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Our morning so far.


And now the work begins!

10 Comments

  1. Mike – I see that you’re at Peakes. Did they supply you with a fibreglass or steel ladder? They’ve had some electrical issues in the yard in recent years. Oh, and I’ve always wanted to know – is Frost a 220V or 110V boat? If you’re headed away from North America, you’re much better off if you have a 220V boat. Not so much from the perspective of plugging in (we’re always able to plug in) but from the perspective or replacement components – like a toaster or kettle etc.

    • Hi Wade. Yes, we’re at Peake’s. The boat is 220v/50Hz.

      They gave us a fiberglass ladder. What is the concern with a metal one?

      The guys are hard at work. They’ve sanded 1/5 of the boat already!

      • Fibreglass ladders – it may be a long story but I’ll try to make it succinct.

        We hauled at PYS in June 2012 and again in June 2013. When we hauled in June 2012, Diane complained of getting a “trickle” of electricity when coming up the PYS provided steel ladder, leaning against our SS swim platform. I investigated and found A/C current of about 30V, but it was variable. You have to understand that the ladder was just “resting” on the dirt and not driven into the ground. With a steel boat, any DC electric motor (alternator, windlass, starting motor etc) is bound to pose a challenge to completely isolate the negative from the hull. There is bound to be some conductivity since the A/C and DC share the same -ve ground. Side note, I have since double isolated the windlass, bow thruster and engine by installing both a negative and positive switch. I immediately investigated the power at PYS and found that although I went to the post with a proper 3 wire 10 gauge cable, and used a 30A to 15A adapter – from the post at the base of our boat to the distribution panel was only 2 wire, i.e. no ground at all. Not surprisingly, my boat “found” a ground through the metal ladder that I had leaned up against the swim platform. I brought this up to management, and they basically “blew me off”. I took the matter into my own hands and installed a 6″ 10 gauge wire (alligator clips at each end) to short the metal ladder to my swim platform. The problem basically disappeared because our boat was now grounded through the PYS steel ladder.

        In June 2013, when we hauled, I saw that there was still no ground circuit, so I again put in my little shorting cable.

        In September 2013 (I remember this because we had just launched and were then in a berth at Crews Inn), a Dutch flagged steel boat “Horta” complained to PYS about a SERIOUS grounding issue (essentially the same problem I discovered a year earlier) and management really blew them off. The crew on Horta had a similar experience to us, but 3 of them were essentially “frozen” to the ladder as the top person reached over to hold onto the shrouds. Nobody died but they were really shaken. Again, the same problem with no ground and the boat “looking” for a ground, any way it can. I talked to management about it again, and they told me that the problem would be solved with “fibreglass ladders”. I said “really?”, why not just re-wire the compound correctly and include a ground? The answer I was given was that this was their solution, a cost effective one.

        A fibreglass boat doesn’t present the same risk, but this remains a SERIOUS safety issue, one that has already resulted in the loss of one life that I’m aware of, and I’d be very surprised that there haven’t been many more (especially in the other yards). Every metal boat that hauls in that yard, and every yard in the world, should always check that the electrical system is properly grounded. If it isn’t, then you need to make your own ground by driving a stake in the ground and connecting a wire from a shroud, backstay, or shaft to the stake. In fact, I should finish by saying that if you’re in any yard, this can be an issue for any boat if the yard electrical isn’t done properly. Best thing is probably be prepared to make your own ground, assume the worst.

        • Wow. That is very interesting. I’m not sure I understand it all completely but I think I get the basics of it. Thanks for sharing!

          • Mike – I recommend that you do some independent research, think about it, and talk with other cruisers about it. In May 2012 a Canadian who flew down to Trinidad to check on his friend’s boat died when he fell off the deck of the boat on the hard at PYS. The reason he fell is that he got a big shock from the electrical cord of the rented AC unit positioned in one of the hatches. He tumbled from the deck to the ground 14 or 15 feet below. The AC unit had 3 wires but as I’ve mentioned, the third wire, the green ground wire, was led to “nothing” at the post. The motor on the AC unit “found ground” when the guy touched the AC unit and “something on the boat”. Now this was a steel boat, so it wasn’t that hard. If it was a fibreglass boat, its likely that all the metal is “floating” and can’t get to ground, but you never know and oftentimes, a short, transient ground may be found (think about a wet deck for example). It might make a very good topic for your blog, but I do not recommend that you provide any individual, boat or yard names. you could be facing a lawsuit. Nonetheless, it is an interesting and very relevant topic, and unfortunately, many peoples “eyes glaze over” when you talk about electricity.

            • I have a little tool that when plugged in to an outlet, will tell if it is wired incorrectly (pos and neg reversed, bad ground, etc). It is made for 110v though. I wonder if it would still work with the correct plug adapter?

  2. It always scares me when the boat flies.

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