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  #21  
Old 02-04-2008
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Sailboy beat me to the specifications.

For completeness (cite http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/mwv/navru...les/Rule25.htm ):

Quote:
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
Also, note that when motor-sailing you are NOT a sailboat, you are a power boat and must comply with those requirements, i.e. you may not combine a tri-color with a steaming light since the tri-color is allowed only for sailboats.

My lights: deck level side-lights and stern light (which I generally use inshore and always when under power, then in combination with my) steaming light (also called a masthead light even though it is at the second spreaders), tri-color (which I generally use offshore), and anchor light (which I use at anchor).
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  #22  
Old 02-04-2008
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sailboy - I do follow the rules, EXCEPT, when common sense dictates otherwise. In the instance I cited, IF, the tug saw the tri-color, and then saw lights come on beneath it, it should have caused no confusion. On the other hand, if he didn't see the tri-color, I made myself visable. That to me, is simple common sense.
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  #23  
Old 02-04-2008
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PBzer,

Common sense dictates that everyone follow the rules. If everyone follows the rules it's easier for everyone to know what to expect when they see a set of lights. If you want to make sure the tug sees you, you are allowed to shine a white light on your hull, sails, rigging to increase your visibility. You can turn on all your cabin lights and any deck illumination you may have. You can call them on the radio (tugs usually monitor 13 in addition to 16). You may sound the danger signal (5 blasts on your horn). You may not turn on navigation lights other than the ones you are required to be showing under the circumstances -- it can only cause confusion. If you do as you indicated and the tug hits you, you may find yourself at fault or sharing the liability for the accident to say nothing of what just happened to your boat and crew.

Here's the source of confusion:

Assume the tug is overtaking. With your deck nav lights on he sees only your stern light. Seeing only a white light he's not yet sure what he's facing, but could be a stern light and he's overtaking, so he's particularily careful as he approaches the white light. You then turn on your mast head. Now he sees two white lights, one over the other. Ah ha, he says to himself - what I'm seeing is a big boat a long way away. I can see his range lights, but can't yet see his red/green nav lights. No need to slow down just yet. He sticks his head in his radar looking for the big contact with the hull down several miles distant and he doesn't see you, a small sailboat, because you don't show up very well and he's not looking for something just ahead of him because the reasonable conclusion from the lights presented is not a small boat dead ahead. Bang.

Assume he's not overtaking but approaching from somewhere forward of the beam. He sees your deck nav lights and he knows what he's looking at. You turn on the tri-color and now he sees two sail boats. You said he sees "the tricolor come on above the deck lights" -- two assumptions are being made: one that he actually is looking at you when the second lights come on and two that he has good depth perception (ie that he can discern that the lights are in fact close to one another. I don't think either is a safe assumption to make. In either case, there's a real possibility he's going to be confused.

Last edited by billyruffn; 02-04-2008 at 06:44 PM.
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  #24  
Old 02-04-2008
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In a marked channel, under sail, with a larger vessel approaching dead on my rear at a speed faster than mine, I'll use the handiest means available to be certain they see me, as well as making any adjustments to course possible. By the time, in this instance I was able to hail the approaching vessel, their bow was already past my stern about a boat lenght to port. Given that the choice between flipping on one switch and then grabbing the radio, or taking more time consuming action, I would do the same again. I obviously didn't stress the extingency of the situation properly when first mentioning it. With an unidentified vessel overtaking like this, there was not sufficent time to ascertain if it was a commercial vessel or recreational one, nor whether they were up on their COLREGS or not. What I did know was that the best way to be sure of being seen was to hit the deck level nav lights, as the stern light was the brightest, most visable light available at the moment.
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  #25  
Old 02-04-2008
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In the situation you describe, a sweep across his bridge with a powerful hand held light would probably get his attention quicker than another stern light....but....

All that said, a man does what a man has to do! and bloggers shouldn't second guess what anyone has to do when they're in extremis. That's what admiralty courts do. Glad he didn't hit you.
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  #26  
Old 02-04-2008
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Perithead,

Not to beat a dead horse but maybe this can help.
http://www.boatingsafety.com/boats/cglights.htm
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  #27  
Old 02-04-2008
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No, you really can't have the masthead Tricolor/anchor as your only navigation lights. The COLREGS require that you have a steaming light for when you are under power, and that requires a white light a meter or more above the sidelights--so a tricolor/anchor light wouldn't meet the requirements under power.

Also, from a safety standpoint, deck level lights are far safer and easier to see in a crowded harbor traffic situation. Most small powerboats don't look up high enough to see mast-top mounted navigation lights, and if those are your only lights, you'll be at serious risk of getting hit.

You can get special fasteners that would make removing the deck level fixtures much more difficult. They sell stainless steel "security" screws for just such a purpose. However, you'll probably want to keep the specialized tools you'll need to remove them aboard the boat, so you can work on the lights as necessary. Ideally, you'll want four light fixtures to handly your navigation lighting.

