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Electrical connections on/in a kayak

jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
Last weekend I had one of those mornings where I had all my gear together, weather was perfect, everything was perfect... and then I realized my fishfinder wouldn't turn on. Fishing "blind" offshore is a pet peeve of mine, and almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy I didn't catch jack haha.

Anyway, the point of the post: do any of you have tips for waterproofing your connections? Or do you just snip and reconnect when things get a bit corroded? I've tried electrical tape, liquid electrical tape, those twisties that come pre-greased. I know nothing lasts forever, but there has to be a better way...
Hobie Kayak angler for life!

Replies

  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    I'm just going to rip out all my connections and start over from scratch, hopefully this weekend.

    Does anyone have experience with these connections?

    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • hellsgatehellsgate NaplesPosts: 49 Greenhorn
    Those work well.  Can gently use a lighter if you don’t have a heat gun. Then I brush on liquid electrical tape for overkill
  • BasstarBasstar Posts: 529 Officer
    Chris, I know this sounds old school and may not be appropriate for kayak connections but back in the day we used to solder our electrical connections for electronic applications.  Would it be feasible to solder the connections then use heat shrink or something similar to protect the connection from the elements.  This is going out on a limb but if the connections are meant to be waterproof and somewhat permanent, what about soldering the connections then using something like Plasti Dip to make the connection waterproof?  Good luck Sir.
  • watergatorwatergator Fort Pierce Posts: 193 Deckhand
    edited February 2019 #5
    https://www.westmarine.com/buy/ancor--heat-shrink-butt-connectors--P009_275_004_003

    Use these instead. Stuff bounces around a lot in a kayak so you want the security of the crimps. When crimping them, crimp the hell out of it and then heat it. A lot of people half-**** these things and it comes back to bite them later. 

    Also, use tinned marine wire if youre adding anything yourself
  • 101grunts101grunts Posts: 131 Deckhand
    jcanracer said:
    Last weekend I had one of those mornings where I had all my gear together, weather was perfect, everything was perfect... and then I realized my fishfinder wouldn't turn on. Fishing "blind" offshore is a pet peeve of mine, and almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy I didn't catch jack haha.

    Anyway, the point of the post: do any of you have tips for waterproofing your connections? Or do you just snip and reconnect when things get a bit corroded? I've tried electrical tape, liquid electrical tape, those twisties that come pre-greased. I know nothing lasts forever, but there has to be a better way...
    Your finder is permanently installed ?or you put it and take it out every time you go fishing,i only use regular electical twists and liquid tape and not a problem,see mi trailer lights regular extension cord with twists and liquid tape.
  • BarrellBarrell Posts: 1,295 Officer
    Ive installed hundreds of fishfinders in kayaks with no call backs.
    1- minimize connections- When I do an install there are zero connections. I keep everything within a small radius so I dont need any wire extensions. Never install a fuse as they dont work with the small low amp batteries commonly used in kayaks. I run the power wires right to the battery. I crimp the blades on after sliding a piece of shrink tube on the wire first. I then apply five minute epoxy to the bladed connector, slide the shrink tube over it and shrink down until the epoxy oozes out both sides. You need to "bell" the shrink tubing using needle nose pliers on the end that has to fit over the bladed connector.
    2- The only other wire is going to the back of fishfinder coat the plug with dialectric greese on a regular basis and your good to go for the life of the kayak.
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    Thanks everyone, I got stuck with the honey-do list instead this weekend, so no work on the kayak. However, a cursory glance and all of your comments have me thinking about what I did wrong:
    1. The fish finder comes off the kayak at the end of every trip, but the connectors above-deck and electrical connections below-deck stay there. Often there is a puddle of saltwater in the kayak by the end of the trip (Hobie seems incapable of making a waterproof kayak).
    2. Too many connections and inconsistent electrical wire size. I had the lines from the battery split one way to the fish finder and the other way to a nav light via a switch. I need to simplify this, or use a dedicated battery for each device.
    3. The liquid electrical tape I was using was not rated for marine environments and had become brittle with repeated exposure to saltwater and heat. I think I'm going to try the heat shrink butt connections watergator suggested.

