Sep 27, 2001

The wiring for my mast goes through the deck with no connector or clamshell 
whatsoever.  Just inside at the ceiling of the head the wires are spliced 
with cheap butt connectors.  These are corroded by rainwater that has 
ingressed through the non-sealed hole.  I am considering installing a cannon 
plug at the deck.  Would this be the best way, or should I install a clam 
shell and caulk it?

Sep 27, 2001
I gave a lot of thought to this problem, as I inherited not one, but three thru-deck connections, one for the VHF coaxial, the two others leaking: The original missed its threaded cap, the wires just crowded in with silicone, a pain and a mess to remove and badly clean/recaulk (probable leak cause) at each disconnect/reconnect. The smaller one was a jury-afterthought due to added wires (eg, wind force and direction sensor) which could not fit in the original fitting.

Casting for consolidating ideas, I opted for a hose and clamps system: a thick reinforced transparent plastic hose clamped on two fittings, hence easily dismountable when lifting the mast off (and changeable at that time if damaged by hook or sun), by simply disconnecting all wires at the junction box below (in the shower room, one more reason not to shower in that room but on deck, or in the cockpit via the kitchen tap).

A conventional 90 degree Zamag stanchion base fits nicely on the mast, and its nipple accomodates the hose which curves elegantly over the block and halyards running on deck to the cockpit, then fits nicely over the old capless deck fitting. The hose contains all wires, and the coaxial can pass as well, including its thicker half coupling as long as I pass it first, before the electric cables. That half-coupling is the original one. A new no-solder coupling was simply crimped on the under deck end of the coaxial. No soldering !

More importantly, no more leaks, and easy quick mast removal. I keep an extra clamp between the two working ones, so that I can quickly smooth out any buckling crimp appearing on the hose, or for quick add-on if one of the working clamps were to fail.

If you go that way, present you hose and stanchion base (bases, if you can't reuse the old deck fitting) to ascertain that there are no interfence: in my case, essentially the forestaysail and mainsail halyards which are led to the cockpit, with room for one more just in case. The hole of the stanchion base at the mast was straddling the two existing rubbered cable passages, so I just rivetted a well caulked, pre-formed aluminum cover plate, pre-drilled for the new wire passage, before bolting the stanchion base. Et voila!

Mast wire disconnecting is now a brise. I have had no condensation visible in the hose. (That may change with the advent of colder weather, since I sail through November.)

Sep 27, 2001

We have a wire which protrudes through the coach roof at the 5 o'clock
position a few inches aft of the main mast.  A small teak box with a
screw on cover keeps rain water out of the box and inside is a quick
disconnect so the mast can be unstepped at any time for maintenance. Also
inside the box is a terminal block for the spreader lights and
annemometer that are mounted on the mast, All that's needed is a
screwdriver to remove the lid, and unscrew the terminals and your ready
to remove mast.

Sep 27, 2001
The reason I have a hose instead of one wire is that I have 10 wires (5 pairs: wind sensor, spreader lights, masthead anchor light, masthead running lights, strobe light) plus the VHF antenna coaxial. The hose and clamps plus base stanchion(s) with the junction box/terminals easily accessible under deck, seems drier, and certainly simpler and cheaper to make and install, than a teak box with two cable penetrations, bottom and top plus may be a hidden interface: box bottom with deck. It also remains quick disconnect.

Sep 28, 2001
While spending some time with Bert today I snapped a picture or two of his mast wiring solution.

I hope this helps to better visualize his comments

Pianissimo mast wiring fwd

Pianissimo, mast wiring boot, aft

Sep 30, 2001

What I did to solve my through deck wiring and any future wires going
through deck was this. I purchased a one foot piece of  1 1/4" stainless
steel (ss) pipe, two 90 degree elbows and at work I was able to obtain some
1/8" thick ss plate.

I welded the two 90 degree elbows back to back  and then welded this to the
pipe which basically makes a sink trap. I cut and drilled the 1/8" plate
(looks like a flat doughnut) so to fit over the outside diameter of the pipe
then welded to the pipe. I left about 3/4" of plate to through bolt to the
deck. When fabrication was complete I drilled a hole through the deck into
the head area to accept the pipe. Inserted the straight pipe through the
deck with plenty of silicone and through bolted.

I now have enough room to run multiple wires inaddition to the coax cable.
Before I make the jump to the big pond, I plan to have something handy to
fill the remaining portion of the pipe so as not to take water through the
pipe.

I got this idea out of cruising world when they did a boat review.

Sep 30, 2001
I too have apparently arrived at the same conclusion as Rick.

On Sea Quill I welded mitered, stainless tubing sections into a sort of square candy cane. The "sea tube" as it has been referred to is also welded to a base and then screwed to the deck but mine is mounted upon a teak block.

The arrangement has worked well and far superior to the original thru-deck fittings from Perko.

Oct 1, 2001
 
Thank you for your concern and attentiveness.  I did see the pictures.  With 
regard to a stainless tube, but I wonder about the problem of galvanic 
corrosion where the stainless meets the mast.  Did you use a plastic hose or 
fitting between the tube and mast?

Since I will be upgrading my electrical system, I have been thinking about 
the location and the upgrading of my breaker panels.  By recommendation of a 
local technician, I will probably go with a couple Blue Sea panels, one for 
DC and one for AC.  Each will probable have volt and ammeters.  I might 
leave them in the traditional spot, and build an enclosure with a plexiglass 
panel for protection, since access to the wiring would be relatively easy.  
Although I like your arrangemnet at the Nav station which is quite logical, 
I am partial to using that area for storage of miscellaneous items.  
However, none of this is written in stone, and I am open to your comments 
and suggestions.

