let-there-be-light (5)Sailors, the cruising kind, are split into two camps these days – monohull or catamarans. Each camp, no surprise, has its opinions and position on which is the better tool for crossing oceans. One of the criticisms leveled at monohulls is that you go downstairs to the main living area. Catamarans on the other hand are like a split-level house. The living room and kitchen are upstairs, while the bedrooms are in the basement. Monohulls can be dark. Portholes set at eye level are more like clerestory windows, while hatches are generally poor skylights. On the plus side, monohulls right themselves if they are knocked down and cost half as much to moor in a marina.

Thus, for the past couple of days, we’ve been addressing Aleta’s dimly lit interior. The good news is the LED lighting revolution is complete. LEDs are cheaper than incandescents and come in a wide variety of form factors. Yep, it’s time to short your tungsten holdings if you still have any. Granny’s lights are a thing of the past and coveted only by hipsters hell bent on destroying the planet with energy guzzling Edisonian relics. Selfish bastards! (Get on with it! – ed.)

Working on Aleta isn’t my favourite thing in the world. I’ve always been more of an ideas guy. A big picture visionary. And a beer bum. But if you have to work on your boat there’s a couple of things that help relieve the effort. The first is a voluntary project rather than an emergency repair. The second is every inch of Aleta is accessible if you’re patient and have a screwdriver. Aleta was designed so that everything could be taken out of her without having to cut holes in her hull. Fuel tanks, water tanks, engine, all that stuff. Lots of (inferior) boats make things like that really difficult. For a while some manufacturers even fibreglassed water and fuel tanks into their boats making them impossible to remove. Dumbasses!

let-there-be-light (3)Holey Moley!

Sourcing 12-volt dimmable lights for a reasonable price on amazon.it proved easy enough. More difficult was finding a 55mm hole saw, or sega a tazza in Italian[1]. After deciding where the lights should go the next thing was to pull off the ceiling panels and cut holes in them. Cutting a two-inch hole in rock hard fibreboard is a one-off decision. No do-overs. No Polyfilla. It is a full-on commitment.

There was enough room in the existing wire run to pull the new cable alongside it, down through the pantry, under the circuit breaker panel and along the back side of the starboard settee. A cabin light bus conveniently placed behind the settee made the work of tapping into the correct breaker simple. Back in the companion way I bogarted an existing switch and saved myself the challenge of drilling through an inch and a half of solid fiberglass.


Unlike your home, accessing the spaces behind walls and under the floor is vastly easier on Aleta. Eighty percent of this job had nothing to do with wiring and everything to do with removing and replacing panels, doors and shelves. Such digging around invites inspection of nooks and crannies, too. And that’s a good thing. With the new lights installed even those of us with aging eyes can once again see to knit and sketch. And our Zoom calls no longer look like we’re dialing in from a cave.

[1] (As a side note, Google automatically detects “sega a tazza” as Bulgarian and translates it as, ‘now the pelvis’. As John Cleese once said: My hovercraft is full of eels!)



  1. You failed to mention that working in all those nook and crannies is almost impossible for a tall person.

    Every marina should have a 5ft tall skinny person with a EE for higher.

    Good looking lights job well done

    Mark Tauscher

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