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  #21  
Old 03-05-2009
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Those who run improper lighting aside -- they likely don't understand flag etiquette or day-shapes for anchoring or steaming either, sigh -- It would seem that LED-lit, 180-degree, plastic lamps would get the trick done. Low power draw, not too much weight and windage aloft, legal in combination with sidelights, and definitely make the boat more visible. I see two possible setups:

One would be a combination anchor/tricolor housing (with red rather than tricolor in the lower compartment) and twin green 180-degree housings below that.

The other would be twin red 180-degree housings at the top, and twin greens below.

Either way, it's red-over-green, and can be legitimately run at the same time as the side-and-stern lights, whether steaming or not.

For me, it would be simple to wire, since I already have a Windex light up there, which is on the running light circuit.

So the next logical step is to find sources for proper housings and LED lamps. Does anyone have suggestions on brand/model of housings? Seems the only commercially-available 180-degree housings would have been originally designed as eithter steaming or stern lamps.

Are we 100% sure that the law specifically requires the 1-meter spacing between the lights, even on vessels under 20 meters?
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  #22  
Old 03-05-2009
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Originally Posted by pvanv1 View Post
Either way, it's red-over-green, and can be legitimately run at the same time as the side-and-stern lights, whether steaming or not.
Just to be clear, red-over-green can not be used while "steaming," only under sail.
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  #23  
Old 03-05-2009
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Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Just to be clear, red-over-green can not be used while "steaming," only under sail.
So one would have to douse the red-over-green when switching to steaming, but keep the side and stern lights... sounds like a perfect application for a double-throw switch on the steaming light circuit. The feed for the steaming switch would come from the regular running light circuit, then the steaming light on one throw, and r-o-g on the other... When steaming is "off", the switch would activate red-over-green (only)... Then switching to steaming "on" would activate the other throw of the switch, lighting the steaming lamp, and dousing the r-o-g array. Sound right?
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  #24  
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That sounds pretty good, except you might want the ability to run only with deck lights when sailing, i.e. douse the red-over-green (for energy conservation). In your configuration, it sounds as if whenever the deck-level running lights are on, either the steaming light or the red-over-green will always be on.
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  #25  
Old 12-13-2011
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Red over Green: Sailing Machine

The red-over-green configuration has several obvious advantages: it says unambiguously that: "this is a sailboat." While other sailors and recreational motorboat operators may not be familiar with the configuration, those who have taken the OUPV and Master courses for a CG license will have spent literally hours studying the various lighting configurations. The operators of the Big Boats (the ones where my boat would only leave an insignificant smudge on their hulls) should know what red-over-green signifies.

What's good about the red-over-green light configuration is this: a sailboat with only deck lights will display only one (red, green or white) light down on the water. In swells, those lights intermittently vanish behind the swells. A tri-color masthead light alleviates the problem of vanishing behind swells (unless you're sailing in The Perfect Storm conditions). But... neither of those configurations says: "This Is A Sailboat." In dark conditions, the helmsman of another vessel can't see your sails, and consequently has no reason to give way when all he can see is a lonely green light against the dark waters (and if he can presume you're motorsailing, he still has an excuse for not giving way - legally you're a motor vessel when "propelled by machinery").

With a red-over-green configuration, you can run your nav lights down on the deck simultaneously with the red-over-green lights. This gives "aspect" information AND identifies you as a sailboat.

Trying to implement the lights with a commercially built solution is frustrating. Nobody makes the correct configuration of lights. Adding to the frustration are the requirements: an all-around red light over an all-around green light at or near the top of the mast (COLREGs Rule 25(c)), with the lights separated by at least one meter vertically for vessels 20 meters and less, or two meters for vessels over 20 meters (stated in Annex 1 of the COLREGs)*. If you look in your COLREGs book under Rules 25(c) you will see an impossible depiction: the only way those lights would project over all 32 points (360 degrees horizontally) is if both the mast and the sails were transparent! Otherwise, over most of the horizontal arc, another vessel would see only the red light on top. (The fact that no boat I've ever seen has its spreader that far up the mast as depicted also implies the artist knew nothing about sailboats).

