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post #35 of Old 03-08-2019
Damon Gannon
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Re: Masthead tricolors

About 10 years ago, we were sailing overnight from Key West to Naples. At about 3:00 AM, southwest of Cape Romano, I saw a single light ahead. It started out red then appeared to turn yellow. This got my attention because of what a yellow light could signify (pop quiz: What does a yellow light indicate?). I kept looking at it but my sleep-deprived mind couldn't figure out what it was. A single yellow light, no other lights. We had just sailed by this location a couple of weeks earlier, so I knew that there wasn't a private buoy at this location. I woke up my wife to come on deck. Eventually we realized it was a tri-color light of a boat that was wallowing in the swell. We would alternately see the red and white as the boat rolled, making the light appear yellow. We arrived in Naples early the following day. Another boat pulled up to the city dock several hours after us and we overheard them talking about how uncomfortable their night at anchor had been. Rather than sailing overnight or heaving-to, they had anchored offshore in the shallow waters and left their tricolor light on rather than turning on their anchor light. This experience has made me very skeptical of tricolor lights. I agree with Capta.
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