Letters – by Our Readers


Ahoy Capt. Carson,

I read with interest your December article about shore power, GFCI’s, ELCI’s, GFD’s and isolation transformers. My boat is a 1980 Newport Sloop I purchased in 2016.

I distrust shore power, mainly (but not solely) on account of fear of galvanic corrosion, and so have never connected to it. Instead, in the first year of ownership, I installed 180 watts of solar panels and a solar controller to maintain my two lead-acid Group 24 batteries that serve as both a house bank and starting batteries for our 16-hp diesel auxiliary. This system has served us well and has not let us down in eight years of service – and, I presume, keeps us completely safe from ESD emanating from our own boat in the event of accidental immersion. Of course, our electrical demands are minimal: the usual navigation electronics, VHF radio, autopilot use, all LED lighting, manual head and freshwater system, solar fan for ventilation and a 1000-watt inverter for occasional use of AC appliances.

We have done multiple overnights with no auxiliary starting issues, our main consumer of juice. If you have any comments safety-wise or otherwise about this system, I’d be happy to hear them.

Kindest regards,
Bill Crowley
Erewhon, Newport 30


I am certainly impressed that you can be comfortable with such low power consumption. No shore power and only two group 24 batteries that provide approximately 160 Ahr of capacity is admirable. However, no way I could do that. I want my 240 VAC either from shore or generator and my 1,000 Ahr capacity of battery energy to power all of the AC and DC electrical devices on the boat, even at the same time if desired.

Experience would tell you if your energy sources are the right size for your use. A hundred and eighty watt solar to charge the two group 24’s seems right and should be able to keep them topped up on a bright sunny day.

I understand your hesitancy of connecting to marina shore power but there are easy ways to mitigate the potential downsides of doing so. You also did not mention the marina in which you berth. This may be an important consideration as many of our Bay and Delta marinas have already upgraded their electrical systems and now include ground fault detection devices and provide clean and safe power to their berthers. A simple low-cost solution is to install a galvanic isolator wired in series with the vessel’s AC grounding wire. These devices are relatively inexpensive and will isolate your vessel’s ground by eliminating the galvanic path and will go a long way to protecting your vessel’s underwater metals and extending the life of your sacrificial anodes. For the best protection and isolation, the use of an isolation transformer is the ideal solution. In the past we did not see these often on vessels under 40 feet mainly because of the large size and weight. However, modern high frequency switch mode transformers are appropriate for the smaller vessels as they are lightweight, diminutive in size and have the same features of the larger iron transformers.

Keep in mind that the potential for ESD, Electric Shock Drowning can come from not only other vessels or shore power but from your vessel as well. Although modern inverters are designed to be failsafe, it is possible that AC appliance failure or miswiring can cause lethal currents. The current ABYC standards only require ELCI on the shore power source and not on ships’ power sources such as an inverter or generator. That will most likely change since ISO, International Standards Organization, requires this protection on ships’ sources of AC power.

Thank you for being a reader of the Bay & Delta Yachtsman and taking the time to write. Happy sailing.



Thanks for the articles about iceboating. Iceboating caught my attention back in the 60’s. Our family had a camp on Lake Bomoseen in Vermont. Even though the camp was not winterized, a few winter overnights were accomplished. The frozen lake was awesome and noisy at times (due to ice expansion.) I read about the DN iceboats, possibly while reading Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. There was no iceboat community at Lake Bomoseen or near any of the other places I loved in VT and NH. I do remember the first time I saw an iceboat. I was driving through Adirondack Park during the winter and the iceboat looked magical ghosting along.

Thanks to your story, I understand what it takes to support an active iceboat community. I can appreciate the comment about searching all the nearby lakes to find good ice and getting everyone out.

I can appreciate the “Whoosh!”

Gosh, it put a smile on my face. Our local lake, Lake Isabella does not freeze so thanks for filling in my armchair adventure. There is land sailing within a few hundred miles. That may be my local fast sailing off the water option.

Ants Uiga
Bodfish, CA

Dear Mr. Uiga,

Thank you for your letter. We love to hear from readers, and I am guessing, from your fine eye for detail, that you are a sailor. If I am not mistaken, you are the fella responsible for the creation of the Three Bridge Fiasco. Thank you for that, too. If you come up from wherever the heck Bodfish is, let’s go sailing together.


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