Why Some Boaters Suddenly Can’t Connect to Shore Power

Boaters Across the country are struggling to connect to shore power pedestals. The reason why will shock you.


No Shore Thing

Shore power should be easy. If you frequent marinas often enough, you probably take reliable shore power for granted. However, some boaters are running into trouble connecting to shore power these days, especially in marinas rebuilt following last year’s tropical storms. Marinas rebuilding piers and infrastructure are being updated to the latest code standards relating to shore power connections. As a result, many boats are tripping newly installed, more sensitive shore power breakers.

Boaters benefit a great deal from the efforts of organizations like the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and code agencies like the National Electric Code (NEC). Through their education and standards, boats and marinas are designed and built to keep users safe. However, there are times when codes and standards get ahead of manufacturing, and boaters are left with problems from incompatible systems.

Most everyone is familiar with a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI outlet. For many years we’ve used them in our home’s kitchens and baths, or anywhere something plugged into an electrical outlet could come in contact with water. You know them by the small reset buttons built into the outlet. They are mandated for residential wiring by building code for personal safety against electrocution. Electricity flows from an outlet to an appliance and back again in a loop along the hot and neutral wires in the power cord. The GFCI monitors the electricity flowing through the loop. If the device plugged in were to fall into a bathtub or get wet, thereby allowing electricity to flow into the water, the GFCI would detect the loss or imbalance of current in the loop and trip a highly sensitive breaker in the outlet. GFCI outlet receptacles are able to detect an imbalance of as little as 4 or 5 milliamps and they can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. Boats built to ABYC standards also have GFCI outlets installed in the heads, galleys and exterior spaces.

When you connect your boat to shore power, it is similar to connecting an appliance to an outlet: There is a flow of electricity traveling in a loop between your boat and the shore power pedestal along the hot and neutral wires in your shore power cord. There is also a third wire in your shore power cord—that is a ground wire. If anywhere in the boat’s wiring or in an appliance on the boat the neutral and ground are connected, current will be diverted from the loop, creating a “leak” of electricity from the circuit and into the boat’s bonding or ground system. Due to a lack of standards in the past—or to variances in how a boat’s appliances are wired— this condition could occur in a large percentage of recreational boats. Electricity flowing through a boat’s bonding system by way of the ground wire results in a potential for electrical current to flow into the water around the boat. One of the primary reasons marinas post signs prohibiting swimming in the marina is due to the potential for electricity in the water, and the risk of drowning by electric shock.

To address the safety risk caused by faulty or incorrectly wired boats, in 2011 the NEC implemented a change in Article 555.3 affecting marinas and boatyards. A state’s implementation of building codes typically lags behind national code bodies by a few years, so it wasn’t until 2014 that states began requiring compliance with the 2011 NEC standards.

The updated code required marinas to install Ground Fault Protection (GFP)—a device similar to GFCI— in the marina’s shore power system. The GFP is capable of detecting electricity leaking from a circuit in the same way a GFCI does, and it cuts off the supply of electricity to the boat. The updated code required ground fault protection to not exceed 100 milliamps of ground fault current leakage. Most marinas, however, have been opting to provide “ground fault for equipment” (GFEP) breakers at individual boat slips, which disconnects electricity to the boat at 30 milliamps of ground fault leakage. This matches a new ABYC standard for boats.

Around the same time the NEC instituted new standards for marinas, ABYC recommended boat manufacturers install a similar safety device at the entry point of the boat’s shore power, called an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI). The ELCI monitors the flow of electricity in a circuit in the same way as the previously mentioned devices. If the device senses an imbalance of more than 30 milliamps, it cuts off the supply of electricity to the boat. All new boats should comply with this ABYC recommendation; however an ELCI can also be installed in an existing boat’s shore wiring circuit.

Boaters connecting to renovated marinas are becoming aware of wiring issues in their boats, and these problems are the result of this newly installed, more sensitive equipment. Yet it isn’t only older boats having problems; many late model boats have similar wiring issues. The exact problem within the boat can be difficult to find, increasing the frustration level of boaters and marina staff. According to Michael Giannotti, an ABYC-certified electrician and master technician from Hartge Yacht Yard who has investigated these problems for boaters in Fort Pierce, Florida, several likely culprits are reappearing on many boats, including:

♦ Inverters
♦ Household appliances, like washers and dryers
♦ Ice makers and refrigerators
♦ Generator transfer switches
♦ Older or faulty galvanic isolators
♦ Air-conditioning control boards
♦ Corroded electrical connections
♦ Faulty power cord, splitter or smart Y adapters

The items in that list are the ones noted as reoccurring most frequently, but in reality a wide range of issues can be the cause.

