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post #11 of 66 Old 03-06-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

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If you care to risk your life and the lives of any others you might have aboard your vessel to someone else complying with what's mandatory or even expected, then that certainly is your choice.
Yes, we risk our lives by having legal navigation lights and AIS. What other choice do we have?

I fail to understand the basis of your argument that a commercial ship not broadcasting and monitoring AIS is more likely than a watch stander not seeing a navigation light 3' off the water on a small boat in large seas. As for "real life", a commercial ship will be put out of business by doing what you suggest.

I can tell you for sure that our AIS has been far more useful to other boats than our navigation lights.

Your experiences not withstanding.

As for computing CPA and sticking with your eyes, you related a story where you failed to do just that professionally, but blamed it on a masthead light instead of deck-level lights.

Wouldn't have happened with AIS.

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post #12 of 66 Old 03-06-2019
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post #13 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

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..... I ran back out to the bridge wing and saw the yacht slide by my hull about 15 feet away!.....
Wow, reading this I am absolutely chilled to the bone !

thanks for your perspective on this. I've never been on the bridge of a large commercial ship and had no idea what we look like to them. I always assumed "bright light, taller the better". The notion of a disembodied light waving back and forth puts things in perspective. And your point that deck level lights are seen in the reflection on the sails, hull and spray makes sense, and I had never considered it.

that said, I'm not sure which set of nav lights I'll choose next time out, but you have given me a lot to think about.
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post #14 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

I have to admit, while I agree with the premise of the OP, I think deck lighting is very old fashioned and fairly ineffective technology. It does require electricity, after all, so it isn't like it's a natural solution. When studying for my Captain license, I found it arcane to have to memorize the light patterns. Ridiculous really.

Personally, any good light on a ship at night is appreciated, so I can tell they are there, if I had no other solution. I get annoyed at folks not following the rules, because I worry there are others they don't know or don't care about too. Admittedly, however, we all make unwitting mistakes too.

However, a modern digital radar can identify lobster pots in the water, so there is no reason to think it can't identify a recreational sailboat. That wasn't always the case. Add AIS, and I'm a supporter of making it mandatory for night ops, anything offshore, or in a shipping channel, and this problem is solved.
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post #15 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

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However, a modern digital radar can identify lobster pots in the water, so there is no reason to think it can't identify a recreational sailboat. That wasn't always the case.
Yes, modern radars are a step above the older ones, but still a technology which most don't know how to use well. Couple that with many current radars don't do ARPA well, and that a small sailboat in only medium sized waves does not present much of a target return - lends radar less likely to be reliable compared to AIS or even running lights.

FWIW, we have an excellent radar system that does ARPA extremely well, and we know how to use it to full advantage. We consider our radar a vital piece of navigation equipment. However, I would rather count on the other boats having AIS and eyeballs than a having good radar and operating knowledge of it.

Mark
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post #16 of 66 Old 03-07-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Masthead tricolors

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I have to admit, while I agree with the premise of the OP, I think deck lighting is very old fashioned and fairly ineffective technology. It does require electricity, after all, so it isn't like it's a natural solution. When studying for my Captain license, I found it arcane to have to memorize the light patterns. Ridiculous really.

Personally, any good light on a ship at night is appreciated, so I can tell they are there, if I had no other solution. I get annoyed at folks not following the rules, because I worry there are others they don't know or don't care about too. Admittedly, however, we all make unwitting mistakes too.

However, a modern digital radar can identify lobster pots in the water, so there is no reason to think it can't identify a recreational sailboat. That wasn't always the case. Add AIS, and I'm a supporter of making it mandatory for night ops, anything offshore, or in a shipping channel, and this problem is solved.
I see dozens of vessels a week down here that I would bet the farm on, that don't have AIS. From the 40 odd foot longliners who are almost all improperly lit to the 70-90 foot ex-shrimpers carrying cargo between the islands and even larger cargo vessels that are certainly not IMO compliant, expecting them to have a modern bit of gear like AIS is foolhardy, IMO.
Just a few years ago I watched a ferry leaving Bequia for St Vincent one evening and saw a huge fireball rise 20 feet out of the aft car deck. The ferry, an old European car ferry somewhere around 100 feet, carrying something like 70 people, went completely dark but managed to turn around and anchor in the outer harbor. Not one light, no backup batteries on the bridge for the VHF radio nor a backup generator on the upper decks as is common commercial shipping today.
Anyway, with a fire aft, the passengers and crew had to disembark from the 20+ high foredeck on a rope (can you imagine all those big West Indian women sliding down a rope to an inflatable below?) as they hadn't even a ladder for this eventuality. Or lifeboats and the rescue was carried out by yachties in their inflatables.
So, as I said above, everyone has a choice, to either rely on the other guy doing the legal, correct or even sensible thing or take responsibility for their own safety and expecting nothing intelligent from the other vessels around them.
How quickly we forget incidents like the Costa Concordia and believe that just because it's a big fancy, expensive vessel, it is manned by halfway intelligent human beings?
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post #17 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