Oct 1, 2001
If you want to avoid corrosion, the Zamag stanchion base works well on the aluminum mast or cover plate, and the only SS is the two or 3 clamps on the reinforced plastic hose, as prsented in Paul's pictures. ther is also a lot less work involved, with no welding, and parts are on shelf. Have fun.

Nov 19, 2001
I currently have no functioning lights on my mast despite a verified power to two of the four wires leading up the mast. In the course of the collective experiences of SW II members, have you found faults with any of the factory-installed light fixtures that would warrant their replacement by another make?

Nov 19, 2001
I would concur with Bert's observation regarding upgrading the masthead to a tricolor/strobe. I have no information to help decide if in fact LED has become more reliable or not in the past few years.

I will however recommend that the wiring be replaced. The wires I found inside my mast were seriously deteriorated when she was only 16 years old. I have re-wired once since then. However as I fitted all halyards internally, the wiring change the second time around was done to improve a few things.

1. The wires slapped inside the mast, particularly at anchor in the slightest of rolls.

2. They would prove to become a hazard and hindrance to the movement of the new, internal halyards.

To correct both conditions I was to send a 3/4" PVC pipe chase the full length. It was secured to the inside about every two feet by drilling two small holes through the extrusion and a stainless wire used as a snake to draw a narrow stainless band through the holes and over the PVC. The ends of the band were then riveted to the mast in order to secure the PVC inside firmly. The PVC had been measured carefully to insure that cutting a separate escape route for the spreader lamps and the steaming (bow) lights wiring. It takes a day or two with the mast on two saw horses to install the chase, make the harness, design up a protocol for the logical steps and draw sufficient extra wire out to service the various circuits. The results have been very successful and within the chase I have left two messenger lines in case replacement wires should be required. The messengers may be attached to the new wires and drawn through the chase without unstepping the mast again.

Nov 19, 2001

Been very satisfied with factory installed system. However, I would
suggest that as a rule the ground wire could be suspect or a bulb is
blown. Try doing a continuity check to determine if the bulb is good and
if so, then go check the ground wires for corrosion. Another possibility
is where the wire has a deck connection.

Nov 26, 2001
Sometimes there will be a junction block with DC wiring and generally corrosive activity takes place at these junctions. As you follow the wires path look carefully at these connectors as a small amount of corrosion can stop the small DC voltage flat.

Nov 26, 2001
As I recall the very small size screws that hold those square plates in place permit little corrosive action before the tops break off. Likely the only way to remove them is to use a small tool similar to a dental tool and slowly extract it by cutting around the diameter and then use a small needle nose plier to remove it turning it as you would a screw. Next select a slightly larger screw to replace it with so there is more metal for the salt water to work on, or use a sealant to keep the plate in place.

Niko #91

 

1515 Feb 11, 2002

I noticed that Ancor offers a five conductor mast wiring cable. One of my mast wires is light green and which I accidentally found to be a ground. What do the codes refer to (assuming that there is a standard code for sailboat mast lighting)? The colors in the Ancor cable are black, blue, green, red and white.

James, Niko 91

1984 Jul 19, 2002

Quite some time ago I discussed mast wiring through the deck using stanchion fittings on the cabin top as well as the mast itself. I will probably go with 12 AWG paired wiring for the lights. What would be a safe hole size to drill in the mast and what placement would one recommend?

James Self, Niko (91)

2006 Aug 1, 2002

My wires were coming out of the mast at 4 o’clock on stbd side, and were led into a thru-plug with a screwed cap, which was leaking. The VHF coaxial was separate, connecting to a special thruplug on both sides, also leaking. I wanted to have a tight system that would be easily dismantled when unmasting.

The two holes were covering too wide an area, so I used a doubling plate to cover them and blind the smaller one, plus a Zamag stanchion base. Both coaxial and wires are led through it and through a reinforced plastic hose, clamped on both the stanchion base and the largest plug. The corroded cover was discarded, and the coaxial plug/connector was siliconed tight (the screwed connection is now made up underdeck).

A couple of additional clamps were inserted on the hose, as standby spares but also to prevent excessive buckling of the hose which is bent at a relatively low radius.

One year offshore and two coastal years later have seen no leaks. The unmasting is much simplified: disconnect wires and coaxial under deck, unclamp the deck side and pull the wires.

Teh original idea came up in a discussion with Paul Muenzinger, Brewer’s Post Road Yard manager.

Bert dF, Pianissimo 80K

2006 Aug 1, 2002

My wires were coming out of the mast at 4 o’clock on stbd side, and were led into a thru-plug with a screwed cap, which was leaking. The VHF coaxial was separate, connecting to a special thruplug on both sides, also leaking. I wanted to have a tight system that would be easily dismantled when unmasting.

The two holes were covering too wide an area, so I used a doubling plate to cover them and blind the smaller one, plus a Zamag stanchion base. Both coaxial and wires are led through it and through a reinforced plastic hose, clamped on both the stanchion base and the largest plug. The corroded cover was discarded, and the coaxial plug/connector was siliconed tight (the screwed connection is now made up underdeck).

A couple of additional clamps were inserted on the hose, as standby spares but also to prevent excessive buckling of the hose which is bent at a relatively low radius.

One year offshore and two coastal years later have seen no leaks. The unmasting is much simplified: disconnect wires and coaxial under deck, unclamp the deck side and pull the wires.

Teh original idea came up in a discussion with Paul Muenzinger, Brewer’s Post Road Yard manager.

Bert dF, Pianissimo 80K