are actually out on the ...
I think it’s a given that as a Canadian Yachting reader, you are passionate about ...

Lifestyle

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If you are ready to start your Holiday baking or just plain need a great chocolate fix these ...
It doesn’t seem to matter if you are on the east coast, in the Prairies, or on the west coast, ...
An easy salmon dish with homemade teriyaki sauce and a Sriracha cream sauce that will knock your ...
Soup season is in full swing and this Tomato Tortellini Soup with Pesto is just the recipe to warm ...
This flavour-infused pasta dish is terrific for any season.  It takes a little bit of prep time but ...
As the season's evenings grow cooler boaters will be looking for heartier galley meals to extend ...
Cooler days and cooler nights make everyone want to prepare something warm and comforting... This ...
This is a simple recipe too.  The only challenging part is rolling up the tortillas without ...
This recipe is great for a make-ahead easy yet satisfying on board meal.  You can use chicken or ...
The formation of Glacial Lake Iroquois, at the end of the last ice age, was to have a lasting ...

Marine Products

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In a world where frequent system updates for your phone, tablet and computer are the norm, it ...
The adjustable-width ramp assembles in seconds, features a quick connect system for joining ...
The SailTimer Wind Instrument™ is a new high tech masthead anemometer that transmits directly ...
Just like diamonds, stainless steel is forever. Combining beauty and strength, stainless steel ...
The compact McMurdo Smartfind Plus G5 GPS EPIRB features a high performance, multi-channel GPS ...
50 amp cordsets from marine electrical products manufacturer Furrion feature Powersmart™ blue LEDs ...
The Yacht-Master II is designed to meet the needs of professional sailors. This regatta chronograph ...
Sweden-based Radinn, a company aiming to "revolutionize the watersport industry,” is trying to make ...
Taylor Made Systems is introducing a new range of glass sunroof systems for the boating industry at ...
KVH TracVision® owners in the U.S. can now enjoy satellite TV from DISH Network® on their boats and ...