Detailed Account of Man Who Survived 438 Days Adrift

Clark November 12th, 2015

When this story first came out there was some skepticism in the press because the guy looked too healthy. Now his story has been corroborated and confirmed, and he indeed survived 438 days in a panga, drifting from Mexico to an atoll in the Marshall Islands. A professional fisherman, adrift in a fishing boat, might have found some way to survive at sea, but his crew didn’t fare so well. The story is both sad and inspiring.

Writer Jonathan Franklin has turned José Salvador Alvarenga’s account into a book, an excerpt of which is printed here, in The Guardian.

Problems Solved: Diaphragm Bilge Pump Installation

Clark November 9th, 2015

I practiced what I preached, and finally installed a diaphragm bilge pump to improve the situation in my deep and creepy bilge. I wrote about this in my bilge pump opus, All About Bilge Pumps.

The principle at play here is that the bilge pump that keeps your bilge dry may not be the same bilge pump that keeps you from sinking: Centrifugal bilge pumps, the workhorses of the bilge pump world, can’t pump all the water out and always leave an inch or more behind. To really get the water level down you need a diaphragm pump attached to a strum box (intake strainer), and with this arrangement you can get it down to a quarter inch deep. Add a check valve and you can keep the water from flooding back down the hose after pumping. Aside from getting down there with a sponge, this is about the best you can do at keeping your bilges dry.

My bilge has the added complication of being deep and narrow, so narrow that a centrifugal can’t sit on the bottom. The centrifugal pump sat about 8 inches off the bottom, and this 8 inches usually contained a deadly emulsion of sea water, diesel, dead ship’s rat, and some substance that resembled dirty margarine when I sucked it into the shop vac. I also found all manner of hardware and tools that had been lurking down there. It’s hard to capture deep dark places in a photo, but here it is:
On the left is my new intake. On the right is my Aqualarm Smart Switch. The bilge is too deep to reach the bottom. If I lie on the floor of the engine room, with an engine mount stabbing me in the ribs, I can only reach to about a foot above the bottom, so it’s about 4 feet deep.

I installed the Johnson Viking Power 16, which I liked even more once I got it home and started futzing with it.
It turns out the pump and motor can be reoriented any which way, so I was able to make it fit in the best place with the hose connections on the most convenient side, and still keep the electric motor above the wet end of the pump. The plumbing connections were straightforward, with the outflow going overboard through my existing thru-hull, and about a 5-foot run straight down to the bottom of the bilge for the intake. Because of the odd, narrowing shape of my bilge, a standard strum box wouldn’t even fit, so I made this custom intake out of a bronze cap and an NPT to hose barb fitting:

I know this homemade intake strainer will be prone to clogging, but this is just the pump to keep my bilge dry, not the pump to keep my boat from sinking. For that purpose I’ve got a 3700 GPH centrifugal pump, which sits outside this sump.

While I was at it I figured I’d replace the hoses, both to this new diaphragm pump and to the manual pump, whose plumbing runs alongside it. There was some old fiberglass heat shield stuff wrapped around the two hoses, which I removed, to reveal this:

Both hoses had been badly melted, though not ruptured, by the heat. But wait, they weren’t near anything hot anymore, because I replaced the standpipe exhaust with a wet exhaust….in 1997. This means I sailed around the world for ten years with most of my bilge pumping happening through those pathetic, nearly completely occluded, melted hoses. Lucky I didn’t sink, and here I am giving other people advice about bilge pump systems. Ahem.

I also practiced what I preached with wiring, and ran the bilge wiring to a terminal strip inside a waterproof plastic box. Actually, I’d done this a few months ago as part of my engine room re-wiring job, so to add the diaphragm pump I just had to screw and unscrew well-labeled wires from the terminal strip, where everything will stay dry and electrically sound.

These Cantex plastic electrical boxes are about $5 at Home Depot, and I use them all over the place with appropriate watertight fittings. For marine use you’ll want to replace the screws that come with them with stainless, and a step drill bit is the right tool for drilling clean holes through plastic.

All this wiring leads to my Aqualarm bilge pump monitor console (on left side of panel), which, combined with the Aqualarm Smart Switch will get you to Bilge Pump Nirvana.

The Real Deal: Tom and KARAKA, and you can go too.

Clark October 20th, 2015

For anyone who whines about the cost of cruising, Tom’s story is inspirational, and perhaps instructional.

First expense, a 52-foot steel ketch, $1.

