Today’s subject is pulling wires. This is another article to help you Hunter 376 owners out there. What we’re going to show you could also possibly work on the 380 and 386, which I would guess if you totaled the production run of all three models would be somewhere near a thousand boats. But even if you don’t have one of these boats, this is still a technique that you might be able to use.
During construction, Hunter Marine helpfully installed a length of PVC pipe embedded in the port gunwale that runs from the port lazarette to above the main electrical panel at the navigation station. Its path is roughly so (indicated in yellow):
If your boat is lightly optioned, you may have a little room remaining to pull some additional wires from the cockpit to the navigation station through this conduit using the thoughtfully provided messenger line the factory left. But after installing a variety of new gear, ours was stuffed full. About six months ago, I ran my electrical fish tape along this same channel (through the gunwale but outside of the conduit) to run a new messenger line, which I then used to pull some ¾” electrical flex conduit. This gave us a new wire chase to pull a RayNet cable and extend our SeaTalkNG backbone and add some other miscellaneous circuits.
Since our departure is now imminent, we’re adding the final gear that we want to have onboard for cruising which we didn’t feel we needed for our year of living at the pier. First up is the extension cable for our Ray60 VHF radio. The unit is mounted at the helm, but with the extension cable, we’ll also be able to install a full-function remote at the chart table that will allow us to operate the VHF from below. Unfortunately, the plugs on the ends of the cable are huge, way too big to fit through the remaining available room in the ¾” flex conduit. We also want to pull the DC negative cable for our Blue Sky Energy solar panel controller (a 6 gauge wire), the wire for the solar controller remote display, and a power feed to our new rail mounted WiFi amplifier. We’re additionally adding a length of Ethernet cable for possible future use as an extension for the Sony stereo remote that we’re considering installing at the helm so that we don’t have to keep going below to turn down the stereo when we’re in the middle of an anchoring drill and suddenly realize we can’t hear each other over Jimmy Buffett.
Now we could have done this job the traditional way, by fishing a line through the channel, using it to pull another length of flex conduit into place, and then feeding each of the wires through it. But then we had this idea—what if we ran the wires through the conduit first, and then ran it through the channel? Could it work?
So the first step was to enlarge the opening into the gunwale channel in the port lazarette. I held my breath while I slowly worked a 1¼” hole saw through the partition, and fortunately, I didn’t drill through anything important (of course I probed the area first to make sure there were no hidden wires there). I then finished off the opening with a rat tail file to make room for the new conduit. Here’s a picture that shows the previous piece of ¾” flex conduit I ran and the newly enlarged opening.
Next we laid the new 1″ conduit section on the pier, fed the wires through, and taped them in place.
Now my original plan was to try and use a messenger line to pull this bundle from the chart table aft to the lazarette. But Rhonda said, “Why don’t we go from back to front instead?” And it turned out to be a terrific idea, and proof that it’s always good to have a partner and a second set of eyes to help with projects. While she managed the conduit, I fed it into the opening and pushed it forward.
The plastic flex conduit slid easily into place, riding along the top of the existing PVC pipe (you can’t see it, but trust me, it’s there). We were able to push it all the way to the chart table with only a few minor hangups. To see where we got hung up, I removed the panels inside the medicine cabinet in the head and above the shower faucet, We could reach up through these two openings and feel the conduit and guide it around whatever it was bumping against.
In the access above the shower faucet, you can actually see the PVC conduit I keep referring to.
Funny thing about that access. We’ve owned Eagle Too for almost two years now, and I had no idea it was even there. But when the loaded conduit we were feeding in bumped up against something in that area, Rhonda said, “Why don’t you open the magic door?”
“Magic door? What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Sometimes there’s an advantage to being short,” she replied. From her 5’4″ (1.6m) perspective, this panel was clearly visible. From my 6′ view (1.8m), it was hidden. Again, that second set of eyes…
And that was it. We’d already removed the access panel above the chart table, and had no problem finding the end of the newly installed conduit. All we had to do at that point was untape the wiring bundle and pull the wires down into the electrical panel.
So maybe not the most exciting thing to post about, but hopefully someone will find this information useful. Sharing what we learn as we prepare to depart for our Life On The Hook™ is what this blog is all about, after all! 🙂