My family loves to swim from our boat when we’re cruising Lake Erie. If my
boat’s generator is running, is there a risk of electric shock drowning (ESD)?
Ed Barko, Fairport Harbor, OH
BETH A. LEONARD: Given the risk of carbon monoxide posioning, we’d recommend
waiting until the swimming is over to run the generator. That said, as long as you’re not using
your generator to charge another boat’s batteries or run another boat’s equipment, the chances
of current leaking into the water while running a generator are an order of magnitude smaller
than when plugged in to shore power, but not completely nonexistent. Electricity always wants
to return to its source; in this case, the source is the boat. So if any electricity does get out of
the correct pathway, it should return to its source on the boat without traveling through the
water. The exception would be if there were an electrical fault on the boat and the bonding
system were not intact; it would then be possible to get current flowing between two underwater fittings. We recommend installing an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) on
the boat that will shut the current off if any of it is not returning along the correct pathway.
DON’T SCREW IT!
I’d like to install a swim platform on my Sea Pro center console, but can’t install washers or
backing plates on the transom thru-bolts. Could I use stainless screws instead of thru-bolts?
Would they pull out over time? Thomas Booth, Farnham, VA
JOHN ADEY: You’re correct to doubt the wood/lag-screw method of your install; it’s not
acceptable. My choice would be marine-use-specific blind fasteners by Garelick, made of stainless steel toggle bolts with zip ties attached. Drill through the transom and insert the bolt. A
plastic collar slides down the zip ties holding the toggle bolt in place. They come in 1/4-20 and
can be used in thicknesses up to 3 5/8 inches. Go to www.garelick.com and search “toggler”
for details. I have experience with these and highly recommend them. There will be a 1/2-inch
hole in your transom now, so seal it up well around the bolts with something like 3M 4200.
Check instructions. Where it calls for thru-bolting, you now have a solution.
PRACTICAL BOATER | ASK THE EXPERTS
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