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See the light: underwater lights are not just for million-dollar sportfishing boats.

For the past few years, we've seen the growing popularity of underwater lights on large sportfishermen or even expedition yachts, but to owners of smaller boats, the idea of illuminating the depths below seemed out of reach. That is, until Attwood introduced the 6510 series LED Underwater Lighting.

Available from West Marine for $235 each, they come in blue, white or green (I chose blue). They're easy to install, draw minimal amperage and are backed by a 10-year warranty.

Step 1 X Marks the Spot

The lights are designed to be submerged at all times, so you want to make sure they're installed below the waterline on your boat's transom. I mounted the lights 2 inches below the waterline, centered between the outdrive and the hull extensions on each side.

Using a level and the light chassis as a template, I marked the holes that needed to be drilled on the transom. Before drilling through the transom, tape over the area with blue painter's tape. This keeps the gelcoat from splintering or chipping around the hole.


Step 2 Time to Drill

For the wires, you'll need to drill two 3/8-inch holes, one for each light, completely through the transom. For the mounting screws, measure the depth that will remain after they pass through the light's housing and into the transom and drill in only that far with a 1/8-inch bit. Mark the drill with a brightly colored Sharpie, or wrap the drill in electrical tape above the depth required to create a natural stopper.


Attwood doesn't include the recommended 1-inch stainless steel screws in the kit, because not all transoms are the same thickness. Get stainless steel screws that penetrate the transom about V2 to 3,4 inch and dip them in 3M 4200 sealant before driving them in.

Step 3 Secure the Lights

Run the wires through the holes in the transom and squeeze a dollop of the 4200 on the hole right before tightening the light chassis against the transom. Once the wires are pulled tight and the lights are tightened to the transom, apply some more 4200 to the holes on the inboard side of the transom to ensure that no water could ever get in.

Step4 Wiring

The lights come with an in-line fuse that should be used on the switch side. You need to provide the wire that will run from the lights to the switch and up to the dash on the positive side and to the negative post on the battery. All connections should be made with heat-shrink marine-grade terminals that resist water penetration. You simply crimp the connector or terminal in place and use a lighter to melt the plastic on the terminal around the wire.

Step 5 Flip the Switch

Feed the wire running to the dash through gaps in the wire harness that is already in place. It's easier if you wait to fasten the switch connector until the wire is where you want it at the dash. Most boat builders leave a blank accessory switch at the dash. You simply attach the lead with the appropriate connector and flip the switch.

Wait 24 hours for the 3M 4200 to cure. Unlike halogens, you can turn on the LED Attwoods for a short time with the boat out of the water to make sure they work.

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Title Annotation:diy: underwater lighting
Author:Colby, Eric
Publication:Boating World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2010
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