Having discovered some of the causes of wiring issues, professionals like Giannotti say it’s especially important to follow the correct steps when connecting a boat to shore power. Here are some guidelines.

First, turn off the primary breaker in the shore power connection. Then, turn off all branch circuit breakers within the boat. Once the shore power cord is connected and locked into place, turn on the shore power connection at the dock pedestal, with the boat’s main AC breaker still off. If the breaker trips immediately, you know the problem is likely the shore cord or Y adaptor. Next, turn on the boat’s main AC breaker with all of the branch circuits still off. If the shore power pedestal breaker trips, the problem is likely an improperly wired transfer switch or inverter. If the dock pedestal breaker trips after an individual branch circuit breaker is switched on, it is likely the problem is a device connected to the breaker or defective control board in an HVAC or refrigerator circuit. This procedure works in diagnosing at least where the problem lies, and it’s effective on most boats, assuming they have two pole main breakers for 30-amp/125-volt inlets and three pole main breakers for 50-amp/250-volt inlets.

Some marinas have developed test methods for determining if a ground fault condition exists within a boat prior to connecting the boat to the shore power network. For instance, Fort Pierce City Marina has a portable power pedestal with a GFP tester in it, and two at the fuel dock.

I unfortunately had apersonal experience with this issue after bringing our newly built boat into Fort Pierce City Marina and tripping the GFP devices in their shore power. Once we worked through the stages of denial and anger, we undertook a complete inspection of the boat’s electrical system. Following the electrician’s advice, we came to the conclusion it would be easier to install an isolation transformer than to re-wire portions of the boat, after making sure there were no dangerous conditions as it was wired. With the isolation transformer effectively acting as its own power supply, it creates two loops of current: one moving from shore power to the transformer and back to shore, and a second from the transformer through the boat and back to the transformer. The current that originates within the isolation transformer will never travel back to shore power. Isolation transformers may be a good solution to ground fault problems aboard your boat, and may offer additional benefits like correcting reverse polarization in the shore power and providing galvanic protection.

Whether investigating an electrical problem, or installing new electrical equipment, I recommend a thorough investigation of all of the boats wiring be conducted by an ABYC-certified electrician.


7 Trends to Watch Out for In The Boating Industry

Needless to say, technology has influenced every facet of life and business in this 21st century. Institutions and industries alike are buying into the enormous potentials and prospects that are embedded in technological advancements. The boating industry is not left out of this.

Manufacturers have employed available technology over the years to design boats with functionalities that will blow your mind away; that’s of you are a Skipper of course. This is imperative as it has given room for more recreational boats to hit the docks.

These technological advancements has gone a long way in improving the boating experience both at the docks and out there in the waters.

Whether you are a manufacturer or a consumer, you need to look out for these tech trends in 2018. Read the Full Story Here…

Yacht Hull Vanes for Fuel Efficiency

Once banned from the America’s Cup for providing “an unfair advantage,” a Hull Vane was affixed to a launch from Heesen Yachts to provide enhanced efficiency. The result was unbelievable.


The Hull Vane® is a patented fixed foil located below the stern of a ship, for fuel saving and improved seakeeping. The Hull Vane influences the stern wave pattern and creates hydrodynamic lift, which is partially oriented forward. This results in a reduction in of the ship’s resistance. The performance of the Hull Vane® depends on the ship’s length, speed and hull shape in the aft sections, and ranges from 5 to 15% for suitable ships. In specific cases, savings up to 20% are possible.

Read More….

Introducing Siren Marine’s Connected Boat System

The power to know—wherever you are—that your boat is safe.

Get connected. Siren Marine’s new MTC Boat Monitoring and Tracking System relieves your worries about leaving your boat unattended on its trailer or in its slip. Monitor, track and control key systems that are shown below, and know that your vessel is safe from thieves, dead batteries or high water in the bilge.

