One thing to remember, out at sea, in heavy weather, a large ship may not be able to see deck level lights at all. A masthead tricolor will often be easily visible in those conditions. Likewise, in a crowded harbor, deck-level lights will often be more easily seen than mast head lights, since the smaller boats are often not looking up for the masthead lights, which are essentially eye-level to the large ships.
I too use the masthead tricolor when off-shore, away from crowded harbor situations, and use the deck-level lights when I get into congested harbor situations.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.