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Old 03-10-2012
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Lighting ...

I am considering night sailing - I understand that you are required to show some red/green/white lights.

I am interested in responses from present or past sailors of large vessels

What gets your attention best:

1: Regular regulation lights
2: Strobe
3: Lighting the sails
4: Radar reflector
5: Radar transponder
6: AIS
7: Spotlight in the eyes
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Old 03-10-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

Nos. 2 and 7 are prohibited by the Rules. Strobes are for emergencies only and a spotlight in the eyes would earn the scorn of mariners and possibly a citation from authorities.
No. 1 is mandatory for operating a vessel between sunset and sunrise
No. 3 can be helpful in some situations
No. 4 is a good thing to have
No. 5 is normally used only in SAR situations
No. 6 is expensive but very good thing for small boats to have when in company of large ships or fast moving ferries, especially in situations of reduced visibility.

I recommend you read Part C of Navigation Rules Online...

Ah, for that matter, read the whole thing!
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Old 03-10-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
Nos. 2 and 7 are prohibited by the Rules. Strobes are for emergencies only .....
That's my understanding as well, but the last time we were down south we noticed quite a few boats showing strobes at anchor.. it was quite annoying quite apart from the 'legality' of it all... and they weren't 100+ footers, all of whom properly showed a red masthead lamp (though even some of those didn't really need to (show red), probably.... but I guess it's a status thing..)

As to the normal nav lights, on some boats their positions and visibility may be obscured by the sails themselves.. if you're going to do a lot of night sailing you'll want to ensure that's not the case. The same goes for stern lights - hanging fenders, BBQs, outboards, liferings can all conspire to block the proper sector of those lights.

A masthead tricolour is immune to those things and can be seen farther away - but bow and stern lights are more imformative, I think...
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Last edited by Faster; 03-10-2012 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 03-10-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

Its all right here Navigation Rules Online , makes for some good off season reading
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Old 03-10-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

If you are concerned about being seen at night then have a powerfull spotlight in the cockpit AND SHINE IT ON YOUR SAILS if you think aother vessel has not seen you.

Another tip; if you have an all singing and dancing autopilot interfaced with GPS etc AND you are running courses between waypoints that are given on maps off set both waypoints by some small distance say 75 metres. It may help avoid close encounters of the electronically controlled kind.
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Old 03-10-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by micheck View Post

What gets your attention best:

6: AIS
Beyond a shadow of a doubt the best piece of safety equipment I have on board when I go offshore. Note that many fishing vessels and tugs are not equipped so they are still a concern. And of course military ships don't announce their presence. But compared to a radar reflector AIS is gangbusters for announcing your presence to big ships.
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Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

In addition to using the required nav lights, flying a good radar reflector is a good idea. The larger vessels will be able to pick you up on their radar easier but may not be able to change their course. Keep in mind, according to the regs, these larger commercial powered vessels have the ROW over the sailboat under sail. For safety, it's always smart to maintain the required lookout and alter your sailing course as required to avoid colision. Keep in mind that gradual course corrections are not as easy to view on radar as a hard course change. A good rule for sailing safely is to hold your course if you are the stand on vessel but be ready to give way at any time because the other vessel may not be paying attention or not know or care about the nav rules.

Be aware and enjoy the evening sails.
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Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

A powerful hand-held spotlight, shined on your boat's sails or swept quickly back and forth in the general direction of an on-coming ship (NOT shined steadily in anyones eyes) will get just about anyones attention. Xenon strobes are technically a no-no, except in an emergency. However, I seriously doubt that using one as a last resort to get a BMFS's attention would get you in trouble.
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Re: Lighting ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HPLou View Post
Keep in mind, according to the regs, these larger commercial powered vessels have the ROW over the sailboat under sail.
Surely this is the case only if the vessel is constrained by depth, restricted in ability to maneuver, engaged in fishing, or in a traffic separation scheme. So in the ocean a container ship should give way to a sailboat.

Note that the term Right of Way should be avoided too. There is no such concept as absolute right of way, merely stand-on and yielding vessels.

Here are the rules. There is no mention of the word "commercial".

"Except in narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, and when overtaking (i.e. rules 9, 10, and 13)

A power-driven vessel must give way to:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver (this may include vessels towing one another[8]);
a vessel engaged in fishing;
a sailing vessel.
A sailing vessel must give way to:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
a vessel engaged in fishing.
A vessel engaged in fishing when underway shall, so far as possible, keep out of the way of:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver.
Any vessel other than a vessel not under command or a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre shall, if possible, not impede the safe passage of a vessel constrained by her draft, exhibiting the signals in Rule 28.
A vessel constrained by her draft shall navigate with particular caution having full regard to her special condition.
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Last edited by MarkSF; 03-12-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Lighting ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Surely this is the case only if the vessel is constrained by depth, restricted in ability to maneuver, engaged in fishing, or in a traffic separation scheme.

Here are the rules. There is no mention of the word "commercial".

"Except in narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, and when overtaking (i.e. rules 9, 10, and 13)

A power-driven vessel must give way to:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver (this may include vessels towing one another[8]);
a vessel engaged in fishing;
a sailing vessel.
A sailing vessel must give way to:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver;
a vessel engaged in fishing.
A vessel engaged in fishing when underway shall, so far as possible, keep out of the way of:
a vessel not under command;
a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver.
Any vessel other than a vessel not under command or a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre shall, if possible, not impede the safe passage of a vessel constrained by her draft, exhibiting the signals in Rule 28.
A vessel constrained by her draft shall navigate with particular caution having full regard to her special condition.
That's all fine and dandy in a book. But on the water, I generally assume that ships either can't see me, or can't maneuver quickly enough to avoid me if they can see me, or just don't give a rat's a$$ about little sailboats. In other words, I pretty much assume that I'm as good as invisible and stay out of their way as much as possible.
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Last edited by SlowButSteady; 03-12-2012 at 02:47 PM.
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