Welcome to Boat Electrics 101, the first online course from BOATHOWTO

Boat Electrics 101 will increase both your safety and your self-reliance on the water. The modules in this course will help you to understand your electrical system, and provide you with the necessary knowledge to fix it, extend it, or even completely rewire your boat in a professional way.

This course is the result of a joint effort of the three founders of BoatHowTo: Jan Athenstädt, Michael Herrmann and Nigel Calder. You will find detailed information about us towards the end of this page.

Course Goal

Our goal for this course is to provide sufficient information for even beginners to develop a comprehensive understanding of the DC system on their boats. This course should enable everyone to install and fix things on their own, or at least have the ability to spot potential points of failure in a system. 

This is an important part of seamanship these days, and more important than ever. And it applies not just to used boats, because in our experience even boats that come straight from the boat builder sometimes have electrical systems that are badly installed, and on occasion potentially dangerous.

Even boaters who already know the basics will benefit from the later lessons where details for safe and reliable installations are discussed along with systems design.

We believe that if you master everything we cover here in this course, you will quite often be able to do a better job working on your electrics than many so-called "marine electricians".

If you do it: Do it right!

That is our motto for this course. And in our opinion, the best way to do things right is to understand why you are doing them. 

That's why we not only want to tell you what to do, but we also want you to understand why and how and enable you to make your own informed decisions

Some of this content will be difficult for novices and you will need a certain commitment to learning. Unfortunately, there is just no way around this and there are no shortcuts with boat electrical systems.

Whether it comes to choosing new equipment, installing equipment, or troubleshooting your existing installation: The same basic knowledge is necessary for everything from a minor rewiring job to a complete rewiring of a boat, or when starting from scratch with a new build.

No matter how simple the circuit, it is either correctly designed and installed or it will be prone to trouble and potentially unsafe.


If the content becomes overwhelming, it is an indication that you should look for professional help. Don't try to muddle through on your own if you are not sure what you are doing.

Even if you are only installing simple circuits, you need the base knowledge we teach in the following modules. Without this you will not be able to do a proper job when it comes to sizing cables, determining what overcurrent protection devices to use, where to put them, and so on.

Meet the BOATHOWTO Team

Dr. Jan C. Athenstädt

Your Teacher

Jan runs a German online magazine for boatowners and an online shop for boat electrics.

He has a PhD in Computer Science.

Jan is the youngster in the BOATHOWTO team. During his studies of computer science in Germany and the US, he has worked as crew on various tall ships before moving aboard his own boat.

He started teaching people how to install and maintain technical systems on their boat through his online magazine KlabauterKiste.

He later started an online shop for boat electric supplies which he runs from his boat while sailing the Med.

Jan takes care of the technical side of BOATHOWTO and will guide you through most of the video lessons.

Click here to learn more about Jan's story...

Nigel Calder

Expert on ABYC Standards

Author of the famous
Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual,
often referred to as the "Bible for boatowners"

Nigel is a full-time sailing writer, with a focus on marine technical systems. He is often referred to as THE guru when it comes to mechanical and electrical systems on boats.

His books are widely acclaimed by both boaters and professionals in the field. His most famous book, the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual has sold over 300,000 copies and has a staggering 4,8 stars from 596 ratings on Amazon.

Besides writing books, Nigel is a long-time member of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) electrical Project Technical Committee (PTC) which writes the standards for recreational boat systems in the USA, and has also been involved in European standards development.

Click here to learn more about Nigel's story...

Michael Herrmann

Expert on ISO Standards

Author of several books about technical equipment on boats.

His book on electrical systems "Elektrik auf Yachten" is considered THE reference for technical information in the German language.

Michael belongs to the rare kind of people who combine a vast theoretical knowledge with the ability to apply this to the practical world.

Besides having written seven books, he has published over 500 articles in technical magazines, mainly on the topics of boat electrics and mechanics.

Since 2007, Michael has been a member of the German Boat Builders Association committee on electrics, and a member of ISO TC188 which establishes standards for small craft.

His latest activity in the ISO was contributing to the merger of the two basic standards for DC and AC electrical systems on recreational craft - ISO 10133 and 13297.

Click here to learn more about Michael's story...

  • Hello Jan – Is there a way that we can download the course content in text format? I would find it helpful to print out and study the content in parallel with watching the videos. Is this possible? Perhaps in pdf format? Thank you

    • Mark,
      Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately we don’t have a PDF Version of the lecture notes. But what you can do is to print them from your browser. If you click on the “<<" Symbol on the top left the menu is hidden and the space on the page is better used. I know it's not ideal, but for now we unfortunately don't have another option. But I'll note it down and maybe we will make something like this in the future. Best Jan

  • hi guys
    why does the video not play … this is the message i keep getting: Sorry
    Because of its privacy settings, this video cannot be played here.

    • Hi Paul,
      This is strange. The video plays fine on my computer. I wonder if this might be an issue with either your browser settings or maybe some plugin in your browser? Can you try to access the page again with either a different browser or in private mode? (File -> New incognito window)
      Please let me know if this solved the issue, or else what browser and device you are using and whether you have any browser plugins installed.

      • Hi Jan, thanks for your quick response. I worked it out. My privacy setting are very narrow so i had to mark your site as an exception. All good i’m watching you now.:)
        cheers Paul

  • Hi to all, in my case (had the same problem) it wasnt MalwareBytes Add-On, but Ghostery which needed whitelist of boathowto.com

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