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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

On my boat, the running lights are on the mast head and there is a white steaming light somewhere on the mast below them.

When I bought my boat the surveyor told me that having the colored running lights above the white steaming light was not a legal configuration.

For people who mount the running lights on the mast head, how do you get a legal light config with the steaming light?
 

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I don't believe that there is any way to legally use a masthead tri-light when motoring.

For boats 12 metres and less under power:
(Australia)"Masthead or white all round light shall be carried at least 1 metre above the sidelights."

(US)Powerboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 1 n.m., placed above hull at least 1 meter (3.3') below masthead light. Masthead: white, 225°, visible 2 n.m., at least 1 meter above side lights. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m. OR, one all-round (360°) white light (should also have sidelights).

For boats 12-20 metres under power:
(Australia)"The masthead light shall be carried at least 2.5 metres above the gunwale. Combined sidelights shall be carried at least 1 metre below the masthead light. "

(US)
Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 2 n.m., placed above hull at least 1 meter (3.3') below masthead light. Masthead: white, 225°, visible 3 n.m., at least 1 meter above side lights. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m.
 

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I run with this:

<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td> Aqua Series 32 Tri-Color LED Light</td><td> </td></tr></tbody></table>
from Aqua... I had the regular bulb version but lens were busted so went the next step. Keep the documentation that comes with with the purchase and you are good to go...Meets all of the requirements for mast head all around etc..BTW never confuse the steaming light which runs forward on the mast (usually coupled with the working light - mid point on the mast) with the stern light which runs / shows aft..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
(US)Powerboats-Separate or combination red and green sidelights, 112.5°, visible 1 n.m., placed above hull at least 1 meter (3.3') below masthead light. Masthead: white, 225°, visible 2 n.m., at least 1 meter above side lights. White stern light, 135°, visible 2 n.m. OR, one all-round (360°) white light (should also have sidelights).
Okay my boat is 30 feet. Does this mean that all I need is a a red/green side lights on the bow and a 360 degree white light at the mast head, and this is legal under sail or power?

Or is this just legal under power?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I run with this:

<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td> Aqua Series 32 Tri-Color LED Light</td><td> </td></tr></tbody></table>
from Aqua... I had the regular bulb version but lens were busted so went the next step. Keep the documentation that comes with with the purchase and you are good to go...Meets all of the requirements for mast head all around etc..BTW never confuse the steaming light which runs forward on the mast (usually coupled with the working light - mid point on the mast) with the stern light which runs / shows aft..
Thanks Jody, I see this unit is USCG approved, but I am confused. It appears to have a white 360 degree light above the red/green, but like an inch above.

If the mast head light is required to be at least 1 meter above the colored side lights, how does this meet legal requirements?
 

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Thanks Jody, I see this unit is USCG approved, but I am confused. It appears to have a white 360 degree light above the red/green, but like an inch above.

If the mast head light is required to be at least 1 meter above the colored side lights, how does this meet legal requirements?
To be honest do not know - its approved by the USCG, and they follow the ABYC guidelines [Edit it is ABYC approved] for the most part.. It could be it fits because of angle of viewing the seperation meets the viewing angle required? As long as it is approved here in the states - then I am willing to rock with it...you can always run with it and mount a proper stern light at the stern.
 

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As I understand it your side/stern lights must be below the steaming light, People I know with a mast head tri color also have deck level lights to use while under power. The all around light on your mast head is for anchoring>

David
 

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Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats
Navigation Rules
Require vessels to display lights and shapes under certain conditions.
Navigation Lights
Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and other periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.). The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules, International-Inland, specifies lighting requirements for every description of water craft. The information provided is for power-driven and sailing vessels less than 65.5 feet/20 meters in length.
Power-driven Vessels
(Sail Vessel under machinery power is considered a power-driven vessel).
If your power-driven vessel is less than 65.5 feet/20 meters in length, then it must display navigation lights per Figure 1.