Siren Marine Diagram

Using your smartphone, the Internet of Things (IoT) and new technology to make boating safer and more fun

Here’s a tale that is all too common: You left the boat all buttoned up on Sunday afternoon, and you’re pretty sure everything is OK, but some nagging doubts are starting to trouble your mind. Did you remember to turn the battery charger on? Has the battery bank gone dead again? Is the water level in the bilge rising? Is the engine due for an oil change? And what about those burglaries you read about on the marina bulletin board?

Is your pride and joy—your baby—going to be OK until the next time you return?

Boat owners, do you worry about your boat when it is all alone in its slip or on its trailer? We sure do, and that’s why we’re excited about a bunch of new electronic gadgets that give us some help with our peace of mind. It’s the Connected Boat, using your smartphone, the Internet and new technology, and giving you the power to know—wherever you are—that your boat is safe, secure and ready to enjoy.

Where’s my boat?

For many boaters, security is a big concern, unless you’re one of the lucky folks whose vessel is tied to a dock right outside your back door. Fortunately, there are some new solutions.

Siren Marine MTC

Monitor your boat, track its location and status, control onboard systems such as cabin and cockpit lights, air conditioning, battery switches or bilge pumps and keep your vessel secure, almost anywhere in the world. This new Monitoring, Tracking and Control (MTC) system utilizes the global 3G cell phone network, the Internet of Things and an app you can view on your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

The MTC Device is the hub of the Siren Marine system.“Spade
The pinout for this device gives you an idea of the number of wired sensors you can connect.

Siren Marine users receive instant alerts if someone tries to break in, there’s water leaking into the bilge, shore power is disconnected, the refrigerator stops working, or the boat moves from its historical GPS position. Monitoring your boat via the Internet is not new, but what is new and unique is that Siren Marine’s device also lets you control your boat’s systems using remote switching. You can switch on a battery bank, control a bilge pump, or even turn the air conditioner on so the boat will be cool when your guests arrive.

The heart of Siren’s system is the MTC Device, an onboard black box that aggregates data from sensors on your boat and communicates with you using the GSM 3G cellular network. It monitors your boat’s location and battery voltage, right out of the box.

Add sensors to monitor other systems

Add wired or wireless motion detectors, reed switches and canvas snap sensors, and you’ll know if someone breaks in. You can then remotely sound a loud alarm, disconnect the boat’s main battery or switch on some bright lights to scare the intruder off. Siren Marine’s MTC allows you to switch up to four light-duty circuits (less than one amp each) or control high-amperage circuits with a Blue Sea Systems Remote Battery Switch.

Additional wired sensors are sold separately, and currently let you monitor and control shore power, DC accessories or the temperature of a cabin, engine room, fridge or bait locker. Connect any (normally open) float switch or high-water sensor, and get notice of high water in the bilge. Monitor your engine’s hours. Siren Marine will be adding more sensors, and wireless sensors, to their assortment in fall 2017.

There is a subscription required for Siren’s system. Their Service plan requires activation directly on www.SirenMarine.com after your MTC Device is installed. Annual Service Plan: $180.00; Monthly Service Plan: $17.97; Seasonal Service Plan: $125.00.

SPOT Trace

The author’s boat is at home in its slip, and is visible on the Marine Traffic app.

Do you just need a security device to keep track of your boat’s location? The SPOT Trace™ Theft-Alert Tracking Device lets you keep track of your boat, aircraft, motorcycle or other vehicle. Like the Siren device, SPOT Trace sends you alerts on your phone, tablet or computer when it detects that your vehicle has moved. Because SPOT Trace is waterproof (rated IP67 submersible), you can mount it in exposed locations. There’s a subscription for this device too, with the Basic tracking plan starting at $14.99 per month.

Marine Traffic

If your boat has a Class A or B AIS transceiver onboard, there’s a free app called Marine Traffic (MarineTraffic.com) that shows your boat’s location. You just leave the AIS turned on and you can see where your boat is and be notified via email when it moves. This is a handy free app to share with your family and friends, and when you are out on the water they can go online and follow the progress of your voyage. This app only works when the vessel is in range of the AIS network, so it doesn’t work when you’re far offshore. For tracking, communication and emergency S.O.S. messaging, we have satellite-based devices like the SPOT gen3 and Garmin inReach Explorer+. See our West Advisor, Choosing a SEND Device, for more on satellite trackers.

