Best lighting for nighttime reading in the cockpit - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-28-2006 Thread Starter
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Best lighting for nighttime reading in the cockpit

My boat is in a warm tropical climate and I have a large cockpit with a Bimini top but no electrical outlets or lights. I'd like to occasionally try and make a dent in my reading through EB's "Great Books" so I am looking for recommendations to get sufficient lumens into the cockpit in order to read.

I'm sure that there are going to be a number of favorite solutions so am looking forward to hearing suggestions [well, apart from being told to either (a) use a flashlight, (b) safety matches, or (c) books on tape ]


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post #2 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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You could also use one of those "book lights."
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-28-2006 Thread Starter
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(had to look that up on the internet) Hmm, perhaps I should add that it won't just be for reading but also for general illumination (perhaps eating dinner after dark in the cockpit); so a book light is a bit small.


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post #4 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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I've used a Rayovac headlight for occasional reading at night in the cockpit. The batteries are long lasting, it provides ample light, and it's very versatile. In addition to a white light, it has a red light for night vision, and I also use it in the cockpit at night while navigating. I keep it near my bunk in case I need to get up at night. If I need to go on deck and tie something down, it provides light anywhere on the boat and keeps my hands free. It also provides hands-free light when I have to crawl into a cockpit locker to work on the engine.
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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There's a light sensitive portable anchor light on the market with about 15 ft of cord going into a cigarette lighter plug. Retails for about $40US. I got one as a back-up, and ended up removing the .5 watt bulb and replacing it with a 4watt. The prisms and the magnifying glass at the base make for a great temporary cockpit light for reading or entertaining. Sometimes I hang it over the side to attract fish.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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You can rig your boat (and probably should) with red running lights in the cockpit. This is especially helpful on an offshore passage. You can get the LED lights that have very low amp draws (white or black covers, half-moon, flush-mount). Don't buy through West Marine. They want like 20 bucks/piece for the flush mounts. Sailnet or Defender are better choices (plus the sales tax thing). Switch the lights in the cockpit so they are seperate from the red runners down below. I also run a a red light down below in the fridge, salon, aft berth, and right over the toilet paper dispenser in the head (believe me, this works). You don't need a lot. Once your eyes have adjusted, just a little light goes a long way.

As far as reading in the cockpit in the tropics, we cannot do it at night because of all the freaking no-seeums. We read there during the day, not morning or evening (bugs). Down below was better for us. Offshore, I am so enamored with the stars and far off dreaming, I honestly do not read much... not to mention I am under scopolamine half the time which totally prevents you from reading.

Catalina and a few others are now installing lights in the bimini bars. Really a smart design. Just drill a hole in the bars and install LED's, and run the leads down to where the bimini bars attach to the deck. Mount a switch and run power... really a smart idea. You might try that... but the light might be too dim for reading in the evening.

Just my thoughts...

- CD
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post #7 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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Zan...this is what you want...expensive but works great and super low amp draw. We have one for anchoring and one for reading/cockpit.
http://www.davisnet.com/marine/produ...asp?pnum=03320
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post #8 of 22 Old 11-28-2006 Thread Starter
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CD - the red night lights is a great idea. Do you have 2 separate circuits for indoors and outdoors? Where are the outdoors ones mounted (i.e. do they just show outlines of the cockpit from below, or radiate downwards from above)? I spent a couple of nights out reading in the BVI using flashlights and only had a couple of bites at dusk - perhaps I was lucky. Perhaps I'll just go get a nice camping Coleman after all and hang it up or see if I can get a portable as Sailormon and ianhlnd suggested. But the night lights are now on my list of nice-to-have things.


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post #9 of 22 Old 11-28-2006 Thread Starter
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Cam - that is good product (heck, I could open up a disco on my ship with all those modes). It seems that putting a cigarette lighter type plug into the cockpit might not be a bad idea - either to plug this in or to charge things like portable VHF radios or GPS's while underway. Do you have such a plug or run it inside to your panel?


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post #10 of 22 Old 11-28-2006
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First of all, regarding the Coleman, WE DID THAT FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS!!

You laugh. I am now going to labelled the redneck of the forum. It worked, well, ok... but the contacts on the battery corroded rather quickly. We used the battery/flour-light type. It works, well, ok. We now use our lantern that hangs from salon. I really reccomend these. They look nice and we use ours all the time for dim lighting at night and when anchored. They are not cheap, but give the boat a real nautical look and are functional. For thousands of years, that was all they had!

As far as the red lights, one circuit for both, switched just inside the cabin (accesible from the cockpit without going down below) for down below or cockipt or both. You can take one lead to power both switches (I have a sepearate Night Light switch on my panel) and be able to flip the night lights on/off from the cockpit. Makes sense?? I am sure a picture would help, but sorry. The half moons shine down from the cockpit at ankle level. Obviously the ones I described from Catalina shine down from above... but my boat did not come with them... just saw them at a boat show. Don't forget about the red light in the head over toilet paper holder, or some way to shine a red light into the fridge!!

If you have a second chartplotter down below, it will really illuminate the salon. We end up turning ours wayyyyy down. A little light goes a long way.

If you cannot find the lights I am talking about, let me know and I will PM you a link... or will try and figure out how you do it in Sailnet.

Good luck.

- CD
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