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Minnewaska 07-08-2013 06:11 AM

Do you use dinghy lights?
Flame on. I have them, but I don't usually turn them on, particularly the white omni directional one, which illuminates inside the dinghy and destroys night vision.

The other night, I was riding back to our mooring after dinner in Edgartown Harbor. I mention the location for those familair with the fairly small harbor that is almost entirely surrounded by homes. It is a crystal clear night and I point out that you can see the outline of the Milky Way in the sky.

With your eyes even slightly adjusted, you can see all the boats from the light coming from the houses alone. Your mooring is going to be between the two shores, even a stinkpotter could figure that out. Granted, another may not see us well, but a collision is impossible to conceive and I do have a light if it was necessary to identify ourselves.

I ask because on our way to our mooring, there is another dinghy with all their lights and a search light on! The are scanning the harbor like they were searching for a lost baby. Naturally the sweep ends up repeatedly in my eyes, ruining my night vision. As they get closer and closer, they find the dastardly target they just knew was lurking in the dark. Us! The dinghy with no lights. Their search light focuses on us like an escaping prisoner at the tree line. I was trying to decide whether to put my hands up or open fire. We are on opposing parallel course passing about 100 ft apart! What the heck are they doing. I have to throttle back, wait for the inquisition to end, regain my night vision and proceed.

The moral.... if you can't see at night, how about not dragging the rest of us down with you. However, I will bet you can see much better with zero light than some may think. In fact, youll be able to see more than just the focus of your search light beam. Old night combat trick was to look about 10 degrees away from what you're trying to see in the dark. Your peripheral sight is much better in the dark than straight on. Try it, you'll be surprised.

Next rant installment from this cruise.... Radio checks on ch 16. :)

JonEisberg 07-08-2013 07:45 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
Can't say I'll always use mine, particularly in a remote spot with no other traffic about... But in some areas - like South Florida, in particular - a failure to display proper lights, you're simply making yourself a target of a 'visit' from the water cops, and a guaranteed citation...

My stern Aqua Signal portable light is mounted on a pole set in a bracket on the transom, well above and behind my eye level, so presents no issue at all... Agreed, any light that seriously impairs your night vision, is likely to be more of a detriment...

Definitely worthwhile to be carrying a powerful handleld searchlight, if for no other reason to deter the annoying use of one by another vessel. A few seconds of a 2 million candlepower light trained directly at them usually does the trick...

Few things more aggravating than the practice of powerboats running around at night with their bow-mounted remote searchlights turned permanently on, and scanning all over the place... Searchlights can be like bow thrusters - most people use them WAY more than necessary... (grin)

You're absolutely right, few people really understand how effective their night vision can be, if they'd only give it a chance... Hence, my objection to the current trend of mounting huge electronics arrays mounted at the helm, particularly when enclosed within something like a full-cockpit enclosure... The extent to which you're truly 'flying blind' can be astonishing...

MarkofSeaLife 07-08-2013 08:04 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
109 Attachment(s)
I always use mine as I have a friend with no leg, another friend with no toe and another whom I never met and now will never be able to untill I get to heaven.

I have two torches with glowing red handle on one and green on the other torch.
A torch is good because one doesnt get the light in ones own eyes.

They are also good projectiles to chuck at loonines who shine spot lights!

T37Chef 07-08-2013 08:52 AM

Your thread title is deceiving, I assummed at first you were referring to running lights, not spot light.

I have always had an issue with most smaller inflatables that they do not design a better way to mount running lights on these things. My old Avon nor my new Achilles have a way to mount a bow light cleanly. Sure you could glue something but it will look like crap so when we need a bow light some holds it there, until I can find a better way. I have even complained to both companies with no reply from either. Seems silly that they can't at the very least mold a holder for a small battery powered bow light?

wingNwing 07-08-2013 08:58 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
Shawn, totally agree. We have a couple of velcro strips on the bow which we can use for the red/green flashlight at night, and yet which won't be a problem when we have the dinghy upside down on deck for a passage. Someday those strips will also be able to mount our cannon... ;)

smurphny 07-08-2013 09:13 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
I row, so do not display r/g running lights but I always carry a flashlight to warn off other boats. In busy harbors, the main problem is that some people go WAY too fast in their motorized dinks. Darting in between boats, up on plane, at 15-20 knots at night is inviting collision, possibly with me! +1 on the night vision.

TakeFive 07-08-2013 09:13 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
During our BVI charter, SunSail supplied the ACR C-light for nighttime dinghy use:

I guess they expected someone to hold it up like a torch (that's what we did). I didn't see any dinghy in BVI with full red/green/white nav lights. Of course, that's a different country, and I cannot vouch for its compliance with international or US COLREGs. Most people seemed to just take handheld flashlights (NOT high intensity floodlights) and shine them briefly at any nearby boats as a warning that "I am here."