So, my solution, a DIY red-over-green light. I took 55 inches of 1 inch ID PVC pipe, installed 24 red and 24 green LEDS one meter apart, and mounted that to the top of my mast. I also installed a relay to turn the lights off when my masthead light is on. The masthead light, by the way, is mounted on the same PVC pipe... at the mast head - so it's a real masthead light... not a half-way-up-the-mast light. The rules specify a minimum height - not a maximum height for that light. The purpose of a masthead light is to be visible at a distance from ahead, abeam, and two points abaft the beam either side (20 points/225 degrees total)-- when otherwise your operation without sails (under power) would make your sailboat nearly invisible. The higher the light is above the water, the greater the visible distance to other vessels.

There are a few other refinements to my DIY lights - like voltage regulators, and transient and RF suppression, but that's the crux of my implementation.

While there is an exception in the COLREGs that allow use of two lights on either side of the mast that would get around the problem of finding a transparent mast, it won't solve the problem of obscuring the green lights by the non-transparent sails -- and the total cost is over $600 for 4 decent commercial light assemblies. My solution cost $75: LEDs, circuitry, and PVC pipe all combined.



*§ 84.03 "Vertical positioning and spacing of lights", paragraph i.
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Last edited by patrickbryant; 12-19-2011 at 05:33 PM.
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  #26  
Old 12-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickbryant View Post
What's good about the red-over-green light configuration is this: a sailboat with only deck lights will display only one (red, green or white) light down on the water. In swells, those lights intermittently vanish behind the swells. A tri-color masthead light alleviates the problem of vanishing behind swells (unless you're sailing in The Perfect Storm conditions). But... neither of those configurations says: "This Is A Sailboat." In dark conditions, the helmsman of another vessel can't see your sails, and consequently has no reason to give way when all he can see is a lonely green light against the dark waters (and if he can presume you're motorsailing, he still has an excuse for not giving way - legally you're a motor vessel when "propelled by machinery").
A lonely green light, without a corresponding masthead light, says you are sailboat. And , unless he is NUC, RAM, in a TSZ, or fishing, should give way.

BTW - I have often been mistaken for a fishing vessel by larger vessels, including cruise ships, when showing the correct lights at night.

I do like your solution. What about wind instruments? Do you have them mounted so they are operational?
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  #27  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
A lonely green light, without a corresponding masthead light, says you are sailboat. And , unless he is NUC, RAM, in a TSZ, or fishing, should give way.

BTW - I have often been mistaken for a fishing vessel by larger vessels, including cruise ships, when showing the correct lights at night.

I do like your solution. What about wind instruments? Do you have them mounted so they are operational?
You are absolutely correct: the absence of a masthead light should be interpreted as a sailboat. However, the absence of evidence is never as good as the presence of evidence. Here in the San Francisco Bay, it seems that every helmsman assumes there are no sailboats out at night, and treats every vessel as a motor vessel. Displaying red-over-green overrides the complacency factor.

And "out the gate", where we have swells, my deck mounted lights disappear behind the swells. On my boat (a Pearson Ariel), the lights are only 5 feet above the waterline. Sitting in the cockpit, I can reach over and dip my fingers in the water. Not much freeboard. Good for not getting pushed around by the wind, bad for being seen.

My wind instruments are mounted well aft of the light pole. They will however be in the lee of the pole at times when my boat is nearly directly head into the wind (in the "no go" region where I can't sail anyway). I consider that a small price to pay.
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Last edited by patrickbryant; 12-13-2011 at 04:37 PM.
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  #28  
Old 12-18-2011
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Actually, now that I think about it....

You won't see a masthead light from EITHER a motor vessel OR a sailboat when viewed from 6 points either side of directly astern (135 degrees total arc). The masthead light should project over 20 points (225 degrees of arc centered straight ahead), so over the remaining 135 degrees, a motor vessel can't be distinguished from a sailing vessel by the presence of a masthead light -- because the light will never be seen from those astern positions.

And since my little sailboat is quite a bit slower than most everything else on the water, I'm quite concerned about being overtaken and hit. Yes, I know an overtaking vessel is supposed to give way, but if all they see is a tiny white stern light, it'll only make for a nice lawsuit for my survivors. In the Northern San Francisco Bay, the "rule of tonnage" seems to be the only law.
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Last edited by patrickbryant; 12-23-2011 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 12-19-2011
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