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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 02-08-2009
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masthead light location

hi all, i just did a search on the forums and didint see anything to answer my question.... the question is this

how far up the mast do you place the masthead / steaming light? i have one that is a masthead / foredeck light but not sure where to put it. also do the spreader lights face to the bow or to the deck? you can tell im new.... thanks for all the imput

Sean
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Old 02-08-2009
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mast head light has to be a 360 degree viewable light ( not including tri color ones )

steaming light is about 10 to 15 off deck depending on mast height facing forward ( mine is right below the spreaders )

deck/ spreader lights aim down for when you need to go on deck at night not for navigation uses
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Old 02-08-2009
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See Navigation Rules, rule 21:

"Masthead light" means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel."

I can't find the rule reference on the placement of the steamer light (the notion of it being at least 1 meter above side lights sticks in my brain, but who knows where that come from). I"m sure 15 ft above the side lights will be OK. In all cases the masthead/steamer light must be above the side lights, so you can't run under power with a masthead tricolor and a steamer light 1/3 the way down the mast.

Also have a look at Navigation RulesNavigation Rules

Note: Discussions of navigation lights on SailNet are always fun, so sit back now and enjoy the show.

Last edited by billyruffn; 02-08-2009 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 02-08-2009
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so what are the differences scotty? why do the sell masthead lights that are forward mounted only? is this something i need to install on my boat? from what i can tell the masthead foredeck faces bow but if it needs to be 360 degree viewable where do you put it? im confused a bit here.

educate me please

i guess the light i purchased should have read steaming/ foredeck light so now where does the masthead go and what is its purpose? and what about anchor lights... where do they go? and what color?
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okay some confusion here

by mast head i was thinking anchor light which is why i excluded tricolors. a tri color will have its own angles built in. a tricolor has an anchor light plus the port and starboard running lights built in. the running lights are the ones with the angle limits. the idea is if you see both read and green the boat is headed towards you. if you see only red or green it is running sideways but slightly towards you , if you see red or green and white stern light it is running sideways but away from ya.

i just checked the masthead light is a white color light at least 1 meter above the side light ( ie red and green running lights ) basicly it is our steaming light but it is not supposed be be a 360 light. so anywhere around the middle of the mast is perfectly legal. but under sail it is not needed only when running under iron genny

now the stern light is a white light that is IIRC a 180 degree light on the back of the boat.

here is a page that might help, but it shows the steaming/mast head at the top of the mast. it only needs to be one meter above the running lights, thats why you see small power boats with the light on a removable pole.

Navigation Rules

Last edited by scottyt; 02-08-2009 at 10:18 PM. Reason: to clarify
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okay a tricolor does the job of the side lights and the stern light. but from what i have seen here most believe the tricolors should be used off shore, inshore they believe most would not look up high enough to see them at close range so they use deck height side lights
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the mast head tri color green, red, white is used under sail with no motor propulsion.
If under power you use deck or cabin mounted port starboard light and a stern white light And the forward mounted mast mounted Steaming light.

your steaming light is for steaming under power and not for sail. So you can tell a sail boat from power boat at night.

Also a sailboat that is under power is now a power boat and not a sail boat. A sail boat If under power must follow power boat rules.
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Old 02-09-2009
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My reading of the Canadian collision regs is that the mashead light (= steaming light) must be > 2.5 m above the gunwale in a vessel 12-20 meters in length, and > 1 meter above the sidelights when under power.

The old definition of "masthead" was that part of the mast above the rigging (Sailor's Word Book). The collision regs define a masthead light this way: "a white light placed over the fore and aft centreline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel".
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Old 02-09-2009
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light confused



I am considering to rewire and get new nav lights (LED) soon.

I am still confused about the light rules. Why would one put a tricolor masthead light on a sailboat and still needs the additional bow lights and stern light in conjunction with the white steaming light half way up the mast? Would tricolor at top + steaming light half way up not be enough?

Reading the regulations about the 1 meter rule for the white light to be above the red and green, makes me believe the tricolor top-light doesn't make too much sense and is a waste of money and a effort.
I thought to replace the stern light and the bow-lights with a mast top tricolor would be an elegant solution but it seems it is not.

I.m.h.o. the mast top mounted tricolor is an improvement for visibility, even in coastal waters. How close needs a vessel to be if one doesn't see the mast top light, unobstructed from anything?
Sailboats don't just appear and the mast top light announces another sailboat more effectively than stern and bow lights fairly close to the waterline. With higher seas and a rolling vessel the view to these would be partially obstructed.
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Old 02-10-2009
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When you are steaming (under-power) your mast steaming light is to be above the bow lights. your mast head tri color is for sailing, as your steaming light would be under the tri color. If you just have bow lights and a mast head steaming light, you would use the bow lights and the steaming light when under power, if you are sailing you turn off the steaming mast light, to show you not under power. You use an all around mast head white light only as an anchor light. Also when at anchor anchor during the day you are to display an anchor Ball day signal.
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