Figure 1
If your power-driven vessel is less than 39.4 feet/12 meters in length, then it may display navigation lights per Figure 2.

Figure 2
If your power-driven vessel is less than 23 feet/7 meters in length and its maximum speed cannot exceed 7 knots, then it may display an all-round white light, and if practicable, sidelights instead of the lights prescribed previously. (For International Rules only)
For power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet/12 meters in length, the masthead or all-round white light must be at least 1 meter above the sidelights.
Sidelights may be a combination light, instead of two separate lights as shown in figures 2 and 5.
Sailing Vessels
If your sailing vessel is less than 65.6 feet/20 meters in length, then it must display navigation lights as shown in Figures 3, 4, or 5.

<TABLE class=bodyfont width="70%" align=center><!--DWLayoutTable--><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width=141 height=154>

Figure 3​
</TD><TD vAlign=top width=130>

Figure 4​
</TD><TD vAlign=top width=134>

Figure 5​
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>If your vessel is less than 23 feet/7 meters in length, then it should display lights for a sailboat (Figures 3,4,or 5, if practicle). As an option, your vessel may carry an electric torch (flashlight) or lightened lantern that can show a white light in sufficient time to prevent collision. (see Figure 6)

Figure 6​
Vessel Under Oars
If your vessel is under oars, then it should display lights for a sailboat (Figures 3 or 4), if practicle. As an option, your vessel your vessel may carry a flashlight or lighted lantern that can show a white light in sufficient time to prevent collision. (see Figure 7)

Figure 7​
Lights and Shapes
To alert other vessels of conditions, which may be hazardous, there are requirements to display lights at night and shapes during the day.
Anchored Vessels
AT NIGHT: All vessels at anchor must display anchor lights. If your vessel is less than 164 feet/50 meters in length, then its anchor light is an all-round white light visible where it can best be seen from all directions. (Figure 8)

Figure 8

DURING THE DAY: All vessels at anchor must display, forward where it can be best seen, a black ball shape. (See Figure 9)

Figure 9
EXCEPTIONS: If your vessel is less than 23 feet/7 meters in length, then it is not required to display an anchor light or shape unless it is anchored in or near a narrow channel, fairway or anchorage, or where other vessels normally navigate.
If your vessel is less than 65.6 feet/20 meters in length, then it is not required to display an anchor light if it is anchored in Inland Waters in a special anchorage designated by the Secretary of Transportation.
Sailing Vessels Under Power (Machinery)
During the day, vessels under sail also being propelled by machinery, must exhibit forward, where best seen, a black conical shape with the apex pointing down. (Figure 10)​

Figure 10​
EXCEPTION: If your vessel is less than 39.4 feet/12 meters in length, then it is not required to display the shape in Inland Waters.
REMINDER: If you are operating your sail vessel at night using machinery or sail and machinery, then your vessel must display lights required for a power-driven vessel. (See figures 1 or 2)​
 

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To clarify—

For a boat the size of yours, under sail, you need:


A bow bicolor or red/green sidelights and a stern light



or you can use a masthead tricolor, but not both... the tricolor is in lieu of the bicolor and stern light



Under power you need:

A bow bicolor or red/green sidelights, a stern light and a steaming light— and the steaming light must be at least ONE METER above the bicolor/sidelights.



or you can use a bow bicolor or red/green sidelights with an all-around white masthead light. The all around white masthead light is in lieu of the stern light and steaming light, and must be above the bicolor/sidelights.




Okay my boat is 30 feet. Does this mean that all I need is a a red/green side lights on the bow and a 360 degree white light at the mast head, and this is legal under sail or power?

Or is this just legal under power?
 

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Dog,

Just to pull this thread a pinch further.

Do we need a mast head white light when anchored at night on a boat under 30'?

My mast has a white light mounted about 7 or 8 feet above the deck facing the bow. What is it for?
 