What was that? Yes, Tom saved this ketch from a trip to the scrapyard, which was just days away. He found her in Hong Kong in 2004, looking neglected, with a notice on her side for removal. He tracked down the owners and they agreed to let him have her for a symbolic dollar.

I know several people who have bought $1 boats, before I could tell them “Noooo! Don’t do it!” Tom was the former First Mate and later Captain of the 100-foot schooner RANGER, and knew he’d spotted a diamond in the rough. Many months, many thousands of dollars, much lost skin, and some severe burns later, Tom renamed her KARAKA, after the town in New Zealand where she was built, and she was ready to sail again. Since 2004 Tom has sailed her everywhere, with a revolving cast of characters, musical instruments, and a cat.

You can peruse Tom’s website (, but will soon be moving to or his Facebook page to see how the alternative lifestyle is meant to be lived.

I met Tom when we were both hired guns on the Clipperton Project, a quasi-scientific expedition to Clipperton Island, 700 miles off the Mexican coast. We sailed back from Clipperton to Cabo San Lucas on Island Seeker, a Downeast 32:
Frank, Island Seeker’s owner, on left; Tom in the middle; David on right; I’m taking photo

Over eight days Tom proved a very agreeable shipmate, and a good sailor. I’d sail anywhere with him. I woke up for my sunrise watch on the second or third day to find Tom grinning in the cockpit, and not touching the wheel. The boat had no self steering, and during the night Tom had figured out how to balance the rig just so, and she sailed herself. The banter between Frank, a Texan, and Tom, a Frenchman, was never dull.

So how does Tom do it financially, after over ten years without a real job? That revolving cast of characters? He charges them, but not much. His going rate is about $125 Euros per week, not including food and booze, but from the photos it looks like they catch lots of fish. And of course it’s expected that everyone work hard to keep Karaka running smoothly, which may mean chipping rust, grinding steel, cleaning fish, or stitching sails.

Did I mention that he plays the accordion?

If you think you’ve got what it takes to go gallivanting across the high seas with an accordion-playing Frenchman, Tom is currently accepting applications for his next leg across the South Pacific, from French Polynesia to Kiribati, Micronesia, and the Philippines, approximately six months. There is more information on his website about costs, expectations, and paperwork. Tom’s email address is


Party Boat Mishap

Clark September 22nd, 2015

This video has been bouncing around Facebook, and the more times I watch it the more bizarre it gets. For example:

1. It appears that many of the people falling off the foredeck are naked, or at least the first guy is.
2. A man jumps from the bridge just after the people fall in, apparently to help people in the water. He appears to be wearing swim fins? Did he just happen to be wearing fins at the time?
3. There are screams and there is laughter and the footage is kind of grainy. It might be a “Funny party boat crash” or some of those people could have been really hurt.
4. Obviously the boat was dangerously overloaded, but it didn’t look that bad for a cruise on flat water: maybe 6-8 people on the foredeck and a few extra on the bridge? Why did it roll like that?
5. The deep roll either killed the engine or knocked the helmsman out, because the boat sort of coasts off into a gentle crash with the dock. If someone had still been at the helm I’d think they would have put it in reverse.

I think…

Tesla’s Powerwall on a boat?

Clark September 17th, 2015

This summer Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, a battery large enough to power an average home with a solar system, and give this home independence from the grid. Elon Musk’s announcement was met with giddy excitement, and the batteries are already sold out for the foreseeable future.

I wonder how long before a Powerwall finds its way onto a boat? Tick, tick, tick.

Crunching the numbers, it may not make economic sense yet, but the price may come down in a few years. The Powerwall, the 7 kWh version, sells for $3000. The slightly larger 10 kWh Powerpack sells for $3500. If we compare these to a size 8D battery (generally the largest size, and common on boats), here’s how it stacks up.

8D battery:

An 8D holds about 3 kWh (kilowatt hours). You can buy an 8D battery for as little as $230, but for our purposes we’ll compare a top quality AGM 8D battery, say from Lifeline or Trojan, which sells for $650-$700. So in pure kilowatt hour terms, the Tesla battery costs about 40% more. You’d need three 8D batteries (a common arrangement, and what I’ve got on my boat) at about $2100 to supply to same number of kilowatt hours as the Tesla Powerpack at $3500.

