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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #21  
Old 05-30-2007
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In the US, according to the Coast Guard safety inspection I passed, the steaming (white mast light at spreader height) light is not required. Whether that means you don't have to have it or not, I don't know (though I'm sure someone does ).

Currently at 26 50 09 N 80 03 17 W
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  #22  
Old 05-30-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PBzeer
In the US, according to the Coast Guard safety inspection I passed, the steaming (white mast light at spreader height) light is not required. Whether that means you don't have to have it or not, I don't know (though I'm sure someone does ).

Currently at 26 50 09 N 80 03 17 W
Jon-

I don't believe it is required, unless you are under power at night. However, a small sailboat, like yours, you can use an all-around white light and the bow bi-color, instead of a steaming light and stern light. IIRC, you can use your anchor light as the all-around white light.

Hope that helps.

Dan
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  #23  
Old 05-30-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22
The red over green lights positively identifies the vessel as a sailboat, no other vessel can display red over green(previous reply refers to red over white, which is a Pilot vessel). With lights on deck you will be identified as a "power vessel" when sailing at night. This is a dangerous situation when a power vessel fails to give you the right of way based on his assumption that you are also a power vessel. Masthead lights are a pain to replace though and add some weight and windage at the top of the mast. For cruising and ocean crossings, I'd go with the sailboat lights, red over green.
Oopsie!!! Red over White, is a fishing vessel NOT a pilot boat which is White over Red. Green over White is Trawling at night.
Next Oopsie: If you are a pure Sailing vessel (no engine) you don't need the Masthead light (that is what it is called). But if you have an engine, outboard/inboard it don't matter, you have to have that masthead light. (This one USCG Inspector is mistaken). Usually mounted about spreader height. This indicates that you are under power when lite. And if you have your sails up and the engine running you better have that masthead light turned on. FOR you are now a power driven vessel, sails or not, you are a power driven vessel and have to lighted as such. And fly the inverted cone during daylight hours also in this case. The USCG will ticket you big time. And under sail alone you will have it turned off to indicate that you are a sail boat. (Or a barge under tow) Sorry had to say that. Heh Heh Heh.


Opinion: The one thing I don't like about the tricolor light at the top of the mast for all of your lighting needs is that you are depending on one light bulb for your lighting needs... Now in wet windy weather when that bulb goes out, which one of you is going to climb the mast to replace it. That is if you have a spare on board.

Now for you single handers. Do you fly two black balls (NOT UNDER COMMAND) when you go below or taking a nap? And at night Two Vertical Red lights (NOT UNDER COMMAND)?? When you are down below or taking that needed nap?? Why Not? These signals are for your safety and the safety of others around you. The Seas are becoming More & More Crowded as manufacturing becomes more global. And this is with the big ships. And there more & more yachts out there also. I didn't even mention the thousands of fishing vessels out there.

Now for the Red over Green: Why not?? It identifies you as a sailing vessel. Two more lights that make you easier to see at night. Go for it.

LEDs bulbs are showing up on the market. The good thing is that they draw very little power. But the price is still half way to the moon. But the power consumption of the leds are so much less than the incadescent bulbs at they are worth the money. Easier on th batteries, etc. etc.

Last edited by Boasun; 05-30-2007 at 07:51 PM.
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  #24  
Old 05-30-2007
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To be completely frank about it, I don't worry about it. Next time I'm up the mast, I'll change the bulb in the steaming light. I'm usually offshore if I'm out at night. I know you're supposed to show it when motoring, but like a daytime anchor ball, I don't think it's followed very closely.

Currently at 26 50 09 N 80 03 17 W
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  #25  
Old 05-30-2007
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You know what is funny, last time I was sailing at night, there was a tanker in front of us, it was so lit up with white "courtesy" lights and stuff we could tell which way he was going, by the shape of the house. Never ever did we see red or green lights....
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I think there are a couple of inaccuracies here. The red over green are all round lights at or near the top of the mast where they can best be seen which suggests actually at the top. They may be shown in addition to normal sidelights but not in addition to a tricolour.
Normally vertical lights on a vessel less than 20 m require at least 1 m separation, eg not under proper command. This arises from Annex 1 2 i (i). But 2 i says where the rules prescribe 2-3 lights to be carried in a vertical line they shall be spaced as follows.
While the NUPC lights are prescribed to be carried the red over green is arguably not prescribed rather permitted.
However one may wish to avoid such an argument should an issue arise.
The situation then is that to achieve one metre separation of all round lights would require a special mounting clear of the top of the mast to avoid a segment being obscured by the mast. This also highlights the difficulty of a singlehander showing NUPC lights.
This former would be unlikely for cost and power reasons and would offer no advantage over a tricolour.
The prospects of sidelights mounted 1-2m above the waterline being seen in any kind of sea being seen are less than with a tri. While reliability is an issue, one should remember that the power range of a sidelight is only at least 1 mile if under 12 m and 2 miles if between 12-20m
This suggests to me roll out the leds and boost the output while still saving power. If a freighter closing at say 30 knots can't see me until within a mile, I wouldn't count on him seeing me within the two minutes to impact let alone taking avoiding action.
Indeed since his lights ranges are 6 miles for masthead and 3 for sidelights assuming I saw him instantly rather than on a ten minute scan I would have 12 minutes during perhaps 6 of which it would be unclear apart from any brightening, which is uncertain, whether it was a sternlight, and 6 minutes of certainty. That isn't much as a maximum to take evasive action particularly as my bow would be wandering and the clearance would be uncertain, particularly as even if I turned 90 deg instantly it would take me 6 minutes to cover half a mile.
It would seem prudent to treat any white light at a distance as potentially a masthead light and prepare to take evasive action immediately.
When you look at the figures you see why one of the prof mariners here (I forget who) is so strong on keeping watch and the invisibility of yachts.
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Old 05-30-2007
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Regardless of type of vessel; sail, freighter, tanker, or fisherman most of these all-around lights are most conveniently rigged as a hoist. Dredges, pilot boats, and the like who regularly display such lights may have a permanent mounting for them. This usually involves two lights being installed for each light required; that is to say, there is a light on one side of the mast and another directly on the opposite side of the mast, equalling one all-around light. It's not the desire to carry the lights that is the rub, it's the rigging of them.

