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Old 03-27-2007
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An anchoring danger & Pelican Lights

I honestly do not know what the lights are called, but I think it is Pelican Lights. They are lights that hang on the stanchions and light up at night. No doubt everyone will wonder why you would want something queer like that... and I will tell you I am not sure I want them, but there is a REAL danger for cruisers that is not spoken of enough.

Depending on how much time you spend on the anchor and where you anchor, you run a very serious risk of being struck at night. What is the percentage??? Low, I am sure. But I have read many instances where sailboats, even displaying their anchor light, were struck at night and many or all aboard died (as the boat sunk, could not get out in time). Some people have used this as an argument to keep from paining hulls blue (or dark) saying the white shows up better. If I am not mistaken, I think Tom Neale said that. However, I am not sure that would rally make any difference.

The worst anchorages are always just off the ICW - especially if you are not in a no wake zone. The boats FLY by. Many of these anchorages are VERY dark at night and it is easy (for the motorboaters) to get out of the channel and into the anchorage. Your masthead light (anchor light) easily dissapears into the stars. Thus, the not so vigilant mariner in his motor boat can be a serious hazard. Adding to the issues is that they may often be drunk that time of night, many have not had boaters safety course experience, they may be unfamiliar with the waters, weather problems, and as your age increases, your night vision decreases. Any number of these (with a little bad luck) are enough for a serious accident.

I often will leave an oil lamp (nautical, it is safe) running in the saloon to light up the saloon a bit to make the boat more visible. However, this is a very dim light and the windows are tinted (as most are), thus by the time the would be motorboater sees it, it would be too late. Since the mast light is difficult to see until you are on top of a boat (due to the stars) you are basically sitting there in the dark, blind.

What about stanchion (or are they called Pelican) lights? I have seen them advertised (more an more recently). I think West sells them, along with Landfall Navigation. They look dorky - like the SS version of the solar lights you stick in your lawn on a house.

Other thoughts?? What do some of the rest of you do? Just pray? Be honest.

- CD
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