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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail > When use mast strobe light?
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Thread: When use mast strobe light? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-05-2004 10:32 AM
Jonathan316
When use mast strobe light?

I spoke too soon. There apparently -are- valid uses for the masthead strobe.

First, West Marine says it is approved for use as a distress light on inland waters; but illegal offshore.

Next, the rules for the ''Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race'' actually -requires- masthead stobe lights on participating vessels. (Page 5, 7.24) at:

http://www.sfbaysss.org/transpac2004/transpac_nor.pdf


The Port of Charleston mentions them (and white flares) as visibility tools -- but says the strobe is for ''distress only''.

http://www.port-of-charleston.com/community/keep.asp

Same is repeated for Chesapeake Bay at:

http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/CB/keepclear.html

Seems to be prohibted in Austraila:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1983/34.html

Basically same said at:

http://www.boatingsafety.com/colregs.htm

And the definatibve answer seems to be at:

http://www.offsoundings.com/22STROBLIGHTS.pdf

Which references the -approved- use of strobe likes described by the USCG Navigation Center. I''l take their word for it (smile).

So there are approved uses of a masthead strobe, but mainly on inland waterways. How the Transpac avoids the clear international prohibition of the lights is confusing to me.

Jonathan
07-05-2004 10:03 AM
Jonathan316
When use mast strobe light?

The only thing I could find in what Gordon quoted which might permit/justify a strobe was the line:

"(d) a signal made by radiotelegraphy or by any other signaling method consisting of the group . . .- - -. . . (SOS) in the Morse Code;"

Which hardly seems to make a strobe become ''valueable'' on the masthead; although I -did- come across a mention of one boat in distress which did exactly that (used the strobe to flash an SOS). Aside from that one mention and two hearing of strobe used by single-handers as a nighttime ''see me'', that''s all I''ve been able to find about it -- accept that Aqua Signal offers it as an option for their tri-colors.

Just for grins I will send Aqua Signal a message and ask them why they offer it and what its -approved- use would be (smile). I''ll report back when/if they reply.

Jonathan
07-05-2004 07:07 AM
GordMay
When use mast strobe light?

Sasha:
I think we disagree on the “Legal & Proper” usage of White & Green Flares, and Strobe Lights. We seem to agree more on their “effective” use.

Speaking of White Flares, you indicated that they were “...covered by the col regs with no ambiguity ...”

The COLREGS specify the use of Red Flares & Orange Smoke, but are silent on the subject of White Flares. I can find no internationally recognized standards on the use of White Flares. As I previously posted (but failed to attribute) Pains-Wessex states: “...there is no standard for white flares”.

As I also posted previously, The COLREGS (Rule 36) specifically admonish against the use of Strobe Lights - “... the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as strobe lights, shall be avoided.”

It seems to me, that the use of either Strobes or White Flares is not “legal”, or (at least) not recognized by the treaties, & regulations.

Under certain circumstance we may not really care as much about conventions & treaties, as we do about effectiveness. A Strobe Light will be VERY visible over a distance of several miles (limited by DIP to horizon), whereas a Flare might be visible over many MORE miles. If our intent is to alert a relatively nearby vessel to our presence, a Strobe may be effective. If we want to alert the larger world to our presence, a Flare may be more effective.

We deploy either at our own hazard and liability for any unintended consequences.

I’m using (wasting) up bandwidth arguing over semantics, in an effort to answer Jonathan’s original question regarding the “PROPER” use of a masthead Strobe (there is none).

Thanks for taking the time to intelligently engage the debate.

Gord


07-05-2004 05:42 AM
Sasha_V
When use mast strobe light?

I do not understand where we disagree. I stated that the use of a white flare in a "I need to be seen right NOW, but this is not (yet) and emergency" situation was a good and acceptable thing.

You responded by saying that fares were for distress only and I would gt into trouble for setting one off when not in direct distress.

I pointed out that white flares are not the same as red ones and that they were an acceptable GOOD THING for becoming instantly visible without signaling distress. and would not confuse the usage.

I gave examples.

You gave examples of the exact same thing...

I am sorry, but I do not see where we disagree.

By the way. My base on this comes from the Yachtmaster course (in which I hold my coastal skipper and competet offshore crew certificate as well as a few other earlier courses). I have no experience with courses taught by the US coast gaurd (nor an interest in them, seeing as how I am in Australia). I do not have my colregs near to hand, so cannot quote chapter and verse on usage of green nd white flares. It is even possible that it comes form the big-blue-book-of-fun (International yacht racing rules) which has a section on emergency procedures.


Sasha


07-05-2004 05:02 AM
GordMay
When use mast strobe light?

Sasha V:

I’m not certain that I am wrong. Please direct me to your source of information regarding the use of White Flares 9etc).

White Handheld Signals:
These signals are intended to caution approaching vessels of your position, or to illuminate an area at night. They meet the same construction standards as the red flares, but are neither USCG nor SOLAS approved since there is no standard for white flares.