Note: If you get close enough in to a large sea-going ship you may well no longer see his sidelights or masthead/foremast lights. The navigation lights, especially the sidelights, are mounted in a side light box, which prevents glare from the light, reflecting off the ship, mess up the angle at which another can see the light. These were not designed with the idea of sailboats looking for them whilst close aboard. As tjk indicated, your first indication that you may be in such a night-time situation is that it appears to be black as the earl of hell's riding boots in one direction and normally dim in another. This is known as the "blotting out the horizon" phenomena, and it frequently does not end well.(g) In such situations, sound signals are your only remaining method of attracting attention.

With the advent of led' it's not hard to imagine seeing a ring of lights, that would gird the mast, providing an all-around light. It will probably be made first in Portugal, where they are notoriously scared of the dark, and usually position their navigation lights so as to best illuminate their lost bottle of Muscatel. That's why they put the bow pulpit stanchions in front of the sidelights-greater light coverage of the deck! Portugese sailboats look like floating discos at night for that reason. They should be treated as any other vessel displaying all-around red over red.(G)
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  #28  
Old 05-31-2007
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Sailingdog- What I was saying was that when you see just red and green deck lights there is no reason to suspect that it is a sailboat, is there? So why wouldn't you be mistaken for a power vessel, exact same lighting. That makes the argument for the red over green. If you also have a masthead tricolor on, which according to the rules I don't think is legit(not positive on that, anyone have a copy of the rules handy? ) I would hope most people would conclude "sailboat" though. What would you think if you saw deck lights and red over green vertical lights? Even if you did not know what it was you would know it was something "different". As far as the meter seperation, that's about the same height of most VHF antennas so overall height wouldn't increase, and with LED lights and aluminum tubing I'm sure I could put something together that was very light weight and low wind resistance, so I don't see the big problem there. Different strokes for different folks I guess, I'd rather be identified as a sailboat, and if more of us start using red over green, it will be commonplace and well known.

Boasun- Oopsie #1. You are absolutely right, what was I thinking? Thanks for the wakeup call. Oopsie #2. Not sure what you mean, I just said that masthead lights are a pain to replace and add windage, etc., didn't say they were required/not required.
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  #29  
Old 05-31-2007
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The Red/Green all around lights are optional. The white masthead light is when you are under power. Otherwise a sailing vessel is lit up like a barge under tow.
I still don't care for the tricolor mast top light. It is optional also and it is to us to decide on what we want to use... And when there are large ships in the area... We can always mark our position with a flare up light on our sails. What ever it takes to ensure that we are seen... I know that the flare up is used for under 7 meters. But I want to be noticed out there by the watch officers on the other vessels.
Just like at anchor I use the required anchor light and also for easier Identification the deck lights.
One other detail: The merchant marine officers know what the Red/Green lights are. We have to pass the Rules at 90% or higher to hold our licenses.

Last edited by Boasun; 05-31-2007 at 10:30 PM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22
Sailingdog- What I was saying was that when you see just red and green deck lights there is no reason to suspect that it is a sailboat, is there? So why wouldn't you be mistaken for a power vessel, exact same lighting. That makes the argument for the red over green.
Wrong... Might want to read the ColRegs again. A power vessel, including sailboats under power, is required to show a masthead light, which is defined as:

Quote:
Masthead light" means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.
A sailboat under sail only is required to show sidelights (red and green) and a stern light... hence the allowance for a tricolor. If you see a red or green light without a white steaming (masthead) light... then, why would you assume it isn't a boat under sail????

Quote:
If you also have a masthead tricolor on, which according to the rules I don't think is legit(not positive on that, anyone have a copy of the rules handy? )
AFAIK, it is either deck-level sidelights and stern light or a tricolor... not both. Both would be a violation of the ColRegs. BTW, the red over green all-around lights can only be used with deck-level lights, not a tri-color.

Quote:
I would hope most people would conclude "sailboat" though. What would you think if you saw deck lights and red over green vertical lights? Even if you did not know what it was you would know it was something "different". As far as the meter seperation, that's about the same height of most VHF antennas so overall height wouldn't increase, and with LED lights and aluminum tubing I'm sure I could put something together that was very light weight and low wind resistance, so I don't see the big problem there. Different strokes for different folks I guess, I'd rather be identified as a sailboat, and if more of us start using red over green, it will be commonplace and well known.
The other problem you will run into is that in many crowded harbor-type situations, many boaters—especially those on small powerboats—don't look up at all... and probably will not see the red and green vertical lights on the mast...

If they knew what the deck lights were supposed to be... they would know that a plain red or green sidelight, without a steaming light, is a sailboat under sail...

Expecting them to know that a red over green and deck-level lights are for a sailboat, when they don't know a sidelights and a stern light alone are a sailboat is pretty ridiculous.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 05-31-2007 at 10:32 PM.
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