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The Masthead
So, once slapped in the face with this realization, I began to
look for other areas of hidden service nightmares, but also
to make note of the points of serviceability that
In this case, further inspection with a flashlight and mirror
showed me the DC negative bus bar nicely laid out on the
inside of the hull to starboard. The wire terminations look
proper; the workmanship is neat and orderly; the equipment
used is of the highest quality. The problem is that there is no
way I can access that bus bar at this point without cutting in
a deck plate under the boat’s folding boarding ladder; fine
for me with my experience, but what about the average new
boat owner? An expensive upgrade is in order.
As for Standards-
based serviceability,
gasoline fuel systems
have been addressed
in ABYC H-24. Service
access to all of the
fuel system connec-
tions and fittings is
mandated and in the
case of my boat, ei-
ther deck plates or
easily removable pan-
els have been pro-
vided by the builder
to facilitate an annual
check as is recom-
mended. So yes, the
builder did comply
with existing
and yes there
is some precedent for
mandating service-
ability when it comes
to potential boat ex-
plosions due to fuel
Another area of interest to me with my boat has nothing to
do with the electrical system, but rather some of the very
limited plumbing on board. The boat has a fish box in the
forward part of the boat. It’s insulated and sized nicely for
the size of the boat. It uses good hardware for the hinges,
even has a gas cylinder to help the lid rise up. It’s got a drain
so that any ice melt can drain overboard. The drain fitting
exits the hull just barely above the static waterline on the
starboard side of the boat just about at mid-ship. No plastic
fittings here! All nice quality cast bronze fittings that are
chrome plated. The builder used good quality hose too. In
all, a nice job with one glaring exception: Access to the drain
fitting at the base of the molded in ice box is achievable by
removing a screwed-in piece of Starboard inside the head
compartment. Unfortunately, the fitting and hose clamp at
the through-hull will never be seen again without cutting in a
deck plate just above it. It is buried in a section of the hull
that is outboard of a large fore-and-aft-oriented stringer.
Since this fitting is right at the waterline in the static floating
position, it’s not required to have a sea cock. But, if there is
ever a failure of the clamp, hose between the ice box and
through-hull fitting, or the fitting itself, there will be no fixing
it without cutting access in the deck of the boat. In fact,
since the hose itself is largely buried in the boat’s structure,
it can’t even be inspected to see if failure might be immi-
nent. I can state from experience that while this boat is un-
derway, water can easily enter the boat through this through
hull fitting and, unnoticed, could cause the boat to sink.
So, the philosophical
question becomes,
what constitutes on-
serviceability for all
fittings that exit
through a boat’s hull
be accessible; and
should the ability to
easily inspect and
make repairs to a
boat’s electrical sys-
tem be considered
as we look forward
with our standards
From a design per-
spective, I see no
question here; it
should be done in
my view. From a
standards develop-
ment perspective, it
could be an interest-
ing debate, one I’d
love to participate in.
At the very least development of some basic serviceability
standards could help recession-ravaged boat builders im-
prove their customer-satisfaction indexes, but I also suspect
we could help to further enhance on-board safety.
So, don’t be shy, let us know your thoughts on this. You can
contact me, Ed Sherman ABYC Director of Educational Pro-
gramming or Brian Goodwin, ABYC Technical Director at
Sept. 2012 Page 14
Design With Serviceability in Mind -
This panel can be opened fully for access because a proper service loop
adequate extra wire length) has been used.