Electrical Safety and Boats

In Perth our beautiful climate is very conducive to boat ownership. Larking around on the Swan River or cruising along the Perth coast is a popular pastime. Electrical safety and boats is not often thought about, however, if you own a boat and/or a dock, take steps now to help prevent a tragedy. 




Electrical safety and boats is similar, but not quite the same as electrical safety in the home. Just as in our homes, contact with live electricity can cause electric shock and (sometimes fatal) burns. Just as in our homes, electrical overloading or faulty/damaged connections can cause fires.

The unique risks associated with electrical safety and boats:

  • Continual contact with water-the perfect electrical conductor!

Try to keep the electrical wiring and equipment away from contact with water .Household wire is not suitable for use on boats as houses are motionless and generally dry. Even marine-rated wire that is not supported along its length will break with constant motion stress.
Do NOT use wire nuts or splice connectors! Wire nuts are for solid conductor wire, which should never be on a boat, and splice connectors cut wire strands.

  • The dock and the boat are both capable of leaking electricity into the water (causing water electrification).

Anyone swimming near the dock or swimming whilst the boat is launching or docking is at risk of electrocution.If you feel a tingle while swimming, the water may be electrified, get out of the water as soon as possible avoiding the use of metal objects such as ladders. Notify the owner of the property immediately, as this tingle is a sign that power to the facility should be turned off until a proper inspection has been completed.

  • Exposure to severe weather.
  • Boats often have two or more sources of 230 V power.
  • The metal masts (another great conductor of electricity). 

Always be observant and take note of overhead powerlines. Be aware of the risk of contact with overhead power lines. The masts and rigging of sailing boats may be higher than the power lines.

Because there are these unique risks ALWAYS use a trained marine electrician to install and service electrical items on your boat. It is also a good idea to have your boat electrics and electrical equipment checked by a licensed marine electrician at least annually. Boats should also be checked when something is added to or removed from their systems. Docks are continually exposed to the weather and once again their electrical systems should be checked annually.

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