1) Mast top mounted tricolor/anchor light. The new LED-based ones only require two wires for both functions, so this is relatively easy to do and generally doesn't require running more wire, even if you only had an anchor light up there in the first place.

2) Masthead or steaming light, usually about the height of the first spreaders. This is often combined with a foredeck light, for working on the foredeck at night.

3) Bow bicolor deck-level navigation lights

4) White stern light.

In harbor situations, you would use the deck level lights. If motoring in a crowded harbor, you'd also turn on the masthead light.

Out at sea, you'd use the tricolor light if under sail, or the bicolor and the anchor light (provided your boat is small enough) when under power. No stern light would be necessary for boats under 12 meters IIRC, since they're allowed to us an all-around 360 white light for both the steaming light and the stern light.

At anchor, you'd use the anchor light, but might also want to rig a light lower down, to better illuminate your boat in close traffic situations.

This maximizes your visibility in all situations. This also gives you some redundancy, in the case of a nav light fixture being damaged or the LED/bulb failing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Perithead View Post
I want to replace my6 navigation lights with some LED nav lights. I have read where people have bought a tri-color steaming light(I think thats right) and it mounts at the top of the mast.

Since it has both red and green lights and a white bulb, I was curious if it is legal to only have that one light for all of your nightime needs underway/at anchor.

I think this would be the best way to go LED if you can use that one light for everything. So can I?
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Last edited by sailingdog; 02-04-2008 at 09:04 PM.
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  #28  
Old 02-04-2008
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Perithead et al,

My initial post to this thread did not properly answer the question you asked. Instead, I responded to what I thought was your question, i.e. as to whether it was legal for a sailboat to use only a mast-head tri-color light while sailing. My mistake for answering hastily and not taking the time to study your question and consider my reply more carefully.

I have gone back and hopefully clarified my original post to this thread. I didn't want the potentially misleading information to go uncorrected. If anyone feels that my initial post is still misleading, please let me know and I'll make changes as necessary. Thanks to those who pointed out the various nuances, including SailingDog who noted that the correct answer to your initial question is an emphatic "NO."
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  #29  
Old 02-04-2008
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While I would agree that there is never any reason to run with a masttop tricolor and deck level lights, there are legitimate reasons to run with an anchor light and deck level sidelights.

From the USCG website:

Quote:
RULE 23:
POWER-DRIVEN VESSELS UNDERWAY
(a) A power-driven vessel underway shall exhibit (picture):

a masthead light forward;
a second masthead light abaft of and higher than the forward one; except that a vessel of less than 50 meters in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such a light but may do so;
sidelights: and
a sternlight.
(b) An air-cushion vessel when operating in nondisplacement mode shall, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit an all-round flashing yellow light, where it can best be seen. [Inld]

(c) A WIG craft only when taking off, landing and in flight near the surface shall, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit a high intensity all-round flashing red light. [Intl]

(c/d)

A power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights.
a power-driven vessel of less than 7 meters in length whose maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and shall, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights. [Intl]
the masthead light or all-round white light on a power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may be displaced from the fore and aft centerline of the vessel if centerline fitting is not practicable, provided the sidelights are combined in one lantern which shall be carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel or located as nearly as practicable in the same fore and aft line as the masthead light or the all-round white light. [Intl]
(d) A power-driven vessel when operating on the Great Lakes may carry an all-round white light in lieu of the second masthead light and sternlight prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule. The light shall be carried in the position of the second masthead light and be visible at the same minimum range.
Please note, this clearly states that an all-around white light may be used in place of separate stern and steaming lights on any boat under power that is less than 12 meters long. That would be a legitimate use of an anchor light and deck level side lights. However, you can not have the stern light lit if you are using the anchor light as a stern light/steaming light replacement.

Quote:
So the tug captain saw TWO boats where there should only have been ONE. Not only that, now the range of the first boat he saw just changed.. You created confusion (at best annoyance) on his bridge. Never never never run your tricolor and deck lights, or anchor and tricolor, or anchor and deck lights at the same time. Not only is it not legit, but it is dangerous. I have served aboard ships and on the bridge at night.. If everyone follows the same set of rules accidents are far less likely.
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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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  #30  
Old 02-04-2008
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Sailingdog wrote:

In harbor situations, you would use the deck level lights. If motoring in a crowded harbor, you'd also turn on the masthead light.

------

Dog, help me out here. Where in the regs does it say you can run with both deck nav lights and a mast head light? My reading of the regs indicates the use of the mast head lights is for sailing vessels only. If you're motoring your a power vessel.

[Nothing, absolutely nothing beats a good argument about the Rules of the Road -- especially, in the evening after a few glasses of wine (or whatever) ]
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