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Cruisingdad 03-27-2007 12:38 PM

An anchoring danger & Pelican Lights
I honestly do not know what the lights are called, but I think it is Pelican Lights. They are lights that hang on the stanchions and light up at night. No doubt everyone will wonder why you would want something queer like that... and I will tell you I am not sure I want them, but there is a REAL danger for cruisers that is not spoken of enough.

Depending on how much time you spend on the anchor and where you anchor, you run a very serious risk of being struck at night. What is the percentage??? Low, I am sure. But I have read many instances where sailboats, even displaying their anchor light, were struck at night and many or all aboard died (as the boat sunk, could not get out in time). Some people have used this as an argument to keep from paining hulls blue (or dark) saying the white shows up better. If I am not mistaken, I think Tom Neale said that. However, I am not sure that would rally make any difference.

The worst anchorages are always just off the ICW - especially if you are not in a no wake zone. The boats FLY by. Many of these anchorages are VERY dark at night and it is easy (for the motorboaters) to get out of the channel and into the anchorage. Your masthead light (anchor light) easily dissapears into the stars. Thus, the not so vigilant mariner in his motor boat can be a serious hazard. Adding to the issues is that they may often be drunk that time of night, many have not had boaters safety course experience, they may be unfamiliar with the waters, weather problems, and as your age increases, your night vision decreases. Any number of these (with a little bad luck) are enough for a serious accident.

I often will leave an oil lamp (nautical, it is safe) running in the saloon to light up the saloon a bit to make the boat more visible. However, this is a very dim light and the windows are tinted (as most are), thus by the time the would be motorboater sees it, it would be too late. Since the mast light is difficult to see until you are on top of a boat (due to the stars) you are basically sitting there in the dark, blind.

What about stanchion (or are they called Pelican) lights? I have seen them advertised (more an more recently). I think West sells them, along with Landfall Navigation. They look dorky - like the SS version of the solar lights you stick in your lawn on a house.

Other thoughts?? What do some of the rest of you do? Just pray? Be honest.

- CD

sailortjk1 03-27-2007 01:44 PM

First of all, I try to find an out of the way spot to drop the hook. Some place with little or reduced traffic. This is not always possible, but probably your best protection against being hit.

Second, In addition to the anchor light I keep a deck light on all night. It is very bright and puts out a lot of light. The whole bow of the boat is lit. Its a big battery draw I know, but I feel safer with it on. I also am not sure about the legalities of leaving it on. Can you or somebody else fill me in?

Cruisingdad 03-27-2007 01:49 PM


I cannot imagine it being illegal to use the deck light. I think that would be fine. IU have had people tell me in some anchorages they leave their running lights on (as those are eye level) but I am all but certain that is illegal.

You are right, in some anchoarges it is possible to anchor away from the traffic. In others, it just is not.

sailingdog 03-27-2007 02:03 PM

I don't see why a deck light would be illegal. Using the running lights strikes me as being far more dangerous than using a deck level light. Using the running lights might make someone think that you are under command, instead of at anchor... or think you're moving and will be out of their way and lead them to hit you.

I prefer anchorages that are have a low "idiot powerboater" quotient as much as possible.

I'd rather have the lower batteries and not have a big hole in my boat... :) I can always re-charge the batteries with my handy but expensive SolarStik... ;) It gets me 1000 amp-hours every day.

sailortjk1 03-27-2007 02:07 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog
It gets me 1000 amp-hours every day.

Would you please care to explain. I didn't think that was possible. LOL

Cruisingdad 03-27-2007 02:22 PM

Here is what I was talking about. It is called a Rail Light.

My only concern is whether my boat will start to look more like a mobile home...

- CD

sailingdog 03-27-2007 02:30 PM


Originally Posted by sailortjk1
Would you please care to explain. I didn't think that was possible. LOL

{sarcasm}Well, you see it has this thing called a MPPT charge controller which can increase the power output of my solar panels to 300% of their normal output... and I only have to change my panels three times a day for this to work properly. CJ, the millionaire, said so... **/sarcasm}:rolleyes:

sailingdog 03-27-2007 02:32 PM


Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
Here is what I was talking about. It is called a Rail Light.

My only concern is whether my boat will start to look more like a mobile home...

- CD

Umm... CD, too late, it's a Catalina... all that's missing is the tornadoes hunting you down... ;)

Valiente 03-27-2007 02:33 PM


Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
Here is what I was talking about. It is called a Rail Light.

My only concern is whether my boat will start to look more like a mobile home...

- CD

I got one of those for $3.99 and the cost of a lashing. It lasted all season. Of course, I bought it at a supermarket...

I think maybe one of those Davis Mega Lights (or a one-third the price "civilian" version) would help here. Putting on my deck lights would not only eat amps but would frankly light up the boat a fair bit through the saloon hatches. If the ICW anchorages at night are that dangerous, you are helping me make two observations: 1) Don't drive the Ditch..."outside" is safer, and 2) Bring a rubber mallet to pound out the steel plate dents when these tools smack my vessel with their idiotic speedboats.

Alternatively, you could float a couple of spars as "torpedo booms" near your boat. Hole them before they hole you.

sailortjk1 03-27-2007 02:34 PM

My wife always says were going to end up in a trailer park someday.

Not sure I like those Dad,
I might consider the rope lights as another alternative. (The ones that people decorate their house with at X-Mas time) They would certainly cause another boater to think about what it is he is looking at and they are a little more decorative with out being too gaudy.
But than again, you see them in trailer parks as well.

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