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post #4 of Old 01-25-2011
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Actually, I can see the use of an LED steaming light. Not all smaller sailboats are equipped for engine charging, mine isn't and others who have older outboard without alternators may not be.

My outboard actually does have a 6 amp alternator, but I have to custom fabricate a longer charging cable because the one that came with the engine doesn't reach the battery bank. Right now, shorepower is my only charging method.

I understand that the USCG will certify a light based on it's brightness, arc of visibility, and color spectrum, but NOWHERE in the COLREGS can I find a reference to color spectrum beyond the words "white, yellow, red, green" etc. All it says, is that on a vessel of 12m or 29ft in length, you must display a white light, visible for 2 nm, in an arc of 22.5 degrees. It doesn't state an exact wavelength, nor does it even say that "only USCG approved lighting fixtures and lighting elements may be used". If it does, someone please provide a cite. Obviously, in a maritime law situation having all USCG approved lighting fixtures and elements provides an extra layer of legal protections, but I'm not seeing where it's mandated by law.

Further, the only time an anchor light or a steaming light should "look like a star" to a helmsman, is during a zero bearing rate (head-on) collision situation, where the light presents the illusion of not moving. In any other crossing scenario, the light will be moving across the helmsman's field of view rapidly enough to differentiate it from a star.

Look, this argument is as old as the hills. People have complained for years about how anchor and steaming lights look like streetlights and automobile lights when compared against the shoreline. There's always going to be an excuse as to why a skipper didn't see someone or suffered a collision.

Even if you legislate the exact frequency of light, lumens, fixture type and replacement elements, and certifying agency, for every class of vessel afloat, people are going complain that they "can't see" and use that as an excuse in a collision.

Alacrity, 1981 Tartan 33 #168
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