Most commonly used and recommended marine distress signals for meeting the Coast Guard visual distress signal requirements:

Red Parachute Flare - Accepted day or night use.
Approval Nos. 160.024 (1,2), 160.036, 160.066 (2,3)

Red Aerial Flare - Accepted day or night use.
Approval Nos. 160.066 (2,3)

Hand-Held Red Signal Flare - Accepted day or night use.
Approval Nos. 160.021 (2)

Hand-Held Orange Smoke Signal - Accepted day use only.
Approval Nos. 160.022 (2), 160.037, 160.057

3-Foot Square Orange Distress Flag - Accepted day use only.
Approval Nos. 160.072

1 These signals require use in combination with suitable launching device approved under 46 CFR 160.228
2 These signals meet U.S. Coast Guard day/night requirements for 42 months after date of manufacture. They must be replaced before expiration date printed in label/
3 These devices may be either self-contained or pistol launched and either aerial flare or parachute type. Some of these signals may require use in combination with a suitable launching device approved under 46 CFR 160.028.

COLREGS: ANNEX IV: INTERNATIONAL DISTRESS SIGNALS
1. The following signals, used or exhibited either together or separately, indicate distress and need of assistance:
(a) a gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
(b) a continuous sounding with any fog-signaling apparatus;
(c) rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals;
(d) a signal made by radiotelegraphy or by any other signaling method consisting of the group . . .- - -. . . (SOS) in the Morse Code;
(e) a signal sent by radiotelephony consisting of the spoken word "Mayday";
(f) the International Code Signal of distress indicated by N.C.;
(g) a signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball;
(h) flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.);
(i) a rocket parachute flare or a hand flare showing a red light;
(j) a smoke signal giving off orange-colored smoke;
(k) slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side;
(I) the radiotelegraph alarm signal;
(m) the radiotelephone alarm signal;
(n) signals transmitted by emergency position-indicating radio beacons;
(o) approved signals transmitted by radiocommunication systems, including survival craft radar transponders.

2. The use or exhibition of any of the foregoing signals except for the purpose of indicating distress and need of assistance and the use of other signals which may be confused with any of the above signals is prohibited.

3. Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the Merchant Ship Search and Rescue Manual and the following signals:
(a) a piece of orange-colored canvas with either a black square and circle or other appropriate symbol (for identification from the air);
(b) a dye marker.

Note the conspicuous absence of WHITE Flares from either convention.

I’ll admit that I’m not expert on this subject, and would appreciate direction to any authority describing the proper & legal use of White (or Green) Signal Flares.

I’ll also admit that in an emergency - yah gotta do what yah gotta do. White flares may be one more "good" thing in your kit, but I don''t think they''re "legal & proper" (as originally asked)...

Respectfully,
Gord
07-05-2004 04:21 AM
Sasha_V
When use mast strobe light?

You are incorrect. Read your colregs.

Red flares (both parachute and heand held) are distress.

Orange daylight smoke is distress.

white is a signalling/alert device used by yachts, shipping (including pilot boats).

Green flares are used by search and rescue craft (especially aircraft) to acknowledge that they have seen your distress signal and have relayed information to crews that are better placed to get to you. In daylight, an aircraft will usually waggle its wings instead.

White flares are also occassionaly used as a locater device by search and rescue services during inland searches. A white flare will be fired to signal that a rescuer is watching and the people that are in distress respond by firing one of their red flares, knowing that someone is actually looking out for it.

White flares are GOOD!


Sasha


07-05-2004 04:16 AM
GordMay
When use mast strobe light?

Not to put too fine a point on it - but flares are unambiguously DISTRESS signals (not "hey there, watch out"). You could definately get into trouble misusing flares as a "see me" signal.
OMO
Gord
07-05-2004 03:44 AM
Sasha_V
When use mast strobe light?

I guess I have less boat to lose stuff in. I can always find it the strobe (The peronal strobes and the emergency strobe are all in clamps near the companionway). For the instant "oh dear" emergency wheer you want to be seen...there is a lot to be said for the white "see me" flares in the locker next to the helm. Way brighter then a strobe and covered by the col regs with no ambiguity. If I could afford white parachute flares for the emergency kit (in addition to the reds) I probably would have two of those as well.


Sasha
07-05-2004 03:16 AM
GordMay
When use mast strobe light?

Sorry Sasha, I can''t get this site to accept my updates & edit.
07-05-2004 03:14 AM
GordMay
When use mast strobe light?

ASHA said (about portable strobes):"... It takes less then 30 seconds to activate and hoist up the mast on its stick in the practice run we have done..."

That would be 30 sec. after you locate it, and get it & yourself to the halyard. Not a bad "back-up" - but I prefer an instantaneous "See-Me" light.

OMO
Gord
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