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...My mast has a white light mounted about 7 or 8 feet above the deck facing the bow. What is it for?

Don,

That light you mention is your "steaming" light. It is used in conjunction with your deck level running lights at night when motoring.
 

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I seems you need new lights, and a copy of Chapmans (or equivalent)

Really, a good sailing reference is useful for even the oldest of salts.

My guess is that the mid-mast light includes a deck light and was never really meant as a steaming light. They generally come in that combination. Or it was a screw-up.

I have seen people use an anchor light/masthead tri-color; The anchor light is not bright enough and the result is difficult to interpret. Nearly impossible, for my eyes.

The real importance of this is in high traffic waters where confusing lights can make boats look like something they are not. You're going to look "kind of" like a fishing boat, tending nets, I think. I would find the lights confusing. That gives you right-of-way you do not have and could force an accident, since I have to assume you cannot maneuver. Think of the position a large commercial ship faces - he has to avoid you, even at risk of running aground. That's not fair.

You need to sail at night near a port to understand how important correct lights are. If you memorize nothing else, learn the lights for a tow - you don't want to get between a tug and its barge.
 

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Your surveyor is correct. The tri-color light can ony be used when under sail; in that useage it is approved. As soon as you start your engine you should have your red/green sidelights lower than the steaming light.
Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks everyone. That indicates that for my 30 foot boat, I'll need a tri-color on the mast head, and all-around white on the mast head and red/green side lights at the bow. The all around white can double as anchor light and steaming light.

Alternatively I can get a single white all around for the mast head and put side lights on the bow and a white on the stern.

I guess if you have an engine, there is no way around having side lights on the deck. Thats frustrating, because the PO actually removed the lights on the bow, figuring that moving them to the mast head creates better visibility. Of course it does, but the rules are the rules :(

Well its not that hard to install new lights. I already have piles of copper going up the mast anyhow. Lets see, there is a spreader light, a strobe light, running lights, anchor light... Plenty of stuff up there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Actually, after looking at Dog's post more carefully, maybe I'll remove all the lights from the mast head, convert the spreader light to a steaming light (if it is not already) and put lights on bow and stern.

Is there any reason there is a strobe light on the mast head?
 

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Actually, you may need stern lights also...

Actually, after looking at Dog's post more carefully, maybe I'll remove all the lights from the mast head, convert the spreader light to a steaming light (if it is not already) and put lights on bow and stern.

Is there any reason there is a strobe light on the mast head?
If you remove the anchor light... which you need anyway. The mid-mast light will not show aft and thus is not a stand-alone steaming light.

I believe the anchor light will serve for both - needs to be 10 watts (or equivalent).
 

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Actually, after looking at Dog's post more carefully, maybe I'll remove all the lights from the mast head, convert the spreader light to a steaming light (if it is not already) and put lights on bow and stern.

Is there any reason there is a strobe light on the mast head?
I think your best bet is to leave the mast-top tri-color in place, and add the deck lights (as well as the steaming light if you don't already have it -- but sounds like you do). Folks pay a lot of money to install the tri-color, and it can be used while sailing, so why dump it? It is a nice feature to have the option of using either/or.

We had some good discussions on this topic:

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-...r-steaming-masthead-light-only-nav-light.html

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/51965-red-over-green.html

As for the strobe, to the best of my knowledge, it is not a legal light signal for any boat. The only time you'd use it is to attract Search and Rescue (SAR) when you are in dire peril and you no longer give a flip about being legally compliant.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I think your best bet is to leave the mast-top tri-color in place, and add the deck lights (as well as the steaming light if you don't already have it -- but sounds like you do). Folks pay a lot of money to install the tri-color, and it can be used while sailing, so why dump it? It is a nice feature to have the option of using either/or.
Well I have another reason to pull the mast, so I was looking at replacing the lights with LED lights for battery life, and that led me down the path of rethinking the lighting configuration.

If they were LEDs I would leave them.
 
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