A brilliant idea! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-24-2017 Thread Starter
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A brilliant idea!

Lately, I've been seeing sailing vessels coming into the anchorages of the Windward Islands at night, their red and green navigation lights on the lower spreaders of their main mast.
What a great idea!
After my nearly fatal (for the sailboat) encounter with a disembodied red or green (I don't remember which) masthead tricolor light, as I ran my freighter south through the Anagada Channel I have known, without a shadow of doubt, that masthead tricolors were extremely dangerous.
Being mounted on the spreaders these running lights will give some height above the water, as a masthead tricolor does without the light being only a disembodied dot doing silly circles in the sky, somewhere ahead in the dark. Under sail, it will shine on the sails, not only indicating that what one is seeing is indeed a sailing vessel under sail (not some idiot who forgot his steaming light), but also give some indication of the size of that vessel and her speed. Under power they can be seen by another vessel as one enters an anchorage, even if there is an anchored vessel between us.
I'm going to add these lights to Skipping Stone when I drop the mast next year! I'll run my bow lights when under sail, until I want another vessel to see me, if the spreader mounted lights cause me problems with reflected light on the sails. But having the option seems to be the answer to being seen when I want to be.
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"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #2 of 7 Old 05-24-2017
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Re: A brilliant idea!

If you are off the wind enough, will your foresail or staysail blanket the light?
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-24-2017
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Re: A brilliant idea!

Why not shine a white light in the sails? If you keep it dim enough, and shine it high enough on the sails, it might help with the disembodiment problem without hurting your night vision too much.
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Re: A brilliant idea!

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Originally Posted by Barquito View Post
If you are off the wind enough, will your foresail or staysail blanket the light?
I would imagine they would light up one's headsails marvelously! It would be like some phantasm coming at you in the dark, at sea. But as I said, I would still have my running lights on the pulpit for times when the spreader mounted lights were inconvenient.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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post #5 of 7 Old 05-24-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: A brilliant idea!

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Originally Posted by meteuz View Post
Why not shine a white light in the sails? If you keep it dim enough, and shine it high enough on the sails, it might help with the disembodiment problem without hurting your night vision too much.
In over half a century at sea I have done that more than a few times. It actually works very, very well. And nothing dim about it! The brightest light possible works just fine. I remember one evening in particular, approaching STT, when we were surrounded by 9 cruise ships, where it worked magnificently.
However, after seeing these vessels enter anchorages I'm mightily impressed with this idea and just wanted to pass it on. Take or leave it at your pleasure, but for safety's sake, do not rely on a masthead tricolor as a definitive means of collision avoidance!

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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Last edited by capta; 05-24-2017 at 01:05 PM.
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Re: A brilliant idea!

Sounds interesting but without looking at COLREGS...Is that legal?

Another option might just be to put two small LED floods on the spreaders, aimed UP at the upper portion of the sail so they light you up without throwing a lot of light in your eyes.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-25-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: A brilliant idea!

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Sounds interesting but without looking at COLREGS...Is that legal?

Another option might just be to put two small LED floods on the spreaders, aimed UP at the upper portion of the sail so they light you up without throwing a lot of light in your eyes.
Night before last I saw them on a mega-sailing yacht somewhere around 180 feet. I hardly think they'd risk running around with illegal lights that would invalidate their insurance policy.
I've seen them on a 70 odd foot charter cat and several other sailing vessels of various sizes, as well.

"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

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