You can bring a horse to water but you can't make her think.

Though the water is regulated... it's also seen as a environment of *personal freedom* that the old wild west. Most know and follow the rules and sensible behavior. Too many don't and size is not the determinant as the Costa Concordia or the Exxon Valdez demonstrate.

An intelligent sailor or boater or mariner knows where to find the information these days... all now accessible from a smart phone they carry 24/7.

There dumb and willful ignorance and a fair amount who can't afford what they need and punt.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #18 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

I understand the argument that not every boat is manned by watchful and knowledgeable people, and I agree with that. However, it undercuts the argument that masthead lights are ineffective, as well as the argument that simultaneous operation of masthead and deck lights is stupid.

It argues for lighting your boat up like a christmas tree with every light on board. And playing loud music. Colregs be damned.

(Maybe Disney agrees with me?)

I'm still looking for a well-reasoned argument against masthead lights, and not a series of tangentially-related anecdotes that do not involve masthead lights. Particularly anecdotes that describe unreasonably stupid or careless people or reasonably unlikely events.

My first priority is to avoid these type of navigation situations. For this I rely on my running lights (masthead under sail) and my AIS transponder to broadcast the most information about me the farthest I can, as well as my AIS, eyeballs, and radar to provide me as much information as possible.

I trust my information input over my output, and take proaction myself. I consider my actual running lights to be the weakest link, and the deck lights weaker than the masthead.

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Re: Masthead tricolors

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I understand the argument that not every boat is manned by watchful and knowledgeable people, and I agree with that. However, it undercuts the argument that masthead lights are ineffective, as well as the argument that simultaneous operation of masthead and deck lights is stupid.

It argues for lighting your boat up like a christmas tree with every light on board. And playing loud music. Colregs be damned.

(Maybe Disney agrees with me?)

I'm still looking for a well-reasoned argument against masthead lights, and not a series of tangentially-related anecdotes that do not involve masthead lights. Particularly anecdotes that describe unreasonably stupid or careless people or reasonably unlikely events.

My first priority is to avoid these type of navigation situations. For this I rely on my running lights (masthead under sail) and my AIS transponder to broadcast the most information about me the farthest I can, as well as my AIS, eyeballs, and radar to provide me as much information as possible.

I trust my information input over my output, and take proaction myself. I consider my actual running lights to be the weakest link, and the deck lights weaker than the masthead.

Mark
A masthead light is the STEAMING LIGHT.... ON a sailboat it is not at the top of the mast... above halfway to 2/3 up from the deck. The lights at the TOP of the mast would be an anchor light or a tricolor. If you are motoring the masthead light is to be lit.

What is the rule for for port and starboard lights for motoring? Can you use the tri color and the masthead?

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #20 of 66 Old 03-07-2019
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Re: Masthead tricolors

OK, sorry. I meant tricolor mounted on the top of the mast. It is an under sail only light.

When motoring, it is the deck mounted nav lights and the white light halfway up the mast, which you are referring to as the masthead light, while I always think of it the steaming light (on our boat, I have the deck mounted nav lights and the masthead light on the same circuit labeled "steaming lights").

The tricolor is not used for motoring, although I am often guilty of forgetting to turn it off when turning on the steaming lights as I drop sails just outside an anchorage to enter at night.

This bit of understandable forgetfulness at a period of much activity transitioning between sail and power, resulting in a boat coming into an anchorage with both its tricolor and deck mounted nav lights on, is why I ignore complaints about it from others already at anchor.

Mark
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