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96 BOAT SAFETY/ON IRISH WATERS with Alison Alderton

Staying safe on your boat

This month Clive Penny of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners looks at electrical safety. NEARLY all boats have some form of electrical equipment on board. Anything from a single battery to start the engine to a fully equipped floating home will have some risks associated with them. Even the simplest of battery powered systems can present a risk of fire or explosion. When batteries are charged, hydrogen gas may be given off and this can, if ignited, cause a battery to explode. This is why some batteries and battery compartments need to be ventilated. Never disconnect any batteries while they are connected to any charging equipment, isolate first. Fire can be caused when any part of an electrical system overheats. The most common causes are loose or poorly made connections and overloaded circuits. Your nose and eyes can alert you to the signs that something may not be right. Never ignore any sights or smells that you are not familiar with. The 230v systems, or ‘mains’ as we sometimes call them, present their own issues. The Boat Safety Scheme offers the following advice:

What are the risks?

Just as in our homes, the use of 230v electrical power on boats brings the risks that: ● contact with live parts can cause electric shock and burns so serious they can be fatal ● electrical overloading or faulty connections can cause fires Some of the key points that make keeping safe on a boat different from when you are in a building include: ● contact with water ● the exposure to severe weather ● vibration and rough usage ● boats often have two or more sources of 230v power Taking these points into account, more care needs to be taken with 230v electricity on boats, including: ● avoiding water coming into contact with electric equipment or wiring ● ensuring the boat’s different sources of electric power − shore power cables, engine-driven alternators, inverters and installed or portable generators − are never connected to each other or to the same wiring at any time (usually only possible due to careless or incompetent electrical work). Using shore power cables responsibly and always ensuring that an effective earthing connection is made via the cable from the shore power socket to power inlet on the boat (and hence to the main earthing terminal of the boat’s electrical system).

Heat damage caused by a loose connection – what made this particular item even more dangerous was that it was located, inappropriately, at the bottom of a wardrobe where fabrics and dust could have come into contact with it. PHOTO: CLIVE PENNY ● This article is just an overview of some of the advice

available on the boat safety scheme website.

All of the articles from this series can be found on my website Your local member of the Association of Boat Safety Examiners can be found at and will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist in any way they can.

Shore power cables – is the cable safe to use?

Only use shore power cables designed and sold for use with boats. They should have the ‘CE’ marking on them or on their packaging/instruction sheet etc. Check the cable condition prior to each use and replace if it shows signs of damage; never repair it. If any cable strands are exposed, do not use the cable. If the inner wire coloured insulation is showing at any point, have the shore power cable repaired or replace it. Plug, socket and connector grips should always be tightened on to the outer insulation and not the inner wires – this can lead to the core breaking and the cable overheating.

Jellyfish found in lough’s dergand erne THE unusually warm summer with water temperatures exceeding 25ºC for prolonged periods is thought to be partly responsible for reported sightings of freshwater jellyfish. Angler Pat Joyce from Limerick first noticed the small jellyfish, about the size of a Euro coin, while fishing in Lough Derg and reported his findings to the Environment Protection Agency. This resulted in further investigations by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), Lough Derg Science Group and Dr Tom Doyle, a jellyfish expert from the Coastal &

Reacting immediately to early signs of electrical danger may save your life and your boat.

Use all your senses to weigh up continually if electrical safety is compromised. Act on what you find to keep you, your crew and persons around your boat safe. Never ignore danger signs like: ● burn marks at sockets, plugs, fuses or circuit-breakers ● heat damaged cables ● burning smells, sounds of arcing (buzzing or crackling) ● appliances that run at a temperature higher than seems right ● fuses or circuit-breakers blowing or ‘tripping’ repeatedly ● an RCD (residual current device) that trips and won’t reset ● a reversed polarity warning light on your consumer unit. Any electrical equipment showing warning signs like those above shouldn’t be used. Instead, isolate the power and seek competent help to remedy any defect.

Making the right choice could save your life Use a competent person to design, install and maintain your boat’s electrical systems and appliances, and to make any changes to them. A competent person is someone having the necessary knowledge, skill and experience needed to avoid electrical dangers to themselves and others. Seeking a BMET qualified fitter from a local boatyard will help with that choice. Choose to have your boat’s electrical system checked routinely – a boat’s 230v system can easily deteriorate in condition over time and use. Have the fixed wiring, consumer unit (fuse/circuitbreaker box), switches, sockets and appliances checked by a competent person at least once every three years. A competent person will help you be sure that: ● the earthing and bonding is effective and your boat’s electrical protective devices will work ● electrical circuits or equipment are not being overloaded ● any potential hidden electric shock risks or fire hazards are found and dealt with properly ● only suitable appliances and equipment are used aboard ● electrical appliances have the British or European safety mark ● replacement appliances are within the rated current load of the circuit ● replacement fuses or circuit-breakers are of the correct type and rating ● you check your boat’s electrical system as part of your boarding routine Check consumer units, cables and connections where they can be seen for signs of mechanical and heat damage.

