Lighting while sailing at night. - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 53 Old 02-04-2008 Thread Starter
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Lighting while sailing at night.

I had an interesting experience while racing recently that posed an interesting question.

I was sailing (on a port tack) towards the turning mark of a long distance course in the dark. We were lit like a sailboat should be, running lights and sternlight as well as a masthead red over green sailing light. Closing us on a steady bearing (risk of collision) was a vessel showing sidelights and a white light higher than the side lights. My watch Captain judged that this was a vessel under power and that we (under sail) would have the right of way. When it was apparent that the other vessel wasn't going to give way we crash tacked and got out of its way. As it went by, we saw a sailing vessel (on a starboard tack) with its anchor light on. When I later asked the skipper (he was in the same race) what he was doing, he said that they often sailed with the anchor light on so they could see the masthead wind indicator to ensure they were trimmed right. He claimed he had the right of way (starboard tack vice port tack) He never considered that it would confuse other vessels because his anchor light was on. It was a close call.

Thoughts?

How do you folks see wind direction and set trim at night?

Gaz

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
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post #2 of 53 Old 02-04-2008
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He was wrong.

My tricolor provides the same convenient illumination of the masthead fly while remaining legal, although there is some risk inshore that people won't look high enough to see the tricolor.

Tell him to get a wind instrument (or another if he already has one) and mount it where the trimmers can see it. That said, I'm not sure what good that will do. We get more value from someone on the windward rail (or cabintop in light air) playing a flashlight over the telltales.
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post #3 of 53 Old 02-04-2008
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Boaters in our area constantly do this and it drives me crazy.
They will sail with thier steamming light on or with the anchor light on or with both on. They think that it makes them more visable (Or so that they can see thier masthead) but all it realy does is add to the confusion. We don't race, but the results are the same.

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post #4 of 53 Old 02-04-2008
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I was under sail after dark last summer, proper lights on (no steaming light on) and was hailed by a booze cruise boat who was barreling down on me admonishing me for not showing proper lights. Not by VHF, but on his hailer.

I presume for the benefit of his drunken party goers on board.

Mike
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post #5 of 53 Old 02-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumper View Post
How do you folks see wind direction and set trim at night?
My masthead tri-color lights up the windex quite well.

There are special windex lights that I think are designed to cast their light up at the windex instead of out around the boat like an anchor light. They are probably also not as bright as an anchor light either. I've never seen one in action, so I can't say how confusing it might be. In any case, the windex should have reflective tape on the bottom of the fly and markers so you can see them more easily from below.

I've read a lot of discussion about glow-in-the-dark tell-tales on the jib, or tell-tales made out of fluorescent material illuminated by a blacklight set in the foredeck, or fiber-optic tell-tales, but have never actually seen anything like this in person. We just shine a flashlight on the sails when we need to check their trim.

Peterson 34 GREYHAWK, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine

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post #6 of 53 Old 02-04-2008
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He's an idiot. By sailing with the anchor light lit, he's effectively saying that he is under power and given up his rights as a sailboat. A sailboat, under 12 meters IIRC can use an all-around white light in addition to a bicolor to indicate that it is under power, rather than using a bicolor, stern and steaming light.

If you have proper wind instruments aboard, you shouldn't need to light up the windex, since the wind instrument display head, at deck level, usually in the cockpit will give you the same information. If he's too cheap to invest in one...he's gonna get hit one of these days.

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post #7 of 53 Old 02-05-2008
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The little Windex lights work great. You can buy the Windex brand name which mounts with your Windex.
The only disadvantage is the extra pair of wires to run up the mast. They just light up the Windex and are not very noticible otherwise.

Running with your steaming or anchor light on is of course wrong and if I had someone in our race fleet who did it I was politely mention it once then protest if he/she continued.

I should add that occasionaly I have seen the steaming light put on to help wort out a problem on the fore deck but the helnsman should be aware that night vision will be affected and they have no rights.

Gary
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post #8 of 53 Old 02-05-2008
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I'd think you should have protested to the race committee - and had him thrown out as a unsafe participant.
Not everyone can afford or wants a Tridata ST60+ or equivent with repeaters in the cockpit, that doesn't give them permission to conflict with the law, and be unsafe.

OTOH - a flashlight shined at him before it became a crash tack would have shown he was a sailboat - you too have a responsibility to be safe. Assuming the other boat sees you, knows the rules and will obey them has probably dented more sailboats than anything else on the water.
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post #9 of 53 Old 02-05-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumper View Post
I had an interesting experience while racing recently that posed an interesting question.

snip
Thoughts?

How do you folks see wind direction and set trim at night?

Gaz
That skipper was a dangerous fool. Davis makes a low wattage Windex light that is beneath and slightly forward of the Windex shiny red tabs. You glue (if it isn't on already) a piece of white or yellow reflective tape on the bottom of "the arrow" and this small light, invisible from the front and inconspicuous from the side, lights up the whole device clearly.

Anchor lights are for anchoring. The only other use (and it's illegal, but tolerated) would be as a strobe to indicate position during a Mayday. Few people have this, however, which is good, because it would likely get used to indicate "the party boat".
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post #10 of 53 Old 02-05-2008 Thread Starter
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Shining a flashlight on another boat in the dark is not on. That would completely blind the guy that is about to run into you. Not a great move. Perhaps shining a flashlight on your own sails is more appropriate.

Does it matter whether the white light at the top of the mast is a dim windex light or an anchor light? If it is at all visible from another boat it would confuse things wouldn't it? When scanning with binoculars those "low wattage" lights might not seem so low. I suggest that if there are any other boats in the vicinity then using any light at all to illuminate your windex is wrong.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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