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Old 02-10-2010
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Attracting planes and helicopters to land near you with a rotating aero beacon sounds wonderful. If you just mount a spotlight, (so you can shine it on buoys or other boats?) you will need a joystick to adjust the direction, because every time the boat hits a 6" wave, the mast will be moving about three feet, moving the arc of the light about 500'. How many crew do you plan to have aboard? Keeping it shining on the selected target will keep one crew fully occupied. Complaining that they need to aim better will divert another person, full-time. Keeping someone below so their night vision isn't ruined by bright lights, plus having someone at the helm, all adds up to needing at least four people on duty whenever you use the thing. If you only plan to shine it at your own deck, the shadows created with your sails up will create problems (see: complaining about aim). As others have mentioned, it adds weight and complications aloft, where you don't want them. Sails down, it will inevitably shine into the helmsman's eyes. Bright lights on your deck enable you to see your lines and fittings, but make it harder to see into the dark, where you might want to avoid a bulkhead 20' dead ahead. If you must light the midships deck, fixed spreader lights or a fixed spot somewhere on the backstay where it won't chafe the leech would work better. We sail considerably at night and find that no lights, flashlights, or individual headlamps work quite effectively. Our experience indicates that bright deck lights are more of a problem than a solution.
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