Electrical Service. Most of our dock slips have at the pedestal 125 Volt / 50 Amp service receptacles. At Watch Hill we some of the larger slips have both 250 Volt / 50 Amp and 125 Volt / 50 Amp service receptacles. Pleast note that our the 250 Volt receptacles provide voltage on a 208 Volt system and voltage can vary. See our Slip Maps for slip and power configuration (note, pilings can move so power and slip sizes may vary, call the dockmaster for if you need veriication). The typical adaptor 30 Amp boats would need is the dockside Male 125 Volt / 50 Amp with the boat side Female 125 Volt / 30 Amp (click here for an example). NOTE, our marina general stores sell these adaptors at a very competitive price.
Ground FauIt Circuit Protection and What to Expect. For safety reasons, the National Electrical Code (NEC) will require that all marinas be Ground Fault Protected (GFP) in the future so ultimately there will be no place to hide and now is a great time to deal with it. GFP marinas protect lives and property. Since Watch Hill & Sailors Haven have recently had new electrical systems installed at both marinas, NEC code required that the electrical service to your vessels be GFP. The GFP configurations have been upgraded by NPS/FINS since their recent installations to remedy some configuration issues and are now the same at both marinas. Here’s what to expect.
Watch Hill. Here’s the good news — Watch Hill pedastal breakers were upgraded in 2019. Each slip now has its own GFP breaker with a full 100 milliAmp threshold and a boater can reset the breaker without assistance (self-service). It is now rare that a boat trips the GFP breaker at Watch Hill. A problematic boat will not trip a neighboring boat.
If you are a new to Watch Hill and haven’t been to a GFP marina, we are happy to assist you should your boat trip the breaker. We provide some tips below.
The first couple of years, we spent countless hours with boaters that had issues and we usually isolated the problem (we’ll continue to assist). Most of the boats that had problems early on found the problem and now enjoy long visits to Watch Hill without issue. This is good news for everyone because boats with GFP problems are a safety risk and their zincs and metals corrode. If you have a GFP issue with your vessel the best practice is to have an ABYC Electrician troubleshoot your electrical system (click here for the ABYC Directory to find a local technician ).
Sailors Haven. It is rare that a boat trips a GFP breaker at Sailors Haven. It can happen but each slip has its own GFP breaker with a full 100 milliAmp threshold and a boater can reset the breaker without assistance. A problematic boat will not trip a neighboring boat. A few years ago when the marina was first rewired, the configuration was one GFP for each side of the Marina which was a poor design. FINS and the NPS remedied the problem long ago.
Tips for New Boaters to GFP Marinas. Start by turning off all pedestal breakers and disconnecting your power cords before troubleshooting your electrical system to avoid electrical shock and injury. Then locate your multi-meter. You want the electrical power OFF and disconnected from the shore power to perform these tests.
The first place to look is your power cords and adaptors. Often they are old, corroded or burned out (you can see char marks around the receptacles or prongs). Charred cords should be replaced immediately (we sell at our General Store for a competitively low price). The general multi-meter tests that can be performed anywhere is to check across all power lines (hots, neutral and ground) for resistance and continuity. If there is continuity across your neutral and ground, the lines are bonded somewhere and this condition will trip the GFP breaker at the pedestal.
The next most common ground fault situation is if your boat has a galvanic-isolator. Some boat manufacturers like Formula install them standard. Galvanic-isolators are usually hidden in the electrical panel or under a berth so they can be difficult to find. Once you find them, you have to completely disconnect all lines coming from the unit (both power and 12V lines). Often times the 12V lines have a plug that can be pulled out of the unit. We do recommend that boaters who frequent Watch Hill Marina, that they install switches in all of the Galvanic-Isolator lines.
When it rains, water can get into cord connections, especially adaptor to cord connections and create a ground fault. The best way to avoid this is to use dielectric grease at all receptacle connections with pedestals, cords, adaptors and your boat receptacle. This seals the plugs and helps keep the water from penetrating and shorting the lines. If your GFP breaker trips while it’s raining or sometime after, you’ll need to separate all connections, dry with a towel, and ideally use a smear of dielectric grease.
Next, if there is any resistance across your lines (hot, neutral, ground for 125V systems or two hots, neutral, ground for 250V systems) you have a ground fault. Your multi-meter should show infinite resistance (open circuit). You can determine the reading for infinite resistance by holding your probes apart with air space between. A resistance reading between your hot, neutral or ground lines means that there is a circuit between them when there should not be. This is a Ground Fault condition and it may trip the GFP breaker at the pedestal. We say it may trip it because each breaker has a 100 miliAmp threshold so you may not trip if you’re under the threshold. Additionally, the leaked amperage is cumulative. That means you may not trip if you have small ground faults in a few circuits but run the circuits individually. However, as you turn on more circuits with Ground Faults, the leaked amperage are additive and can exceed the threshold and trip the breaker.
If you have a Ground Fault condition, the next step is to isolate the cords and adapters one at a time to eliminate them as the problem. Then you continue by turning all of your main and subbreakers on. If you don’t show resistence as you turn on each main this is good. You then check for resistence as you turn on each subbreaker. This helps you isolate the problematic circuit. It could be an appliance like a hotwater heater, AC, battery charger, inverter, or a faulty kitchen/bath GFP receptacle on that circuit among other things.
If you show resistance after the cords (not the cord or adapter) and all of your breakers are off, this is usually the most difficult ground fault to find because the ground fault is likely a neutral and ground short but you cannot isolate to find by turning off individual subbreakers. This situation, where you have to isolate neutral or ground lines, is a good time to have an ABYC Electrician troubleshoot your electrical system (click here for the ABYC Directory to find a local technician ).
Something worth mentioning is that isolation transformers at the dock can prevent the tripping of GFP breakers at the pedastal and step up low voltage. However, if you have a Ground Fault and you trip the GFP breaker without the transformer this means you have a ground fault. Understand that in this case, YOU HAVE A POTENTIALLY UNSAFE CONDITION, and the safe thing to do and best practice is to troubleshoot and find the Ground Fault to protect life and property. Although Ground Faults are sometimes nuissance issues, they can worsen over time or they can be serious from the getgo. We were on a fairly new 42 ft Picnic Boat that looked pristine but was tripping the GFP breaker. The boater started opening electrical service panels and sure enough we found a loose main connection that had been arcing and charring the lines. The loose connection could have easily shorted further and caused a serious fire. Be smart and troubleshoot all Ground Faults.