But wait! With the lead-acid batteries we normally follow the 50% rule, meaning we only use 50% of the battery’s capacity. Tesla doesn’t expressly say this, but since the Powerwall/Powerpack is a lithium-ion battery I’m guessing it can cycle through it’s entire capacity without damage. This alone might make up for the difference in price. Also, lithium-ion batteries can take a charge must faster than lead-acid batteries. The Tesla also comes with a 10-year warranty, and I don’t know of too many marine batteries that see ten years.

The Tesla is WAY cheaper than other quality lithium-ion batteries of similar capacities.

The voltage on the Tesla batteries is stated as 350-450 Volts DC (huh?) so there would have to be some kind of DC to DC step-down converter. I can’t find much information on these, and they don’t seem to be common, but we can assume this will get expensive…and be one more device aboard that can fail.

Another advantage of the Tesla is that it’s lighter at 220 pounds. A single 8D weighs about 160 pounds, so the Tesla would be about half the weight for the same capacity. The Tesla is a big, flat battery at 51″H x 34″W x 7″ deep, so it might lend itself well to fitting under a bunk or mounting in the back of a locker. It’s meant to mount on a wall (duh) and it’s all sexy-looking, so maybe it could just mount in plain sight on a bulkhead.

It’s a deep cycle battery, so I have no idea how it would do for starting loads. Might have to have a starting battery too, which would provide some redundancy.

At the moment I’m going to say it’s a bit premature, especially with regard to stepping down the voltage, but the Tesla batteries are a VERY interesting prospect for powering a boat.

Sailing Was More Than Respite for Roosevelt and Kennedy, from NY Times

Clark September 14th, 2015


Full article here.

New Steering Wheel Adventure: Part 3

Clark August 3rd, 2015

After many deviations, diversions, and delays, the steering wheel project is finally finished (see part 1 and part 2). What started as buying a new steering wheel on Ebay turned into rebuilding the entire teak console, re-wiring much of the boat, servicing and adjusting much of the steering system (installation of the new wheel changed the geometry of things just a tad), building a new instrument panel, and all new senders on the engine to go with the new instruments.

I’ve blogged about instruments, senders, and instrument panels before (see Gauge of Confusion), but now we’ll go in a little deeper.

The fist thing to keep in mind is that the instrument panels from the engine manufacturers are often a rip off. You can build your own using better components for much less. More importantly, it will be exactly the way you want it. People are figuring this out, and aftermarket panels for various engines are all over the Internet.

I built mine with idiot lights, analogue gauges, a bilge monitor console, and seven fused switches to control other stuff for about $275, but I kept a few of my old instruments. In my case it’s a very customized shape and size for my boat, and I wanted to cram a lot of stuff into the this small piece of real estate:

The next thing to keep in mind is the material of the panel: Never, under any circumstances, try to make it out of anything thicker than 1/4-inch. Switches, gauges, lights, etc. are all built for thin panels, and if you have something thicker you’ll be in for a lot of frustration. See my old panel for examples of futile and unnecessary adventures with a chisel…and see how trashed my old panel was. I just couldn’t put it back looking like that:

I have lately built all my instrument panels out of black, 1/4-inch Starboard. It’s easy to cut and drill, I think it looks good, and it’s got a matte texture that hides dirt and fingerprints.

As to engine instruments and senders, they’re just as confusing as they’ve always been. I’ve learned all about these things, and I still ran into trouble. Check out this email from VDO, a quality international gauge manufacturer who I’d bought three new gauges from. I’d spent hours on their website and just could not find what I needed:

Good Morning Mr. Beek,

Thank you for your inquiry.

This instrument is designed to work with the OEM sender that’s also a 220F Temp gauge. VDO does not manufacture a corresponding 220F temp sender. If you require a replacement, parts that may work can be found at;

Standard Ignition: TS-6 1/2′-14 thread
KEM Manufacturing” TW-3 12′-14 thread and TW-106 M114X1.25 thread
Autozone(Duralast): TU201, 3/8′-18 thread

Please let us know if we can further assist you.

VDO Sales Team

Kudos to them for at least telling me who I could buy the right bit from. As I said in Gauge of Confusion, the right sender for the gauge must cover the same range as the gauge, vary its resistance in the right range for the gauge, and be the right size to fit an existing hole in your engine. Drilling a new hole would take a leap of faith and risks a mistake that you’d be too embarrassed to share with others.


