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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

I purchased some new LED Nav lights to replace the ones that have 35 year old lenses and likely are not really visible at the rated distance.

I was about to put the new ones in the same location as the current lights but I noticed that when I drop my foresail it almost always covers up one of the lights. The lights are located on the sides of the coach roof near the forward fixed port lights.

I am trying to decide where I can put them to provide height above the water, good distance between the two (I think this makes red/green at the same time easier to see from a distance) and that will not be covered up by the sail.

Mounting on the bow rail seems like a good idea, but I am not sure how I would run the wires up and what I would use for the actual mounts.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Scott.
 

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Keep in mind that the COLREGS require you to have "side lights" not a "bow light." You can put the lights anywhere you want including on the stern as long as they are visable from dead ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam. Most big ships actually have their side lights on the house in the stern of the vessel - confusing for boaters who think they are "bow lights" mounted on the bow. In many older boats the side lights were mounted into the hull just below the deck near the bow. The problem with this location is that they took a beating from the waves and generally leaked water into the hull.

Most modern sailboats mount a combined side light on the bow in front of the furler. This prevents it from being masked by the sail.
 

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Keep in mind that the COLREGS require you to have "side lights" not a "bow light."
The Colregs are not concerned whether it is a bow light or side lights as long as they are visible through the required arc. They can be separate side lights on the coachroof (bad idea on most sailboats), separate lights on each side of the bow pulpit (good except for power draw as there are 2 bulbs) or a combined light in the center of the bow pulpit (best).
 

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The Colregs are not concerned whether it is a bow light or side lights as long as they are visible through the required arc. They can be separate side lights on the coachroof (bad idea on most sailboats), separate lights on each side of the bow pulpit (good except for power draw as there are 2 bulbs) or a combined light in the center of the bow pulpit (best).
With the low amperage that LEDs draw, the advantage of having a red/green combined bow light (versus separate side lights) is pretty minimal.
 

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With the low amperage that LEDs draw, the advantage of having a red/green combined bow light (versus separate side lights) is pretty minimal.
Really - extra wiring, 2 lights to get damaged with a spinnaker pole or something else instead of one are other reasons. Simpler is usually better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Personally I have found it easier to tell when I am dead-ahead of a boat when there is some distance between the port and starboard nav lights.

In my opinion a red and green touching each other is harder to identify as red AND green. The more distance between the two the sooner you can see that there are clearly two separate lights coming right at you. This is especially true with older combination lights where you might actually see some 'yellow' coming through the gaps between the lenses.

I am not color blind, but I assume if one was red/green colorblind then it would be impossible to tell without some distance between the lights.

So I am not sold on the single red/green light at the bow.

Scott.
 

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It is worthwhile to remember "height of eye." Visibility is blocked by the curvature of the earth. The closer the lights are to sea level (and the observer too!) the closer one has to be to see the lights. The normal compromise on a sailboat it to mount the lights (one dual or two separate) at the top of the lifeline rail, usually in front of the jib. This is the "normal compromise." Since LED lights draw so little power one might also stack two red and two green lights. That way if one burns out the other will still be illuminated. Of course since the lights - which cost a few dollars to make - sell at the price of your first born child this might not work for you!

Then there is the problem of waves obscuring the lights. This is not generally a big problem in lake and near coastal sailing but in the open ocean it can be significant. Most open ocean sailors solve this problem with a tricolor light on the top of the mast. (Remember, if you have all the deck and cockpit lights out the only light the guy about to hit you can see is one light - red, green, or white!!!)

That brings me (off topic) to anchor lights. The normal location for an anchor light on a sailboat is the top of the mast. Great 360 degree visibility. The fact that the anchor light looks like another star in the sky obviously never dawned on the people who write the COLREGS. Most of us put some kind of light (again, LED's make it easy) on deck level. After all, the guy coming into the anchorage is looking at where he is going, not star gazing.

Fair winds and following seas:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The normal compromise on a sailboat it to mount the lights (one dual or two separate) at the top of the lifeline rail, usually in front of the jib. This is the "normal compromise."
Thanks for the response.

I would like to do this, but I have been unable to come up with a way to get the lights mounted and the wires run up to this location. Do you have some suggestions? I dont really want to just have wires attached to outside of the rail with cable 'zip' ties.

I attached an example of how a combination light can look "yellow" to me which is also an example of how I DO NOT want the wires to be installed :)

Scott.
 

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