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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Cornwall - top end :-)
    Posts
    76

    Default Confused about navigation lights......

    Hello all

    First time caller here :-)

    Can someone clear something up for me please. I have a 28ft boat. What is the bare bones navigation lights it needs to sail at night - I'm not talking ideal and appropriate because I want to be safe, but I'm talking bare bones?

    The reason I am confused is that some sites state that you need to show, on a boat less than x metres, the tricolour mast lights - no steaming light or pulpit and stern lights.

    What is the real facts please.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    2,162

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    The ColRegs, published in scores of boaty books and online, are clear but the formal language used tends to confuse.

    Simply, to SAIL at night you/we are required to show forward, a port ( red ) light and a starboard ( green ) light, of specified brightness providing the relevant arcs of visibility ( 112.5 + 112.5 ). These may be combined in a single lantern. Additionally, a stern ( white ) light of specified brightness providing the relevant arc of visibility. ( 135 - easily looked up online ). Call these the 'low level lights'....

    These MAY be combined in a single masthead 'tricolour' lantern. ( red/white/green )

    Further, if motoring, the single masthead 'tricolour' light is not approved. In that event, a 'steaming' white light is required in addition to the 'low level lights' with the same arc of visibility as the port/starboard red/green lights. This further white light is - confusingly - called the 'masthead light' in the language of the Regulations. It doen not need to be at the masthead of a sailing vessel, and is usually mounted on the front of the mast, just above spreader height.

    All this is easily seen by looking along the pontoons in any marina.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,075

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by Alskade View Post
    Hello all

    First time caller here :-)

    Can someone clear something up for me please. I have a 28ft boat. What is the bare bones navigation lights it needs to sail at night - I'm not talking ideal and appropriate because I want to be safe, but I'm talking bare bones?

    The reason I am confused is that some sites state that you need to show, on a boat less than x metres, the tricolour mast lights - no steaming light or pulpit and stern lights.

    What is the real facts please

    Thanks in advance.
    You must surely know of the Colregs . (The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea). I would expect you to own a copy! Your questions are all answered in there in simple language. If you don't own a copy order one from the RYA now.



    On line the best place to find the latest and up to date version, complete with the relevant appendices, is probably on the Coastguard website http://www.collisionregs.com/MSN1781.pdf

    The minimum you need under sail is either a tricolour, or port and starboard side lights and a stern light ( The P&S may be combined into a single "bicolour)

    Under power you need P&S ( which may be combined) a stern light and a forward facing white "masthed" light ( colloquially known as a "steaming" light). The stern light and the "steaming" light maybe combined into a single all-round white light

    This diagram may help you to understand . It shows the alternative legal combinations for vessels up to 12 m



    I also have to mention that vessels under 7 m with max speed of 7 knots may exhibit just an all-round white , or some irritating, pedantic, Scottish Open University lecturer formerly known as Ubergeekian, and Doctor Megaphone on BBC TV for the under fives, will.

    Here is another more pictorial representation ( not mine) but note the "either" on the second diagram for sailboats ( either tricolour or bicolour and stern lights)

    Last edited by VicS; 18-04-19 at 15:06.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    13,794

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by Alskade View Post
    What is the real facts please.
    Welcome to the forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by zoidberg View Post
    The ColRegs, published in scores of boaty books and online, are clear but the formal language used tends to confuse.

    Simply, to SAIL at night you/we are required to show forward, a port ( red ) light and a starboard ( green ) light, of specified brightness providing the relevant arcs of visibility ( 112.5 + 112.5 ). These may be combined in a single lantern. Additionally, a stern ( white ) light of specified brightness providing the relevant arc of visibility. ( 135 - easily looked up online ). Call these the 'low level lights'....

    These MAY be combined in a single masthead 'tricolour' lantern. ( red/white/green )

    Further, if motoring, the single masthead 'tricolour' light is not approved. In that event, a 'steaming' white light is required in addition to the 'low level lights' with the same arc of visibility as the port/starboard red/green lights. This further white light is - confusingly - called the 'masthead light' in the language of the Regulations. It doen not need to be at the masthead of a sailing vessel, and is usually mounted on the front of the mast, just above spreader height.

    All this is easily seen by looking along the pontoons in any marina.
    What zoidberg said.

    You can buy some "emergency lights" like these

    https://www.force4.co.uk/force-4-eme...YaAriEEALw_wcB

    Other suppliers are available.

    Some people of this parish are not keen on masthead lights where other boats are about, e.g. in a mooring field, I am sure they just don't use their eyes.
    Cynical Scottish almost retired engineer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,075

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Welcome to the forum.

    What zoidberg said.

    You can buy some "emergency lights" like these

    https://www.force4.co.uk/force-4-eme...YaAriEEALw_wcB

    Other suppliers are available.

    Some people of this parish are not keen on masthead lights where other boats are about, e.g. in a mooring field, I am sure they just don't use their eyes.
    Under power a masthead light, as defined in the Colregs rule 21(a) is obligatory

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    6,789

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Welcome to the forum.

    What zoidberg said.

    You can buy some "emergency lights" like these

    https://www.force4.co.uk/force-4-eme...YaAriEEALw_wcB

    Other suppliers are available.

    Some people of this parish are not keen on masthead lights where other boats are about, e.g. in a mooring field, I am sure they just don't use their eyes.
    Realistically, the masthead light that some of us don't like is when it's used as an anchor light. Quite why the Col Regs refer to a masthead light (for under power), when there is no requirement for it to be at the masthead, is anybody's guess.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fortrose
    Posts
    1,421

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by VicS View Post
    Under power a masthead light, as defined in the Colregs rule 21(a) is obligatory
    Does the word 'Masthead' cover a FWD facing light on the front of the mast, above the 'side lights', along with a separate stern light, rather than a light specifically at the head/top of the mast, or have I misunderstood, and need to do a bit of wiring?
    Edit: Apologies Vic, I've just checked your very useful drawing....!
    Last edited by jamie N; 18-04-19 at 15:14.
    Folkboat 'Stakkr' - Inverness - http://islandrov.wix.com/island-rov-web

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,075

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie N View Post
    Does the word 'Masthead' cover a FWD facing light on the front of the mast, above the 'side lights', along with a separate stern light, rather than a light specifically at the head/top of the mast, or have I misunderstood, and need to do a bit of wiring?
    Edit: Apologies Vic, I've just checked your very useful drawing....!
    From the aforementioned Colregs

    Rule 21
    Definitions
    (a) “Masthead light” means a white light placed over the fore and aft centreline of the vessel showing
    an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from
    right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.
    See also Annex 1 (2) regarding the height/ vertical spacing
    Last edited by VicS; 18-04-19 at 15:21.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    35,251

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie N View Post
    Does the word 'Masthead' cover a FWD facing light on the front of the mast, above the 'side lights'
    Yes, in Colregs terms that is what a Masthead Light is.

    Pete

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    21,570

    Default Re: Confused about navigation lights......

    Quote Originally Posted by prv View Post
    Yes, in Colregs terms that is what a Masthead Light is.

    Pete
    Often, as on my boat, referred to and labelled as a 'steaming light'. This may not be correct but avoids confusion in general use. It also creates the whimsical thought that one's propulsion is the result of having stoked the boilers.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

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