I generally avoid talking much on this blog about boat maintenance, but in this case I thought I would share an incident that could have been much worse, and what I learned from it. It could be helpful to someone.
Before purchasing Division Belle two years ago I had it inspected by Steve D'Antonio. Steve is widely respected in the marine industry and his pre-buy inspections more than pay for themselves in safety and in negotiating the purchase price. He's extremely thorough. You can see Steve's website here.
One of Steve's recommendations for my boat read as follows: “Junction box above batteries, a loose connection is arcing and has caused heat damage.” The dealer/broker where I bought the boat has electricians, carpenters, etc. for commissioning and maintaining customer boats, so I gave them an initial repair list including this item to be done before I used the boat. They checked it off the list as complete. Shame on me I never opened the junction box to check. It couldn't possibly have been done at all with the result that happened to me.
So last week the main engine large alternator quit charging the house batteries when underway. On my stop in Georgetown I did some basic troubleshooting at the alternator and regulator but could not find an issue. So when I arrived at the Hinckley yard in Thunderbolt I asked them to check it out. When the electrician came up from the engine room he said “Your alternator is working fine but your problem could be the melted junction box on the aft bulkhead of the engine room.” "Wait", I asked, "Did you say melted junction box?"
The junction box is where the wires from the alternator connect to the house batteries. You can see above that the wiring had remained loose and the entire connection burned up and melted the junction box. I'm lucky it didn't start a real fire. Wiring needs to be very tightly connected, on a boat or in your house.
All is fixed now, but I have learned the hard way to inspect work I am told was done. Lesson learned.