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  #21  
Old 01-19-2007
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Zanshin-

Actually, from reading your first link, the flashing strobe is an Inland visual distress signal. Many bluewater sailors I know feel that using a strobe to help prevent a collision with your boat is probably a valid use, if not technically a legally recognized use of a strobe.
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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
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  #22  
Old 01-19-2007
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Robert, as Zanshin's link to the USCG points out
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/mwv/navru...faq.htm#0.3_13
the USCG is of the opinion that "Since strobe light use is to be avoided (International waters) or used as a distress signal (Inland waters), it cannot be used to routinely mark vessels operating on the water."

Apparently the strobe is not designated as a formal distress beacon by international convention but is designated by US internal convention. My understanding is that other nations have also reserved it's use for distress.

I don't know of any convention calling for a white strobe as a "keep away" marker. If you saw a "strange" light at sea, and had to guess what it was, would you keep away or attempt to get closer to find out what it was?

If you were a US sailor who had been trained (perhaps not quite correctly!) that it was a distress beacon...with no other formal meaning...what would you do when you saw one?

Remember that distress markers on PFDs and liferafts also use white strobes, what other regular use do you know for them? (And as a courtesy to helo pilots, if you ever use one, TURN IT OFF when they arrive, it destroys their depth perception.)
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  #23  
Old 01-19-2007
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I believe I have found a source for the suggested strobe light: The Annapolis Book of Seamanship.

"An all-around light is any light shining through 360 [degrees]. An all-around fixed (not flashing) white light hung in the rigging or at the top of the mast indicates that the boat is at anchor. A flashing strobe light at the top of the mast warns off nearby ships." [End of Paragraph]

On another page, there is a description of the masthead lights.

"There is a choice of three lights to carry at the top of a sailboat's mast. (1) The tricolor light.... (2) A white all-around light, which is lit when the boat is at anchor. (3) A flashing all-around emergency strobe light, which may be lit only to signal distress."

If we assume that the statements are not contradicting, then the anchor light in combination with the strobe is still an anchor light and not a distress signal. Interesting.
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  #24  
Old 01-20-2007
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Jones-
"then the anchor light in combination with the strobe is still an anchor light and not a distress signal. "
Interesting way to read it. Or, it could mean "I'm at anchor AND IN DISTRESS." But that's just me.

Distress strobes (in the USCG Inland definition) flash around 60x/minute, as opposed to what I could call a simple marker strobe, i.e. flashing maybe once every 5-10 seconds.

I wonder if there are any other formal reservations for the strobe, by other nations, aside from the US ones?

A local paper used to have boating rule trivia questions in the summer months, to keep us all thinking. One week, the question involved a mess of lights including a rapid yellow strobe and I said to myself, gee, that sounds like a submarine with a barge string towing a hovercraft alongside in reverse, that's gotta be messed up. Convoluted enough that I figured, whatever it was, if I ever saw it I'd just go running the other way.
Well, don't you know, the next week the columnist apologized for the error in the problem...somehow it wasn't what he meant to write at all. Yeah, the light configuration WOULD really have been that odd.
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  #25  
Old 01-20-2007
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HS,
"...don't you know, the next week the columnist apologized for the error in the problem..."
I wonder if the staffer who set the columnist up had a job afterward?

I'm hardly a source for info on this one. I went running for the book, which seemingly hasn't been supported by the letter of the COLREGS as quoted here. I'm kind of hoping that JR will come to visit again and expand on this apparently nebulous subject.

"...I'm at anchor and don't bother knockin'..."??

Last edited by jones2r; 01-20-2007 at 03:47 PM.
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  #26  
Old 01-20-2007
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I think the proper lights are two red mast lights at least a metre apart as a vessel not under proper command. The catch being that they may not be visible if obscured by the sail.

In practical terms if there is likely to be traffic around the vessel should be under command, as it is quite possible the lights would not be recognised or the other boat could not be relied on.

On the high seas where there is little traffic a single higher powered white light is more visible and should be seen as having right of way as being overtaken, although strictly it may not be being overtaken. A strobe may also indicate a need for caution. Neither is actually technically correct.

On a practical basis a small vessel may well not be seen either by lights or radar, so the onus is on the small vessel to avoid ships with a radar warning alarm if a full watch cannot be kept.