In St. Thomas (Red Hook) a few years ago, I noticed some dinghies that had a little post on top of the outboard with a single fixture that showed red/green/white nav lights. Having the red/green on the motor has two problems - it's not on the bow, and driver/passengers would obscure anyone's view of the lights. But it's what they did.

I look forward to other answers here for what boats do in US waters (especially the Chesapeake). I've recently configured a little raft with motor mount and trolling motor for occasional use as a dinghy in protected waters. Someday we might want to go to a restaurant and return after dark, so I'm curious over what the COLREGs are, what people actually do, and what the authorities enforce.

capecodda 07-08-2013 09:39 AM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
Yep, we got some dingy running lights that we don't always deploy. We also sometimes have been know to run with scissors :)

I think Colregs calls shinning a light in the other guys wheelhouse "embarrassing
the vessel" (rule 36). Always liked that phrase;)

You are sailing in our world. Yes VHF 16 can get pretty annoying with radio checks and "xxxx habormaster, we are the pretty white boat looking for a mooring for the evening" when xxxx is 50 miles away, and the caller is at 25 watts. At least we all know where the pretty white boat is staying tonight.

Enjoy our neighborhood Mini! At least the water is warm, and the SW'er has been blowing pretty darn nice!

capta 07-08-2013 12:08 PM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?
I agree with T37Chef about lighting an inflatable. I would love to find a usable set of running lights for our inflatable, so we could be seen by others.
The reality, as mentioned above, is that the all around legal white light blinds the operator of the dink pretty significantly, whereas running w/ sailboat lights (red/green/stern only) is a much more intelligent set up for dinghy operation. You can be seen from any point, your direction is apparent and unless those seeing you and assume you are foiling on an AC 72, you are probably a dinghy.
Of course, when I commuted to work (12 noon to 10 PM) in Charleston in a my dinghy lit as above, I was pulled over by a water cop for improper lighting. "I couldn't see you" was his comment. "Funny, did you stop me because you are telepathic?" I wanted to reply, but didn't (I was older and wiser then). Explaining about the all around light blinding me (lots of crab buoys in Charleston Harbor) fell on deaf ears. No ticket, but a truly unpleasant experience.
Here in the West Indies the only place we have to worry about being legally lit (or carrying anchor, life jackets, etc.) is in the USVI, and it doesn't matter if you are a US boat or not, by the way. Every other country leaves these decisions in your hands and I suppose if you get hurt it will be your responsibility, too.
All that being said, I would very much like to be, at the very least, lit with a red/green that was convenient. The engine mounted lights, as mentioned above, are often obscured by the occupants of the dink and usually get broken pretty quickly. Any non-mounted pole set up will vanish from your dink in a day or two unless you want to lug it around every time you go ashore.
We do all right presently, using a flashlight with a lit handle, but you can't even imagine the unlit dinghy traffic at night down here, in some of the most popular anchorages.
There are a lot of creative folks on this forum; how about someone coming up with an LED red/green set up that uses the 3 triple A battery cartridge or one A that we can put together from easily found parts and is small enough to put in my girlfriend's purse.

JonEisberg 07-08-2013 12:24 PM

Re: Do you use dinghy lights?

Originally Posted by T37Chef (Post 1055731)

I have always had an issue with most smaller inflatables that they do not design a better way to mount running lights on these things. My old Avon nor my new Achilles have a way to mount a bow light cleanly. Sure you could glue something but it will look like crap so when we need a bow light some holds it there, until I can find a better way. I have even complained to both companies with no reply from either. Seems silly that they can't at the very least mold a holder for a small battery powered bow light?

I use an Aqua Signal bow light with a suction cup... of course, a suction cup is essentially worthless on any surface that is not absolutely clean, any amount of salt spray or dew will render it useless... And as I often have dinghy chaps on my tender anyway, I use a bridle of shock cord running to the bow handle, and the pair of attachment points for the spray cover/bow bag that works just fine...

There a new series of LED dinghy/emergency nav lights from NaviSafe, they look pretty slick... Unfortunately, looks like they don't make a dedicated bow light, but only a tricolor, so the white portion will kill your vision unless elevated... Pricey, naturally - but the only ones I know of that have been CG approved: Search Results: navisafe: Navigation Lights

A product line of mounts from Railblaza includes a mount that can be glued onto hypalon or PVC, and used in conjunction with such lights...

RAILBLAZA RIBPort with StarPort Multifunctional Mount

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