I've done an awful lot of night sailing in my time in the Solent and across channel.

I drive power now but what i see is still an issue.

Please do not use masthead lights while in the Solent of other such busy areas. Use your lower deck lights.

There is a simple reason for this that i shall explain. On a really dark night a lower light to the sea appears to be nearer than it is while a higher one appears to be further away. I'm often on the red funnel car ferry and i often see masthead lights on and judging the distance is hard while deck lights makes it easy.

Obviously its up to you what you do but i only use my mast head lights when offshore and away from lots of other traffic. If you don't believe me have a look next time you are out at night.

Another issue that I've often seen is the stern light. A few months ago i was doing 10kts at night on a very dark night with nothing insight in front of me. Then the yacht on front changed course and i saw her stern light. Over half the arc of it was covered by a dingy on snap davits on the stern.

Next time you are put and about just have a look at yachts that have a transom full of stuff and see if their light is obscured..its quite common sadly!

The above is the result of over 20 years of sailing in very busy waters.