Many thanks to Russell Potts for re-asking a question that I had been asking myself over and over again without producing any sort of elegant answer. How do you arrange an on-off switch on a boat whose deck consists mostly of deck patches? None of the answers is as futuristic as Footys are rapidly becoming.

So what about it. All take a deep breath and tell me that I am talking nonsense. What about a magnetic reed switch?

However, note that if a tell-tale light is fitted, it must be an LED or some such. An ordinary torch bulb has a tungsten fillament and is therefore ILLEGAL:devil3:

Magnetic reed switches were used her in New York in the late eighties and early nineties. The reed switch was mounted just below deck and was wired to be in the on position unless near a magnet (a magnet is how you turned the power off). You needed a small steel plate near the switch so that the magnet wouldn’t fall off when the boat was on its side on shore. Losing the magnet was the Achilles Heel of the system. I abandoned the system in favor of a flush mounted push-on push-off button switch with a piece of heavy weight plastic drop cloth taped over the access hole. Later I just mounted the standard switch that comes with most r/c gear athwart-ships at the front of my hatch opening. I treaded a string (tied to the switch) through a hole in either side of my hatch combing so that if you pulled the string to starboard the switch was on and to port was off. This is the best method I’ve found other than just unplugging the power manually. I hope this helps.

Educational, as ever.

When I was a youth and my father poor (in fact he wasn’t: he was an inveterate tinker who would have been considerably in pocket if he had spent the time taken giving a few more anaesthetics), we used to make masthead anemometers in which a magnetic slug on one arm of the impeller drove a reed switch. The read-out was then provided by a pulse counter.

The switches used switched every time a magnet came close - so first rotation of the impeller gives ON, second rotation gives OFF and so on. All that was needed was for the field to fluctuate in some respect (can’t remember what exactly) for the switch to change state. This type of switch certainly eliminates most of the weaknesses you describe. It also explans my slightly joking reference to a tell-tale.

And of course, as the Footy becomes a designer accessory, you can always put the carefully styles key to your model yacht on your fring next to that for your BMW. The Achilles heel of this is that …

I’ve taken the KISS approach & simply attached it high on the transom where it rarely gets wet. On the port side is my drain plug. I’ve never had a problem with it, even without a rubber cover. See the pic

I’ve got a magnetic reed switch that a friend gave me to put in my ODOM, but I haven’t gotten around to installing it yet. Good point about the magnet falling off Niel. A sure battery killer.


Bill I mounted a single pole switch right next to the mast on deck of two of my boats and have no problem with water. If you are cocerned you could cover it with a push rod rubber and bracket that the fast electric guys use. Cheers Bill

I saw a nice deck mounted switch today on an EC12. It was 2 pins coming through the deck and had a jumper to close the circuit. The jumper was on a short tether so it wouldn’t get lost. Simple.

That’s the kind of switch I use in my bigger boats - M, 36/600, Wheeler, etc. I use a Deans 2-pin plugs. I’ve tried it both ways, but prefer the female in the deck and the shorted male on the ‘leash’.

On the Footys however, the power drain is so low (Especially with the Spektrum radio), I just rely on plugging and unplugging the battery

‘I’ve tried it both ways, but prefer the female in the deck and the shorted male on the ‘leash’.’

Scott - would you cae to rephrase that!:zbeer:

Here are two pictures of my magnetic reed switch. Pieces of rubberized manetic material are epoxied to the transparent deck material, both to hold the activating strip in place while the switch is on, but also to hold the activating strip in the ‘off’ condition. It seems to work fine and hold well.


My colleague and I are the major importers in the UK of RMG winches, we also carry out repairs. The vast majority of faults reported to us are eiher problems with batteries, wiring and switches. We advise every one to do away with switches because they will fail, minimise connections and keep everything simple. Plug and unplug the power lead is best. Before any one asks the question, yes we do get occasional problems with winches. They are in the minority. By far the biggest problems are easily solved by reading the book of instructions supplied with the winch and following them.


Thanks to Angus for moving this problem to the forum and to all of you for your ideas. My concern is that I don’t want to be peeling off the deck patches every time I want to turn the switch, but I have grave doubts about any switch that is externally mounted surviving for long even if slathered in vaseline or silicone grease. Remember that Gosport (end of July lads) is salt water.

The idea of shorting out a pair of contacts is attractive as such a switch can be fabricated from fine brass tube with a ‘staple’ of wire to act as the shorting bar. This would, I think, be inherently more resistant to the effects of damp and salt than the standard style of radio switch.



Have you thought of it this way: if you have a winch and servo that presents negligable current drain when at rest ie when tranny switched off, and you use high power NmH batteries of say 2500mAh you can sail for a significant period with it all connected. At the end of the day you are going to lift the patch to vent the boat and so can disconnect. Hey presto no need for a switch. It’s as easy as that.



Thanks for that. Simplicate; add lightnesss. Certainly worth a try.