Looking at the right side of my instrument panel, we’ve got my good old mechanical tachometer, which has worked for nearly 50 years, so why change it? Next to that we’ve got the engine gauges for water temperature and oil pressure. Below those two gauges is the idiot light/buzzer for water temp and oil pressure. If that alarm goes off, I quickly check the gauges to see whether it’s high water temperature or a drop in oil pressure that has caused the alarm. I think it’s important to have both the idiot lights and the gauges: the gauges for precise readings and data over time; the idiot lights to actually alert you, unless you happen to be looking at the gauge when something goes wrong.

Under the tachometer is a second idiot light/buzzer. This one is for the new Aqualarm raw water flow sensor I installed:

After many years of fretting about my engine, it occurred to me that this flow sensor, attached to an alarm, could be key. You could have a complete raw water flow failure (failed pump, broken hose, blocked intake) and it would take several minutes for your engine to heat up enough to trigger the water temp idiot light. In the mean time you’re frying an impeller, melting your exhaust hose, and maybe damaging the engine itself. I wired it to a second idiot light/buzzer because it was a bit complicated and fiddly to have three different devices connected to the same light/buzzer and keep them straight. My flow sensor is just before the exhaust injection elbow, so it would tell me if anything had gone wrong in the entire raw water circuit.

Along the bottom of my panel are seven switches and fuses, which aren’t labled yet, but they are: Bilge blower, instrument lights, compass light, spare, windshield washer (yes, call me crazy, but when the salt gets caked on this will be a Godsend), port wiper, and starboard wiper.

On the left side of my panel I’ve got an Aqualarm Bilge Monitor, which I really like. Next to that is the old engine hour meter, which has the recorded hours on it, so I wasn’t about to change it. And next to that is the transmission pressure gauge, which always says the same thing no matter what, but I guess it would tell me if I lost my transmission fluid.

The big red thing at the lower left is a switch that silences the alarms, but the red thing would have to be sticking up like a sore thumb with the alarms turned off, so I won’t be able to forget. This way, when I’m starting the engine in the early morn I don’t have to wake everyone up with the alarms, as they will go off for 10-15 seconds until the flow switch gets triggered and the oil pressure comes up.

As to the wiring on the back of the panel, it looks like a rat’s nest, but it’s pretty simple:

Each gauge has three connections on the back, labeled +, GND, and Sender. The GND just goes to ship’s negative. The + should connect to the accessory tab on your ignition key, along with the regulator. Sender connects directly to the appropriate sender on your engine. Since your engine is grounded (negative in most cases) the sender makes or breaks, or varies the resistance of, this second negative connection to the gauge.

Each gauge also has a light, which needs positive and negative, so now we’ve got five wires connected to the back of each gauge. Many things on the backs of instrument panels can be daisy-chained together: Ship’s negative can hop from one negative connection on the back of a gauge, then the negative connection to the light on the gauge, and on to the next gauge. Same with positive from the key switch, which can go to all the gauges, and to the positive sides of the idiot lights. It’s okay to crimp up to three wires into the same ring or slip-on terminal.

You need circuit protection for your panel, so a fuse in line with the key switch is simple.

My bilge monitor is largely separate from the other stuff on the panel, and my row of seven switches has a separate feed and it’s own fuse.

The only problem with all this brand new teak and varnish is it makes the rest of the boat look like crap:

Man Abandons Burning Boat to Save His Dog

Clark July 13th, 2015

This is the saddest, but most heartwarming, sailing story of the year. Something tells me the sailing community is going to rally around this salty hero (but in the mean time we should respect his wishes and save the questions and Monday morning quarterbacking for later, if ever). It’s all over the news, but here it is in Mr. Kanafoski’s own words, from his public Facebook page:

As im sure you all know by now my boat and everything i owned was on there. i All my tools, clothes, identifications, green cards everything was lost. I left Apalachicola on Wednesday afternoon heading to tampa to pick up my son from the airport on sunday for 6 weeks of sailing fishing and diving. Caught an amazing sunset leaving the cut in Apalachicola on Wednesday. Sailes and fished all night and all day Thursday. Filled the freezer with 1 amazing bull mahi. Friday morning, yesterday the wind had died around 10 am. I motored around and was bottom fishing ans swimming around the middle grounds. 80 miles offshore. Around 2 my outboard stalled and would not crank. I replaced the fuel filter and both spark plugs. Good spark and no fuel. The primer ball was mushy.. i had an inboard motor still inside with the fuel pump for that engine on the fuel tank plumbed to the outboard. I flipped on the electric fuel pump and was able to get the engine running.

