"Do they see us??" The Sun as "frenemy" - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  • 3 Post By nolatom
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Old 08-09-2013
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"Do they see us??" The Sun as "frenemy"

Ah, sunny summer, out on the water..

Okay, that powerboat, are they heading towards us? Yeah.

*Do they see us*??

Well, do they? Hmmmmm, it's important. they can manuever quicker than my sailboat, and I'm going to take the worse of it if they don't.

Hint: think Sun--where's the sun? Who's Up-Sun and who's Down-Sun?

So if you're looking downsun at him (easy, scenic, and fun), he's looking upsun at you (difficult, and hard on the eyes--especially low sun that's also shining off the water, making one effectively blind), then no, maybe he doesn't see (oh yeah, and be humble for the vice-versa, maybe you didn't see someone upSun?? Hmmmm??).


There are also sub-groups of reasons why he doesn't see you, especially late afternoon (think blood-alcohol level), or absence of a driver at all (think autopilot), or a driver not even looking at you (think waterskiiers, boogie boarders, fishing lines) But the Sun is probably the biggest reason (being charitable to the drunk and absentee helmspersons here).

So the Sun is your friend, or your enemy. Keep the former close, the latter closer, and (think Hill Street Blues), "HEY!! Be CAREFUL out there"!! ;-)


Oh, PS: at night, background lights are the "night Sun". thats why boats/ships leaving port usually see the (lights of the) ship that hits/barely misses them, while the inbound vessel often doesn't, those nav lights blend into all the others

and PPS: Ask the Coast Guard searchers, whether in surface cutters or airborne, which direction they find people in, and save them: it usually isn't up-Sun. Down Sun rocks..
RichH, chef2sail and steve77 like this.

Last edited by nolatom; 08-09-2013 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: "Do they see us??" The Sun as "frenemy"

Very good post. I have asked this same question many times. The only thing I could think of to drew attention was move the rudder back and forth to zig - zag the boat and pray I would be seen. I plan on installing the largest baddest air hornes I can so I can shake them back to life.
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Old 08-09-2013
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Re: "Do they see us??" The Sun as "frenemy"

Very good post and harkens back to WWII when both the USNavy and the Brits, experimented with BRIGHT LIGHTs on aircraft to camouflage attack aircraft by the 'dazzle effect' causing visual distortion hence creating partial 'invisibility' by the bright lights.


Apply that to headlights-ALWAYS-ON with modern vehicles, as it very often makes these vehicles actually much harder to see because of the 'dazzle', and it definitely visually removes all the 'fine detail' of the oncoming vehicle that helps define the exact motion, etc. as the human brain can have difficulty when sorting out all the 'contrast issues' due to the bright light.

Same would apply with 'tan bark' colored sails and 'dark' colored hull, instead of the usual 'white'.

Last edited by RichH; 08-09-2013 at 04:44 PM.
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