Monday, March 24, 2014

Nighttime Cabin Lighting

Having spent a bit of time sailing at night I have always enjoyed having low level red lighting down below. The off-watch isn’t generally bothered by it and it provides enough illumination so that going below to check on navigation while standing watch or to get some coffee, switching on a light is avoided. A friend of mine had red, or courtesy lighting as some call it, throughout his Oyster 48 which I came to really appreciate on deliveries and a race to Bermuda and the trip back.

So, I figured since I was up to my elbows in re-wiring I’d go ahead and add a courtesy/red light circuit to Ronin. Although I have upgraded the distribution panel to handle future circuits I knew that I didn’t want to put the breaker and switch on the panel at the navigation station. I knew that the other thing that I would want was the ability to turn the lights on at the entry to the cabin.

I purchased 5 Hella Flush Mount LED lamps for around $180.00. Essentially these lamps: 

2310 Large

I calculated the total length of the circuits and ordered enough of more than adequate 18 AWG wiring for the job. I already had enough connectors and heat-shrink tubing for the job as I buy them in bulk. Along with the wiring order I purchased a Blue Sea Systems Contura rocker switch.

I designated one of the four 24-hour circuit breaker positions in the new battery management panel as the power source for the LED circuit. From there I ran a length of wiring up to the behind the distribution panels to a bus bar in order to split the circuits out to either side of the boat.

Even though I ordered five lights with the intention of putting two in the main cabin, opposite each other in the base of the port and starboard settee, after doing some quick lighting checks with them and a 12VDC battery at night I decided that one light was all that was needed. Red light overkill.

First light at base of companionway steps.

IMG 4225 JPG

Next light at the base of the starboard settee:

IMG 4234 JPG

IMG 4237 JPG

The third red light in the very important head basin:

IMG 3963

The final light installed in the forward cabin under the v-berth:

IMG 3961

After running the wiring and getting most of the connections made I turned to start working on the companionway switch placement. The perfect location was in the side of the "little teak storage thingy” that used to cover the old instruments and now houses the autopilot CPU. It’s located to port and up high in the cabin at the companionway entrance. Perfect location to able to open the hatches, push the hatch cover back and flip the switch on so that there is lighting below even though the master switch hasn’t been switched on yet.

Prepping for the switch:

IMG 4525

And here is the storage box installed with the courtesy light switch being dry-fit:

IMG 4532

Anyway, since the boat hasn’t moved in 5 years, the lighting circuit hasn’t been put to use yet. Like all the other upgrades on the list. Someday...