I traveled due east trolling to the edges of the 120 ft mark. The motor died again. I reached for the fuel pump switch and flipped it and the bilge blower fan switch together. Boom. The back port hatch blew open with a massive fireball. The fire blew the dog off the boat and me out of the cockpit down into the companionway. I was dazed i could amell burnt hair. I jumped up and as the ringing in my ears subsided the roar of the fire became clear. I also heard a splashing. Dogs in the water. I immediately reached into the burning hatch to grab the fire extinguisher mounted next to the fuel tank. h burned arm. I discharged the first fire extinguisher and thought the fire was out. I grabbed the main sheet line and jumped overboard after the dog. The sails were up and the boat was slowly moving. The sheet was my lifeline. I grabbed the dog and swam back/pulled myself back on board. I got onboard and saw a small flame ao i popped extinguisher 2. I immediately started opening hatches and removing companionway atairs for access to the bilges and engine room. While i was looking around i found another small flame under the access hatch to the stuffing box. I grabbed fire extinguisher 3. When i hit the lever all i heard was a swoosh but no familiar yellow powder. The can was caked. The wind gust from the tank blew the small trash fire thru the entire fan tail sending little embers everywhere. I started the wash down pump and grabbed the remaining 2 extinguishers out of the v berth. By the time i got to them and dug them out from under the pile of tools and clothes and returned to the back of the boat it was too late. The flames were coming from the lose fiber stands of fiberglass resins that are laminated the floor to the hull. I pointed a full stream of sea water at 65 psi and discharged 2 more extinguishers. 5 in total. There was snoke but i saw no fire. I called the coast guard imformed them of my situation. I told them about the fire and how it was now out. 10 15 20 minutes passed and i had cleaned all the yellow powder out of the cockpit and started to try to find the sorce of the first explosion. Still amoke no fire. I went into the vberth to grab my multimeter and some tools. As i was digging in the tool bag whsn i heard a lite roar coming from the rear of the boat. I ran to the back to find the entire port hatch in flames. The same hatcn that was holding a 13 gallon plastic fuel tank half full. I pointed the water hose at the fuel tank, rurned OFF the bilge and called the coast guard back. But i was getting no response back. Within 30 seconds of calling i realized i had to abandon ship. I put out a mayday gave my position. Drift bearings, boat info, and name. No response just static. I started looking for the bailout bag. And started grabbing anything i thought i might need. And threw it between the book bag i had and the ditch bag. I called mayday again no response. Cabin was full of black smoke and the dog was missing. I threw the ditch bag over board. I then tied a life jacket to the bookbag and threw it overboard as well. I couldnt find the dog and there was only about a ft od clear air near the floor. I knew if i didnt find her quick that the smoke would get her. I tossed the entire vberth into the cabin floor so now i was tossing everything back on the v berth. I found her and she was ok. Terrified but ok. I opened the forward hatch to go out of the front of the boat. As soon as the hatch opened the black amoke rushed out and the flames followed the smoke right onto the right side of my arms and face as i was goign out the hatch. The dog had her wiskers and eye brows burned. My right arm and a little of my face were flame kissed. My beard and hairy arms were scorced but just the hair. I grabbed the dog and jumped into thw water. Swam to the back of the boat to untie the dingy. Then had to climb back on the boat to get into the dingy. Walker bays are piece of shit. You cant get into that boat from the water without sinking it. Me and dog are nownin dkngy i started collecting the stuff i thre overboard. Bags water towel hat. Bookbag. Etc. I couldnt find the ditch bag. It sank. I had no radio no gps no flares and no way of knowing if anyone even heard the abandoning ship mayday i never heard a respose. The boat burned fast and the sharks were there within minutes. They weren’t lying when they said sharks come to fuel oil and burned boats. They were small but there were 3. Thank god the Coast guard jet flew over within an hour and within another hour i was in a basket getting snatched out on the water. i didnt know if anyone heard my call. I made peace with my maker during the search thru the smoke for the dog. I though i was going to suffocate looking for her. I was thinking of my kid. Also when i was drifting. I realized my call may have not been heard. I was 70 miles offshore and vhf only runs about 30. I said a prayer and thought about the best times i had with my son. I mentally prepared myself to die not once but twice yesterday. I was adrift in a dinghy. I could barely breatha and had no water or shade or even a paddle.