Boat Special Featured This Week

Hi. James here. We have a motivated seller looking to move this boat. Please take a look and give me a call to schedule a sea trial or to discuss.

All-season Seaswirl Striper 2101 in very good condition

This is a great all-season Seaswirl Striper 2101 in very good condition. The dependable Yamaha 150 two-stroke (141 hrs) has been well cared for and the boat has been kept on a lift – no bottom paint. The cabin has all the original cushions and a porta-potti.

Includes a galvanized Venture trailer missing the fenders in decent condition, but delivered “as is”.

Be ready for fall Rockfish season!

Check out our full inventory of select vessels that are priced to sell!

Boat Special This Week-Featured Yacht

Hi. James here. We have a motivated seller looking to move this boat. Please take a look and give me a call to schedule a sea trial or to discuss.

This is an exceptional – original owner, professionally maintained, freshwater use – Silverton 34 Convertible with low hours is fully equipped and ready for cruising. Equipped with Crusader 6.0 MPI 370hp (450 hrs) inboard engines, Lowrance LCX-113 Radar/GPS, Raymarine Tri-data, windlass, spotlight w/remote, new sound system on the bridge and new bimini w/full canvas enclosure (both 2015).




Sportsman Boats boatmaker adding more space, 100 jobs in latest expansion

Sportsman Boats Manufacturing announced that it plans to create another 100 jobs and invest $3.5 million at its Dorchester County site to keep up with demand.

The company said it will be adding 70,000 square feet of production space to its Limbros Industrial Park site to accommodate growth in its upholstery, welding and fabrication operations.

 It expects its payroll to swell to about 370 workers, with hiring for the new openings already underway.

Sportsman Boats is headquartered on Isaac Way, off U.S. Highway 78, where it recently installed an 800-kilowatt rooftop solar power system as part of its sustainability efforts.

The company said it now makes 21 models of saltwater center-console fishing and bay boats ranging in length from 17 to 31 feet. They are now carried by about 50 dealers. The company also has started selling in the international market.

The S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved state tax credits that Sportsman Boats can apply for in the future, based on the number of jobs it creates under the new expansion.

The company was started with six employees in 2011 by two former founders of Sea Pro Boats in the Midlands and Key West Boats in Summerville who were itching to get back into the industry as sales started to bounce back from the recession.

Two years ago, Sportsman announced it would more than double the size of its plant by adding 116,000 square feet of space. The $3.5 million investment also called for the creation of 150 jobs.

 The company announced a smaller expansion in 2013.

“Sportsman Boats is proud to have roots here in South Carolina and Dorchester County, and we are excited about our continued growth,” said Tommy Hancock, co-founder and president.

The Summerville area is a longtime hub for boat makers, a lineup that includes Key West, Zodiac of North America and Scout.

The industry, which was hit hard by the last economic downturn, is now cruising along on a rising tide.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimated that sales of new powerboats climbed 6 percent to 7 percent to 250,000 units last year, a trend the trade group expects to continue through at least 2018.

“Economic indicators are working in the industry’s favor — a continuously improving housing market, strong consumer confidence, growing disposable income and consumer spending, and low interest rates all contribute to a healthy recreational boating market,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the association.

Sweet Ride

Renowned naval architect Lou Codega talks about sportfishing boat design trends.

It was the late 1980s, and Joan and Owen Maxwell were on a quest to find themselves. The couple were wandering around an Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when Owen had an idea.

“Let’s just build boats. That’s all I want to do,” he told Joan. “Maybe Albemarle still has one of the 21 molds. We can just work off that.”

This was the moment of conception, so to speak, for Regulator Marine, which today is one of the most respected names in the fishboat business.

Read More…

NMMA: New powerboat registrations rose 6.3 percent in 2016

The National Marine Manufacturers Association said advance data show that new powerboat registrations were up 6.3 percent last year and that nearly all segments were higher.

The NMMA said the tow boat, pontoon, saltwater fishing boat and personal watercraft segments had the highest rates of growth last year, up 11.8 percent, 9.2 percent, 7.9 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

Outboards boats were up 6.2 percent on a rolling 12-month basis and inboard boats were up 11.8 percent. Boats 27 feet and larger were up 10.7 percent through December on a rolling 12-month basis.

The NMMA said sterndrive boats continue to lag other categories; they were down 1.5 percent for the year, according to advance estimates.