2010 Apr – Batteries & Electrical system

Nav station board
Nav station board


  • House bank batteries replaced
  • Engine starter battery replaced
  • Battery charger replaced
  • Shunt repositioned
  • “Amps in” dial replaced

When my boat was in Long Beach I took the boat out regularly and gave the engine a run under load, but this year I am up in the San Francisco Bay and the winters are wet, wet, wet so I found that I simply never walked thru the rain to the boat.  It just sat there at the dock, neglected and forlorn.

And it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  For months.  And months.  And months.

It April now and after the sun broke thru quite suddenly and brightly and I was off to the boat again.  I tried to fire up the engine but no joy.  I checked both battery banks, the house bank and the starter battery, and they looked charged according to my reading of the dials (I could be wrong), so I tried again to start the engine.  And again, nothing.  I tried cross-connecting the house and starter batteries with the combined effect of zero.  I shut the boat up and trudged back up the dock to my car.

The next time the weather cleared I met an electrician out at FastAlley.  He went over the electrical board, examined the batteries, checked the battery charger – and declared the whole lot dead.  The battery charger had failed and taken out the house set.  Or, he said, one of the batteries had shorted and blown the rest of the batteries as well as the charger.  Who knows.  All I did know for sure was that all 4 house batteries were fried, as well as the battery charger.

The 4 (dead) batteries in the boat are about $400+ each, which made me unhappy, however, I felt better when Duane said that the batteries were from 2003 and long past their useful life, and should be replaced anyway.  He said the life of a battery is at most 5 to 6 years so I had had good use out of them.  That only lessened the $-pain a little.

He asked when I was going cruising?  I said, Probably in 2 years.  He said that I really don’t need 4 deep cycle gel batteries while I am tied up to the dock and using shore power, and suggested that I buy just 2 house batteries, and a good engine starter battery.

New battery charger & shunt moved

New battery charger & shunt moved

Yesterday we met at the boat, with the 3 batteries, installed them, and turned on the engine.  It groaned and coughed and then started.  What a wonderful sound – I feel so lost when my engine won’t run because I won’t sail in or out of a slip in the trimaran.  I did that in my little 22ft Catalina but I won’t do that in this wide-bodied monster.

I ran the engine for about 45 minutes to fully charge the batteries.

Replacement $cost – the battery charger, batteries, shunt, dial

AC Charger, Xantrex TrueCharge,                        $280

1 EA Battery, 12V, Flooded, Group 24               $135

2 EA Battery, 12V, Flooded, Group 24              $216

Troubleshoot problems                                          $195

Replace charger+batteries                                    $130

Total, parts and labor $1,015

Still to do                                                                   $——

Probable total                                                      $1200

I hate it when I get a quote for $200 and then get a bill for $600.

Completed                                                                $ 600

ACTUAL TOTAL                                              $1615

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