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Old 07-09-2013
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Re: Do you use dinghy lights?

I'll let you guys continue debating best practices. But it does seem that the USCG's minimum requirement for dinghies at less than 7 knots is just a 360° white light, especially for an inflatable upon which mounting the red/green lights could be deemed un-"practicable." Many of you are complaining of the 360° lights interfering with night vision, and you have proposed using plates to reduce the glare inside the boat.

As I mentioned awhile back, one highly portable, inexpensive light that would seem to meet the bare minimum requirements is this one, which Sunsail provided for their BVI dinghies:


As I recall from when I used that light, its lens focuses a very intense ring of light on a flat plane, resulting in minimal (but some) bleed into the boat. This strong directionality also focuses the intensity in a very narrow band, so that its somewhat dim light will still be viewed from a significant distance even though it does not consume a lot of battery power. When we used this light in BVI, night vision was not an issue because there was always so much stray light around from land, so I did not really get a good test of the light's bleed.

I have two emergency strobes mounted inside our inflatable PFDs right now, and I've been wanting to get a third emergency light for our "guest" inflatable PFD. The above light is just $10-11 at Defender and Amazon and is very skinny and easy to store, so I think I'm going to pick it up for the PFD. If I ever unexpectedly have to use the dinghy at night, I'll have this handy to satisfy the minimum requirement.

If I ever plan ahead of time to use the dinghy at night, I would purchase a red/green light and figure out how to velcro it onto the bow. But I'm not going to spend the money for that until I have a specific plan to use it, since I'm mostly just a daysailor.



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Formerly posted as "RhythmDoctor"
1998 Catalina 250WK Take Five (at Anchorage Marina, Essington, on the Delaware River)
1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)

Last edited by TakeFive; 07-09-2013 at 10:59 PM.
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