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Old 20-03-2018, 00:38   #1
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Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Hello,

The boat we just brought has mast head nav lights and deck nav lights.

There are two switches - one to turn the lights on, but then another switch lets you select the deck lights OR the mast head navs to be on - but not both - its a one or the other type arrangement.

Why would it be done this way?

Cheers

Al
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Old 20-03-2018, 00:53   #2
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

When sailing (and engine is not running), one is allowed to use tri-colour light on top of mast, or (not AND)
when sailing one can use port and starboard lights with a sternlight.

When motoring or motorsailing only those last 3 lights can be used AND also a steaming light must be used (but not the tri-colour).
Yes, there are some limitations regarding size of boat.
There are dozens of websites that explain it, here is one, read around page 37:
http://www.jag.navy.mil/distrib/inst...OLREG-1972.pdf

BTW using the tri-colour light, one saves electricity use as only one light (bulb or LED) is on, not 3.
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Old 20-03-2018, 01:06   #3
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Have difficulty with that configuration as well Big Al. In purely practical terms, many is the time you will be tootling along and need to have the deck lights on at the same time! And I quite like the ability to turn them on in addition to the nav lights when the squid boats fail to see us. Personally, I'd change it.
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Old 20-03-2018, 01:54   #4
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

International Regulations For Preventing Collisions At Sea a.k.a. COLREGs
is the authority which sets out the rules for lights which should be displayed on different types of vessels in different situations - among many other things. (Actually, each country has it's own maritime law which included COLREGs in it's own legislation.

Every sailor should be familiar with the major provisions of COLREGs. You can download copies from lots of places on the internet. (even Wikipedia has them ).

The bottom line is that you can have either deck level navigation lights or combined light at the top of your mast - but you can't have them both on at the same time.

If you do, another vessel will see two red, green or white lights, one over the other - and those combinations mean something other than "I am a sailing vessel".
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Old 20-03-2018, 01:55   #5
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Walker View Post
Have difficulty with that configuration as well Big Al. In purely practical terms, many is the time you will be tootling along and need to have the deck lights on at the same time! And I quite like the ability to turn them on in addition to the nav lights when the squid boats fail to see us. Personally, I'd change it.

I think you are confusing "deck lights" with "deck level navigation lights".
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Old 20-03-2018, 08:25   #6
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

This is spelled out in the 72 ColRegs, Rule 25. Not the use of the words "shall" and "may":

Sailing Vessels Underway
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
(i) sidelights;
(ii) a stern light.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length the lights prescribed
in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or
near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
(c) A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in
paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they
can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red
and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction
with the combined lantern permitted by paragraph (b) of this Rule.

NOTE: This is not the complete text of Rule 25. It also specifies lights and shapes for dinghys and sailing vessels under 7 meters in length and vessels propelled by oars.
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Old 20-03-2018, 09:13   #7
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Big Al I would suggest that you undertake a Dayskipper Course as a minimum. They're run by Coastguard and you can do it online or in a classroom. Chip as chips and might save yours and your families life. Here's a link: https://www.coastguard.nz/education/day-skipper-intro/.
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Old 20-03-2018, 09:21   #8
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Great information. I have both and really didn't know when to use them properly. Thanks
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Old 20-03-2018, 10:19   #9
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
I think you are confusing "deck lights" with "deck level navigation lights".

I think you are correct !! A bad case of skim reading.....
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Old 20-03-2018, 10:52   #10
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Deck level non-nav lights are a good way to add extra illumination (visibility) to your vessel as long as they comply with Rule 20(b):

"(b) The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to
sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except
such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules or
do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the
keeping of a proper look-out."

So, as long as they don't blind you or interfere with your nav lights such that your vessel might be mistaken for other than what your lights are supposed to indicate, you can light up the night! With very low power LED strip lighting being so cheap, this is an easy way to illuminate your topsides. Fasten them where only people outside the vessel can directly see them and you'll probably be OK. Even if they only last a year or so, they're cheap to replace. However, beware of the "[do not] interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out" clause... in the event of a collision, it's probably a good bet that extraneous lights will come into question!
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Old 20-03-2018, 11:23   #11
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

One more point of nitpicking BigAl & others:

That tri-light at the top (truck) of the mast is NOT a masthead light.

I don't think it has ever been given a proper name in the COLREGS-other than "tri-light at or near the TOP of the mast".I would love to learn otherwise.

The masthead light (also called the steaming light)is mounted on the FRONT of the mast at a specified height above the red & green sidelights,is white,& is visible for 225? deg.
A good way to freeze this fact in your mind is to turn the masthead/steaming light on at night when your foresail is up. You won't be long turning it off and only using it under power & with no foresail up.

Cheers/Len

At least-that was my experience
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Old 20-03-2018, 11:28   #12
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Thanks for the great replies and clarification of the terminology. It all makes sense.

Now I understand why it is wired the way that it is.

Thanks

Al
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Old 20-03-2018, 11:38   #13
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvmojo View Post
Deck level non-nav lights are a good way to add extra illumination (visibility) to your vessel as long as they comply with Rule 20(b):

"(b) The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to
sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except
such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules or
do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the
keeping of a proper look-out."

So, as long as they don't blind you or interfere with your nav lights such that your vessel might be mistaken for other than what your lights are supposed to indicate, you can light up the night! With very low power LED strip lighting being so cheap, this is an easy way to illuminate your topsides. Fasten them where only people outside the vessel can directly see them and you'll probably be OK. Even if they only last a year or so, they're cheap to replace. However, beware of the "[do not] interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out" clause... in the event of a collision, it's probably a good bet that extraneous lights will come into question!
Another bit of nitpicking,which I hope will help everyone.

You can & should operate your nav lights in the daytime,if visibility is poor.

Rule 20 c

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Old 20-03-2018, 11:52   #14
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by HankOnthewater View Post
When sailing (and engine is not running), one is allowed to use tri-colour light on top of mast, or (not AND)
when sailing one can use port and starboard lights with a sternlight.

When motoring or motorsailing only those last 3 lights can be used AND also a steaming light must be used (but not the tri-colour).
Yes, there are some limitations regarding size of boat.
There are dozens of websites that explain it, here is one, read around page 37:
http://www.jag.navy.mil/distrib/inst...OLREG-1972.pdf

BTW using the tri-colour light, one saves electricity use as only one light (bulb or LED) is on, not 3.
I have always suspected that the single bulb tri-colour light was "invented" to save power while under sail for long periods. Before solar panels & generators,this would be an important consideration.
Hence,I always thought of it as the "sailboat nav-light"-just my way of remembering. / Len
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Old 20-03-2018, 12:34   #15
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Re: Masthead & Deck Nav Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by deblen View Post
A good way to freeze this fact in your mind is to turn the masthead/steaming light on at night when your foresail is up. You won't be long turning it off and only using it under power & with no foresail up.
If you're under power, you are a power driven vessel and a steaming light is required, even if you have your foresail (or any other sail) up.
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