The chances of two singlehanders both being asleep and colliding are minimal although it did happen in one trans-Atlantic race (when almost becalmed).

It is possible to train oneself to survive on frequent short naps of 15 minutes for a limited time. Resident doctors do it but performance suffers. More likely one would have a few hours at a time. Obviously this does not apply in shipping lanes, or near land or where other boats are likely.
Although failure to keep a proper watch is not legal, in other areas when one may not see another vessel in a week it is tolerated. In such circumstances, one would be alert to any light, rather than relying on say a strict port/starboard rule, so another yacht is unlikely to assume right of way, albeit correctly, when the other vessel does not appear to be responding. Commonsense rules.
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  #27  
Old 01-20-2007
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Jones, he was and IIRC still is working at that paper long term. Since it was just a quiz, no harm no foul, after all if people were saying "That can't be" that's still a valid quiz answer, and the point was, to make readers think.

All-around lights would be no problem on a fractional rig, placed above the sail. But anything intended to be "all around" should be able the mast anyway. Could start getting crowded up there, unless you hoisted them on a stick like a burgee.

I think probably the safest way to tell other vessels "GO AWAY!" is to run a sodium vapor light. The peculiar "parking lot" color tells me there are fishing boats out working nets and trawls. Or, that Wal-Mart has opened a new marine outlet.
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  #28  
Old 01-20-2007
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The proper light display is the not under command lights mentioned. These should be displayed whether the vessel is making way or not. This would cover situations where you are below and the vessel is making way, ie...under sail.

All of which is beside the point, which was well stated by hellosailor, that you are responsible for keeping a proper lookout at all times. Admiralty courts of inquiry have the habit of interpreting the rules of the road quite literally. This leads to some bizarre conclusions such as; if a collision did not occur there was no risk of collision! But, in general, if you are single-handing and something occurs where you are not keeping a lookout you are going to be found liable-to the exclusion of any other mitigating factors. The fact that you were on the foredeck wrestling with a sail will not exonerate you. In fact, the mere fact that you are single-handing may be cause to assign fault because you may be unable to manoeuver as required and keep a proper lookout. This does not mean that single-handing is illegal but it does put a larger burden on the single-hander than may be commonly acknowledged. Don't bother firing back at me about your freedom or rights to do as you please-your rights only begin to be effective with compliance with the COLREGS, anything less is liability. The point tends to be moot as the small sailing vessel generally has the penalty exacted at sea.

The use of strobe lights for the purpose cited is proscribed by Rule 1 as well as under signals to attract attention. Furthermore, it's a damn nuisance that is highly effective at destroying the night vision of other mariners.

Were I contemplating such a voyage, I would dwell long and hard on what measures I could conceivably take to do so safely. We Americans tend to think too often in terms of liability, as in legal proceedings, but this issue is a life or death one and it is the single-hander's life that will be lost.

The use of dogs at sea, for lookout or other purposes, seems to be strictly confined to the Greek maritime service.
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  #29  
Old 01-20-2007
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Dogs at sea?

Although I did once see a Great Dane patrolling the lifelines of a 40+ footer as we passed. Dog didn't say a thing, just paced us as we passed.

The Italians still have one Newf that parajumps with a rescue swimmer, the Brits have another names Bilbo doing surf patrol/rescue (almost at sea) and the French concluded that one Newf can pull a lifeboat with something like 20 people in it. I suppose one of the smaller more nervous breeds would make a better dog-of-the-watch, sounds like a challenge to lay before The Dog Whisperer and televise on the National Geographic Channel.

Anything in the Jones Act about the, ah, species a crew needs to be from?
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  #30  
Old 01-21-2007
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The Jones Act merely states that if in the coastal trade the dog must be an American citizen or legal alien. The citizenship requirement is not required for foreign voyaging. In either case, if the dog is on articles he is entitled to maintenance and cure for any injuries sustained, whether on board or on shore, and his wages are considered a lien against the vessel.
His species is irrelevant as long as he possesses a valid 'Z'-card from the USCG.

The Greek maritime service has none of the above requirements, limitations, or obligations and, with the preponderance of lamb in said vessel's feeding, makes the presence of contented watch-keeping dogs much more prevalent.
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