Electrical, AC Receptacles, Main Salon and V-Berth, Part 2: Wiring

The AC receptacle for the main salon, ready for final installation
The wiring for AC circuit 3, in other words, the AC receptacles in the main salon and the V-berth, was the most challenging of the three circuits that I wired for Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25. In this posting, I explain the steps I took to complete this task.

Unlike circuits 1 and 2, which were limited to the galley, and which contained only one receptacle each, circuit 3 spanned much of the boat and contained two separate receptacles in two separate locations. On account of this, the cable for this circuit had to be routed through numerous partitions and bulkheads.
Let's begin with the AC distribution panel in the cockpit locker. From this panel (here protected by a black plastic cover), I routed a gray conduit, with cables for circuit 2 and 3, down into the lazarette. In this space, I then routed the conduit to the starboard side of the boat.

Here, I ended the gray conduit, as the cable for circuit 2 (for the battery charger) went upward to the galley and the cable for circuit 3 (for the main salon and V-berth) went downward.
Having gotten the cable this far, I first had to route it underneath the sink. Pay no attention to the wires hanging down on the right side of the picture. These have nothing to do with this discussion.
I decided to keep the cable and conduit as high as possible. This would be safer, and it would keep the cable from cluttering this small storage space underneath the sink cabinet.
From this area under the sink, I routed the cable into the first of two starboard settee lockers. In the picture below, we are looking aft, toward the bulkhead which separates the sink cabinet from the settee.
In order to allow the cable to pass from the first settee locker into the next one, I had to drill a hole through the small plywood bulkhead between the two. Here, we are thus looking forward.
Once I got the cable into the second settee locker, I was close to the first AC receptacle that I had earlier temporarily installed.
Having earlier routed a second cable to the V-berth (a task which I will soon describe), the job before me now was to join both of these cables together to a single GFCI receptacle.
The wiring of this GFCI would require a little more effort than the wiring of those that I had installed in circuits 1 and 2 in the galley. Those circuits contained only a single receptacle. This circuit, however, contained two. Here, in the main salon, I would install a GFCI. In the V-berth, I would install a normal, three-prong receptacle. The purpose of the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt) receptacle, as I have explained elsewhere, is to interrupt the flow of current in the circuit, if the circuit is exposed to excessive moisture. In short, it's a device that helps to prevent you from getting electrocuted. It's for this reason that many building codes in many municipalities across the nation require construction contractors to install these devices in kitchens and bathrooms in houses and other structures. Normally, if there is more than one receptacle in a circuit, the GFCI goes first. It thus protects the other receptacles downstream.
The instructions that came with the GFCI and the instructions printed on the back of the GFCI itself made things pretty clear. First, I needed to join the two green wires (ground wires) together before joining them to the green screw on the receptacle. For circuits 1 and 2, I had used 10 AWG (American Wire Gauge) wire. For circuit 3, I was using 14 AWG, a smaller gauge wire, since I did not anticipate using heavy appliances on this circuit like the air conditioner and the battery charger I would use on circuits 1 and 2. I joined the two 14 AWG green wires together; I stripped both of them; and then inserted them into a 10-12 AWG heat-shrink butt connector. Both of these wires fit well into the connector, and I was able to get a good seal around them by applying heat. To the other end of the heat-shrink butt connector I joined a small piece of yellow, 10 AWG wire. Then I put a forked terminal on the end of the yellow wire and joined it to the receptacle.