    Hey Barrel, what gauge wire do you usually use for this kind of wiring on customer kayaks?

    I'll post up pics when I get around to revamping the wiring.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • FreeLinerFreeLiner Posts: 1,572 Captain
    jcanracer said:
    Thanks everyone, I got stuck with the honey-do list instead this weekend, so no work on the kayak. However, a cursory glance and all of your comments have me thinking about what I did wrong:
    1. The fish finder comes off the kayak at the end of every trip, but the connectors above-deck and electrical connections below-deck stay there. Often there is a puddle of saltwater in the kayak by the end of the trip (Hobie seems incapable of making a waterproof kayak).
    2. Too many connections and inconsistent electrical wire size. I had the lines from the battery split one way to the fish finder and the other way to a nav light via a switch. I need to simplify this, or use a dedicated battery for each device.
    3. The liquid electrical tape I was using was not rated for marine environments and had become brittle with repeated exposure to saltwater and heat. I think I'm going to try the heat shrink butt connections watergator suggested.

    Hey Barrel, what gauge wire do you usually use for this kind of wiring on customer kayaks?

    I'll post up pics when I get around to revamping the wiring.
    If you have a 2019 Outback Hobie has a free updated seal for the front hatch.
  • FreeLinerFreeLiner Posts: 1,572 Captain
    Also check out Yak Powers hub.  Under $100.  Super cool tool for managing all your electrical components.
  • Android77Android77 Posts: 498 Deckhand
    Barrell what kind of fool are you putting customers lives at risk. If some type of electrical short happens inside fishfinder and it puts a dead short across battery it will heat up and melt a hole right thru the bottom of kayak. The less connections the better but a fuse is the only way to stop a catastrophe. I'm very amused by the people that want to use a lithium ion battery for the weight savings with the known problems the have of shorting and melting down. Dielectric grease and unplug your battery as soon as you get back to shore and you will have far fewer problems.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,574 Captain
    I am one of the many yakers who has switched to a lithium battery for the weight savings.  These batteries have a BMS circuit to protect against meltdowns.  Mine is still going strong after 3 yrs of offshore angling and there are thousands of these batteries in service on kayaks, and I have yet to read of one horror story of a meltdown.   I would definitely be cautious of any no-name eBay specials, but brand name lithiums being sold for kayaks have a solid reputation.  

    Fishfinders come with a fuse as a safety device.  On more than one occasion, I have blown fuses on my fishfinder only to find I have some bad wires in the system.  Humidity works it's way up underneath the insulation of the wires, and swapping them out every 18-24 months is regular maintenance for mine. 

    Always use marine grade wires.  The normal wiring from Home Depot will corrode up fast.   As others mentioned, minimize the number of wires below deck.   The custom kayaks with the switchboards look cool, but no thank you -- too much maintenance.  Kayak lights are easier to maintain if they have no wiring in the hull, ie self-contained waterproof flashlights are the best IMHO.      

    Batteries and Fishfinders are the first things to be removed and placed indoors after every fishing trip.  I have found that even hooking the fishfinder up the night before has generated humidity problems that kept it from working consistently in the damp morning hours.  I always test the fishfinder the night before.  When it fails to work, typically a generous application of dielectric grease fixes the problem and then take it back indoors.  It gets connected just before I launch through the surf.  

    Sorry for deviating from the initial wiring topic.  One thing I will add to what other's have already mentioned is that I apply dielectric grease to all wire splices before I insulate them closed with heat tape and sealers.  Application of dielectric grease to all connections before every trip has probably saved my system.  Twice the mounting bracket malfunctioned -- dropping my fishfinder into salt water.  All is still working well.
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