The Blue View - International Electrical Connections

I was planning to give an update on the chainplate progress, but there hasn't been much progress to write about. The chainplates themselves have been cut, drilled and polished, and are sitting in Dave's office waiting for the carpenter to make the cuts on the cap and rub rails. He was supposed to come last week, but was delayed because of another project. He did arrive around 10am on  Monday of this week (he doesn't like to start too early), got all unpacked and set up, made several measurements, and discussed the plan with me. We figured out the optimal angles, measured the sections to be cut – twice – then he plugged in his saw and turned it on and … nothing. typical marina connection

As is typical in most marinas the world over, an electrical connection is never made by plugging an extension cord directly into an outlet. It almost always requires an adapter or two at the shore power end. Here in South Africa, since there are two different plug sizes commonly used for appliances and tools, it gets more complicated. Our carpenter had two adapters between the extension cord and the shore power outlet, then two more adapters between the extension cord and the power strip that his saw was plugged into. Apparently, there was a short somewhere in the system, because we discovered that as soon as everything was plugged into the shore power outlet, the GFCI breaker would open.

It took about 45 minutes to find and correct the problem (saltwater inside one connector of the extension cord) before he was able to start cutting. He will spend most of today and tomorrow making the cuts and fabricating backing pads, and I'll write about that in the next blog.

bag of connectors

Meanwhile, I thought I'd talk about the various adapters we've collected for connecting to shore power around the world.  Just for starters, the USA uses three connector types for shore power: 15A/125v, 30A/125v and 50A/125v. We have no need for the 50 amp version, but we do carry a couple of cords and adapters with connectors for the 15 amp and 30 amp circuits. These also work in most countries other than the USA that use 110-125 volts.

us connectors

Once we started cruising in the countries that use 220v/50 hz power, our adapter collection started growing. We must have encountered 10 or 12 different connector types. Initially, we would try to find an adapter that we could use to connect our American shore cable to the local shore power circuit, but these were often hard to locate and expensive. We now use a 10A/220 volt, 30m (100')  outdoor extension cord. I removed one end and replaced it with a connector that mates with our American shore power cable. The other end is removed as needed and replaced with the local connector. My inventory of connectors is pretty extensive now, and I often have one that will work in each new country, but if not, I make a quick trip to the local hardware or electrical supplier to get what I need.

internationl connectors

Converting the 220 volt/50hz shore power to our 120v/60hz world is a whole other topic for another blog.