Small boat cabin wiring

by Stuart Warden
(Cape Town, South Africa)

I am building a wooden cabin onto an existing 19' day sailer.

I now need to consider internal wiring for lights, equipment etc.

I've seen a few small boats and realise wiring is often not an issue and in many cases, an afterthought.

Wiring is often done any old way using a combination of two core flex, power cord, single strand etc. I would like to formalise the following questions:

1) What type of wiring should one use i.e. all the same for lighting, pumps, radio equipment, solar panels etc., obviosuly within the current ratings - assuming one uses 12 V DC.

2) Should wiring be done behind panels (e.g. plywood or tongue and groove) etc., or preferably neatly on the surface along corners etc.?

3) Should one opt for plastic tubing to draw wires through?

4) In South Africa, we have 2+1 flat surface wiring cables (AC) for domestic wiring, would this be an option to use as it is quite robust?

5) Somewhere I saw tinned multistrand wire, quite interesting for marine use - Oh, I think used in a rowing boat for speakers. I have made enquiries and this is not available.

Thank you.

Comments for Small boat cabin wiring

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Aug 15, 2015
boat wiring
by: lawrence

Use marine grade stranded wire for all your boat's wiring.

All wiring should be protected via a fuse or breaker.

Oct 09, 2011
Electrics a Hassle?
by: Mike

Excellent advice there from Ben.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual

I'm a complete nonce when it comes to electrics yet I manage to completely
re-wire my boat using Nigel Caulder's book.

I also agree with Ben's comment "Also I might skip wiring such a small
boat for electrical, and just use camping lights to avoid the hassle."

Even though I managed to rewire the boat and surprise, surprise, it
works, I still find it more convenient in the long run to use the
electrics as little as possible.

And I have an inboard engine to charge the batteries.

My main cabin lighting is provided by a Coleman dual fuel lamp, and in
all the nooks and crannies I have those cheap stick-on battery powered
LED lights.

My GPS is a battery powered hand held and if I was starting over I
would probably forego the fixed VHF radio and just have the hand held.
Coleman Lamp

Oct 08, 2011
Electrical Guide
by: Ben

Look to Nigel Caulder's Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Guide for such things.

Also I might skip wiring such a small boat for electrical, and just use camping lights to avoid the hassle.






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