A timely warning from a marine mechanic ON THE subject of electrical safety, we have also received the following warning from a mobile marine mechanic: “While attending a recently purchased craft in transit to her new mooring, we called at a reputable southern marina for assistance. Having established an alternator failure and very discharged batteries we decided to set up a shore powered battery charger. What could be easier, use the boat’s own shore power lead to provide power? “As I unplugged it from the after bulkhead of the craft, I found three male pins on the wandering lead; on investigation the vessel had been fitted

with an AC power outlet connection as opposed to an appliance input socket. The connecting lead was fitted with shore power plugs at both ends. Imagine the consequences had the lead been lying about live... it is not my wish to test the RCD devices the hard way.” He adds: “Keep safe, please check yours. It was my understanding that this craft had been used elsewhere as a live aboard for some time past, on permanent shore power supply. Perhaps all marina owners could walk round their moorers and check this occasionally. Needless to say the craft was immediately made safe.”

The small freshwater jelly fish found in the locks. PHOTO:TOM DOYLE,


Marine Research Centre, University College Cork, discovering small numbers of the jellyfish at three locations, Scarriff Harbour, Rossmore Harbour and Dromineer. Coming from a species known as Craspedacusta sowerbii originating from the Yangtze River Valley in China, it has a worldwide distribution yet this is the first official sighting of the species in Ireland. While the jellyfish is harmless to humans and appears to have no significant effect on the biology or ecology of the waters they are recorded in, its presence in Lough Derg and more recently, Lough Erne raises concerns about how the creature found its way into the country. One explanation could be from the ballast water of newly introduced craft which has resulted in IFI questioning the need for imported craft to carry certificates proving cleaning and disinfecting prior to arrival in the country. Blooms of freshwater jellyfish only occur sporadically, lasting just a few weeks a year so it is possible this creature may not be seen again for some time however, anyone spotting jellyfish in a freshwater course should immediately contact IFI at:

Barrow Way app and audio guide launched A NEW app and audio guide to the complete Barrow Way has been launched by Éanna Rowe, head of marketing communications, Waterways Ireland and Mary Mulvihill of Ingenious Ireland with special guest Dick Warner. The Highwayman’s chair, the amazing story of limbless Art MacMurrough Kavanagh, handsome Jack, the rake from Grangemellon and life on the river as a lock keeper’s son are just some of the 35 stories featured. This new guide from Ingenious Ireland and Waterways Ireland, enables everyone to enjoy the stories and discover the trail, as they explore the historic towns and villages, the wildlife and tranquillity all along gently meandering towpaths of the Barrow Valley. The free audio guide has two hours of stories, commentary and information, and is free to download. The full-featured app is richly illustrated, and includes a map, additional information and useful web links, and costs €2.69 (requires install of the free GuigiGO tour app). In addition to the audio guide, a comprehensive new visitor website has also been launched: The site covers

the full river valley, and is packed with information on places to stay, things to see and do, as well as events, restaurants, and places to hire bikes and boats along the river.

● Full details of the app and the free MP3 download are at

Waterways Ireland invests in Sallins moorings NEW houseboat moorings will be ready for the 2014 boat season following an investment by Waterways Ireland to upgrade its services on the Grand Canal in Sallins, Co Kildare. The contract has been awarded for the 210m moorings east of Sallins Bridge. They will have electricity, water, lighting and access to a sewage pumpout and rubbish disposal facilities. The canal bank will also be landscaped with pathways designed in accordance with Waterways Ireland ‘Access for All’ standards. These moorings will be open to application from permanent boat residents holding a Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (CMP). An area for 240m of extended mooring west of Sallins Bridge is also being prepared where boat owners already

Currently empty – the harbour at Sallins. PHOTO:WATERWAYS IRELAND in possession of a CMP will be able to apply for a one year mooring licence – an Extended Mooring Permit. A short term mooring for boats continuously cruising is also being installed east of Sallins Bridge. These moorings will have bollards providing water. Boaters wishing to move to the Extended Moorings in Sallins are advised to complete the application online on as soon as possible. Moorings will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Profile for Mortons Media Group Ltd

Towpath Talk - November 2013 - FULL ISSUE  

Towpath Talk, Issue 97, November 2013 - The UK's Number One read for all waterway users -

Towpath Talk - November 2013 - FULL ISSUE  

Towpath Talk, Issue 97, November 2013 - The UK's Number One read for all waterway users -

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