Next, I had to remove the small plastic nubs that prevented me from installing forked terminals underneath the screws on either side of the receptacle.
As I said in my posting on the wiring of the GFCI in circuit 2, I believe that Leviton, the manufacturer of this GFCI, intended these plastic nubs to be an aid to the residential electrician, who would not use a forked terminal, but who would, instead, wrap a stripped wire around the screw
It was easy to remove the nub with the Dremel. I used the pointed fiberglass cutting tip (pictured bottom right).
I had temporarily run out of the forked heat-shrink terminals that I normally order from Genuinedealz / BestBoatWire. Therefore, I resorted to buying a small pack of forked terminals from a local West Marine. These Ancor brand terminals are overpriced, and being sold by West Marine they are even more overpriced. Nevertheless, I broke down and bought them, just because I was in a pinch.
The Ancor brand terminals did not contain adhesive lined heat-shrink. Therefore, I applied my own, after I had made the crimps.
In wiring any receptacle, especially a GFCI, and especially a GFCI that will control a normal AC receptacle downstream, it's important to get things right. The printed paper instructions that were provided with the GFCI and the redundant instructions on the back of the GFCI were a big help.
After I had joined all the wires to the terminals, it was simply a matter of putting the receptacle in the box.
The plastic protective plate brought this part of the project to a close.
I will now demonstrate the strategies I employed for the routing of the second AC cable from this box in the starboard side settee of the main salon to the box in the portside alcove box in the V-berth.
I needed to get that cable from the starboard settee up to the starboard alcove box in the main salon. The only way this was possible, as I saw it, was to route the cable up the back of the settee, and then out the top of the settee back. This meant I needed to drill some holes.
In drilling the first hole, the one that would be visible, I made sure to use a brad point drill bit, and I made sure to begin the drill with the motor set to Reverse. I always use this technique when drilling into gelcoat, as it reduces the likelihood of chipping.
I was a little less cautious when drilling the second hole, i.e., the one that would lead downward into the settee proper. I should note that unless you've made the modifications that I have made to the settee backrest of Oystercatcher, this would not be possible at all. I had earlier cut out parts of the settee backrest to open up this additional storage space. I had also epoxied fiberglass cloth into the bottom of this space, so that items stowed in this space would not slip down into the settee. Yes, there used to be a small gap between the hull and the settee backrest. You can tell, in the picture below, where the gap used to be.
Next, I needed to drill a hole upward into the bottom of the alcove box. Given the confines of this workspace, I had to use my Milwaukee Tools right angle attachment for this job. As I have said many times in many different postings, this tool and the Dremel (and its right angle attachment) were essential in the refitting of this boat. Note that I used a paddle bit. These types of bits also do a good job a reducing the chipping of gelcoat, especially if you begin in Reverse.
In the rewiring of Oystercatcher, I often found it much easier to install the split-loom conduit on the cable prior to, rather than after, feeding it through holes.
In the picture below, we see the cable and conduit routed upwards, out of the settee and into the settee backrest. The off-white color you see (top right) is the fiberglass cloth that I had installed to fill the gap between the settee backrest and the hull.
Prior to routing this cable and conduit upwards into the settee backrest storage space I installed hull cloth. I had ordered this cloth from Sailrite, and I had glued it in place with 3M General Trim Adhesive. For more on this, see my article, "Settee Backrest Stowage."
As far as the main salon was concerned, I decided to affix the conduit to the bulkhead. This way, the mahogany would make the black color of the conduit less conspicuous.
Once I had gotten the cable into the alcove box, I could begin routing it forward, through the other alcove boxes in the other parts of the boat. In the picture below, we see the alcove box as it appears in the head. Routed along the top is the black conduit containing the AC cable. This picture shows this space at the end of the process, when everything was neatly tucked away. I did not, of course, put these cable hangers on the AC conduit until I was close to the end of the job.
The picture below likewise shows the end of the process. We are in the V-berth and we're facing aft, looking into the alcove box at the various conduits that are passing through the bulkhead between the head and the V-berth. I ended all of these conduits exactly where you see them. I then ran the wires uncovered from that point forward. The white that you see is the AC cable.
Here, in a flashback of sorts, we get a glimpse of the wire routing process, in all its seeming craziness. I have pulled the white AC cable all the way up to the chain locker. Drooping out of the forward cutout for the alcove box is a bundle of DC wires, their ends taped together with black electrical tape. I had to wrestle with all of this at the same time. For specifics, see my articles on the DC branch circuits.
In the routing of all of these wires, I left the AC cable stubbed out, as you see. That way, I could come back and install the receptacle whenever I got the time.
After stripping the individual 14 gauge wires, I terminated them with the Ancor brand forked terminals, and I applied the necessary heat-shrink tubing. Notice that I did all of this work with the wires outside of the box.
After I was finished, I carefully inserted them into the factory-made portal in the back of the box. You'll notice in the picture below that there is very little wire to work with. The problem was that I cut the cable just a little too short, and did not, thus, leave myself very much of a service loop. How did this happen? You saw the mess, right? Before I cut the cable, I made my best estimate for the length I needed. I actually thought that I left myself about 12 inches more than I needed (beyond what I would need for a service loop). By the time I hung this AC cable, however, I had used up more of it than I had anticipated. Fortunately, I had enough to complete the job.
The receptacle that I used here, at the end of circuit, was, as I've said before, a normal, three-prong AC receptacle.
I chose black, because the DC receptacle was black, as well as the terminal block and conduit above it.
Despite the size of the electrical box, there was still plenty of room underneath it for someone to get a hand back in that space to retrieve anything that might slide back there into it.
I was quite pleased with the final appearance of the receptacle, and I was glad that I had taken the time to extend the AC power into the V-berth. Now I could charge my Waypoint LED spotlight, or I could use a power tool in the V-berth without having to run an extension cord from the galley or main salon.
This ends this posting on how I wired the AC receptacles in the main salon and the V-berth of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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