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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.

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Old 10-24-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

If you're going to do LED you need to get legit lights. Getting a incandescent fixture only to replace the bulb with LED is not the way to go as you still have the problem of loose or dirty connections. Get a solid state LED fixture that is all sealed and can't stop working unless it's actually faulty. There is no reason for not getting LED. And if your going to get a mast light and you operate in near coastal or offshore you need to be smart and invest in a commercial LED unit that is bigger and brighter than the west marine specials. I work on a 300ft supply vessel and I can tell you, the mast light is the first and sometimes the only thing you see on a sailboat at night. You'll pay for them but when there is a chance a 600 ft freighter might not see you because you skimped out on your running lights you'll be glad you bought the nicer ones.

Just my opinion, I don't halfass things that protect my life and whoever is on the boat with me.

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Old 10-25-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

M S,
Thanks! That's what I was hoping to hear. The LED steaming light is more bout reliability, and not having to change bulbs. With a Yanmar YSM 12 running, the vibration stress on a tiny tungsten wire would seem to limit bulb life. I'm trying to get to a point where its all preventive maintenance rather than fixing 38 year old worn out stuff.
As a side note any opinion on Bury flex vs. LMR 400 for VHF co-ax? Based on your series, I started looking at the LMR for antenna wire. The bury flex seems to have about the same "numbers" but is designed for a harsh environment ie, underground.
Thanks again for the advice, and all the help you've given over the years.
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Old 10-25-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

i noticed while sailing out here in the biiig ocean that most sailboat nav lights are ambiguous at best.
yes that pricey pos on masthead is not visible or discernible at distances. looks off white at best. so do the close together bow lights.
as for anchoring--it just is not adequate to only have a masthead light.
i have moved my bow lights back to main mast, and 10 ft from water. wide and high. perfect. they even light the jib. perfect.
i use an oil lamp with fresnel lens for anchor light, accompanied by as many garden lights as possible so pangas can see me easily .

if you have problem trying to figger this out, anchor your boat in a decent sized bay. turn on your nav and or anchor lights. go 3 miles away and see what you see from your boat.
but that makes way too much sense for folks to do--they have to argue points unknown in reality.
i KNOW what my lights do. i can see them for miles away.
can you see yours and identify them accurately from 3-5 miles distance????

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formosa 41 and ericson 35mII
cruising tropical mexico at present, working my way southward

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Last edited by zeehag; 10-25-2013 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 10-25-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Old fixture, new bulb. We're right there, right now.
On the crossing from Grenada to Trinidad the port running light quit. Checking it out yesterday, we found some corrosion in the fixture, an Aqua Signal 43 series housing. The housing comes with a good gasket, but still the sea had entered and destroyed a 37.00 dollar led bulb.
I ordered the sealed led set and shall not again consider going "cheap" on something like running lights.
Anybody want to buy a green led bulb? Going once......
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
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Old 11-26-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

I've read this thread. Here are my thoughts. I really think there is no substitute for good LED nav lights on any yacht. They are just better, brighter, and outlast anything else. Lights with bulbs are prone to failure.

I do not agree with those who say masthead lights are no good. In my experience (over 40,000 miles) they can be seen from further away than lower lights, and are less exposed to the salt and corrosion issues. Deck level lights are very poor in any sort of a seaway, and the leeward one is often close to sea level!

If you are concerned about collisions while at anchor, consider this, re the "not looking up" argument. If you are one boat / mast length away, the light is 45 deg up, 4 boat lengths, 22.5 deg up, and in the normal range of vision. If you are paranoid, add some additional lights at deck level by all means - but good ones, with at least 2NM range, NOT solar garden lights - they have a really poor range.

We use a Optolamp Amazonia Mirim Tri Color lamp. It is an anchor/strobe/tricolor all in one unit, 50,000 hrs mean time between failures LED light that draws less than 0.15a at 12v. Many of our fellow cruisers have bought one of these after seeing our one. It has a built in light sensor, and will turn itself on at night, and off in the daytime. The whole thing runs on 3 wires. It is simply the best unit I've seen, which is why I resell it!

Have a look on my website if you are interested.

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Old 11-26-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Here is a good cockpit or foretriangle anchor light from Davis.

Mega-Light? Utility by Davis

Not expensive - 49.95 - and has auto on/off, 2 miles visibility.

That have others that include red lighting as well.
Living aboard in Victoria Harbour
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Old 01-03-2014
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

I use LED lights exclusively for a number of reasons. They are more efficient and more reliable. But mostly they also cut through haze more effectively. There is an unmistakable spookiness to LED lights if you know what I'm trying to say. Maybe it's their phase or something. But I consider them far more visible than incandescent bulbs which are also more likely to blend in with back ground lights.

As far as avoiding collisions, hopefully everyone is using every available means than just looking for a light. And no one should be careening through an anchorage at night without a proper lookout on the bow.

At anchor I usually keep my spreader lights on all night too as the party doesn't stop until 6 in the morning.
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