Dire situation 1. Dog in water or flames. If i would have stayed onboard and sacraficed the dog the outcome would have been different. No regrets tho

#2 i opened all the hatches looking for fire and left them open. Unfortunately that is what lost the boat fresh air was being fed to the flames.

#3 ditch bag. I had vhf gps and flares first aid in the ditch bag. It was not a floating bag.

4# no automatic fire extinguisher in the fuel compartment.

Anyway. Im done. I would rather not talk about it for now as all i have been doing is crying when i think back on it and that bullshit isnt getting me anywhere. Save your questions for next week. Im at a thrift store trying to find shoes. Im walking out of st pete up 19 north. If you know anyone heading north tell them to stop and grab the guy carrying the dog and lifejacket. Im sure im the only one. i was able to receive a small wire transfer last night so i ate fed the dog and split a room with a street walker. Now im waiting on the thrift store to open and in trying to figure out how to get to rome georgia. Or anyplace safe to rest my burned feet.

Boarding Bummer Off SoCal

Clark July 10th, 2015

Read here for this story from this month’s Latitude 38. It relates to my endless squawking about Coast Guard Boardings, but in this case there’s not much to be said or done: Someone crossing an international border (or its maritime equivalent) has no rights and is open to search. Even on land, the 100-mile border zone is called a “constitution-free zone.” However, on land U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who operate under many of the same laws and exceptions as the Coast Guard, seem to fall under a higher standard of courtesy and accountability, and a delay of five hours, during which the detainees weren’t allowed to use the bathroom, would be considered out of line.

The only thing I wonder about in this instance is the initial boarding by the Orange County Sheriff. Under normal circumstances only the US Coast Guard has boarding authority for a suspicionless search, but maybe when a vessel is coming from abroad it empowers other law enforcement agencies?

Boat Wiring: Distribution Panels and Circuit Protection

Clark July 9th, 2015

The wiring phase of this project started with re-terminating cables and adding big fuses, then moved into battery switches and distribution. Now we’re into the final leg, which is the main distribution panel.

In the photo above you’ll see what I went with. Most distribution panels in the marine world use breakers, like this:

That’s what I thought I was going to end up with, and the exact one above would have been just peachy, but I ended up going with glass fuses in fuse blocks for a few reasons. First, they’re way cheaper. Second, I’ve already got so many things aboard that take glass fuses that I’m pretty much stuck with them anyway. I’ve got this blast-from-the-past sub-panel with nine circuits, original equipment from England in 1967, which still works great:

I built this new instrument panel, which has glass fuse holders for all the switches, which is often the done thing with instrument panels. And the bilge monitor console, on the left side? Glass fuse:
In fact, all bilge pump consoles seem to have glass fuse holders:

And there are lots of other glass fuses hidden here and there throughout my boat – in the autopilot, in the HF radio – so I figured if I was going to be carrying a bunch of glass fuses anyway, I might as well go big and continue to use them on my main distribution panel. Also, the breaker-as-switch function on breaker panels is often unnecessary, and is in fact unnecessary on all the circuits on my distribution panel. If you’re going to turn on, say, your spreader lights, then the breaker-switch on the panel makes perfect sense: It’s providing your switch and your circuit protection all in one. But if you want to turn on a cabin light the “Forward Cabin Lights” or “Starboard Lights” switch on the panel doesn’t need to be there as a switch; it just needs to provide circuit protection. IE I don’t want to have to flip two switches when I can just switch one to turn on the bloody light.

Ergo, the glass fuse panels: When the batteries are turned on, everything served from the panel is energized, just the way I want it. If I need to do maintenance on a circuit I can just pull the fuse.

Finding quality fuse blocks proved a challenge and I ended up with my old friend the Blue Sea Systems 5015 and 5018, which I’ve recommended as an electronics sub-panel before in this article for SAIL:

The 5015 has a negative bus and the 5018 doesn’t, so I used two 5015’s and one 5018 because some of my circuits just needed in-line fuses, like the ignition feed to my regulator. I like these products because they are tinned, and seem to be the only tinned glass fuse blocks in the industry. Rather than buy an untinned fuse block with the right number of holders, I daisy-chained two of these together to give me 12 circuits with positive and negative. This whole arrangement was less than $100, where a breaker-switch panel would have been around $500. It goes without saying that I will build a beautiful teak cabinet to house this arrangement, and on the front of this cabinet will be my new Victron battery monitor and other gauges and switches, but for now it’s functional and inside the main cabin, which was the whole point of this exercise:

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