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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    498

    Default Lights while sailing at night

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Greenwich
    Posts
    6,914

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Interesting observation re the Solent - although we don't sail there now we do a lot of coastal sailing and when a mile or more offshore I tend to use the tricolour. It still is more visible from further away.

    But agree completely re the stern light - my bugbear is people who hang fenders over the stern light so it appears and disappears as they swing about. Being in the Med I don't mind about people with davits, they just need to be slightly pitied for choosing to hang their car across their front door.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    34,947

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Same applies to anchor lights at the masthead - if you see the light, then on a dark night it's hard to picture what piece of water it's above. And at close range and looking forwards instead of upwards, it's very easy to not even see the light in the first place if it's at the top of a tall mast.

    There's a forum regular (I forget who) whose boat was badly damaged and nearly sunk because of this.

    Ten to twenty feet above the deck, with a bit of light shed downwards to gently illuminate the hull, is best. Above the foredeck rather than aft is traditional.

    Pete

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Fareham
    Posts
    6,461

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    It is sadly common in the Solent to see tricolour, steaming light, and deck level lights all on at the same time.
    ۞

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    34,426

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    My pet hate is ensigns on sticks flapping around the stern light.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Gosport : Boat Soon to be Gosport
    Posts
    1,588

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Can I add, RIBs with lights on a stern gantry which are shilded by the occupants!! Nothing to see as the big black thing hurtles towards you .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Solent, UK
    Posts
    4,507

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Mea Culpa regarding my stern light. It's small, short and at deck level and almost anything obscures it, especially the ensign. It's not easy to know what to do about this. I tried one of those Temporary lamps on the pushpit to see how effective it was. It still ran a high risk of being obscured by the ensign and eventually slipped round so that it was pointing towards the water: all this in the time it takes to complete a cross channel crossing which was started in daylight.

    Mind you, spotting the nav lights on commercial craft at sea is often made difficult by deck lighting that is several orders of magnitude brighter. Stern lights? Forget them.
    Grow old disgracefully, it's more fun

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    34,947

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Topcat47 View Post
    Mind you, spotting the nav lights on commercial craft at sea is often made difficult by deck lighting that is several orders of magnitude brighter. Stern lights? Forget them.
    Sidelights are certainly often hard to pick out. At least the vessel's existence is nice and obvious, though .

    Generally the masthead lights are pretty clear even with a blaze of deck lights, and they tell you which way it's going.

    Pete

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    5,047

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    Quote Originally Posted by Topcat47 View Post
    Mea Culpa regarding my stern light. It's small, short and at deck level and almost anything obscures it, especially the ensign. It's not easy to know what to do about this. I tried one of those Temporary lamps on the pushpit to see how effective it was. It still ran a high risk of being obscured by the ensign and eventually slipped round so that it was pointing towards the water: all this in the time it takes to complete a cross channel crossing which was started in daylight.

    Mind you, spotting the nav lights on commercial craft at sea is often made difficult by deck lighting that is several orders of magnitude brighter. Stern lights? Forget them.
    I put an elastic band around mine, though an ensign purist would of course strike his ensign at dusk

    Fully agree with what you say about commercial vessels.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Southminster, essex
    Posts
    8,668

    Default Re: Lights while sailing at night

    deleted
    It is all down to the fact that my wife does not understand me !!

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