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Old 10-02-2010, 07:00   #31
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RULE 36

Signals to attract attention

If necessary to attract the attention of another vessel any vessel may make light or sound signals that cannot be mistaken for any signal authorized elsewhere in these Rules, or may direct the beam of her searchlight in the direction of the danger, in such a way as not to embarrass any vessel. Any light to attract the attention of another vessel shall be such that it cannot be mistaken for any aid to navigation. For the purpose of this Rule the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as strobe lights, shall be avoided.
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Rule 37 - Inland only
A high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute.
So, a strobe is either not allowed or considered a distress signal. Don't play with it. Same for these lasers, they are marketed for distress situations and the fact that the rules can't keep up with new developments doesn't mean that you can use them for anything you like; it is not about breaking rules or not, it is about lives being saved or not and you can be sure that every SAR in the world knows about these rescue lasers. In fact, mis-use has already caused many countries to outlaw them.

When you are anchored in a bay I think that most nations consider that their inland waters and most, if not all, have defined a strobe light as distress signal for inland waters.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 10-02-2010, 17:20   #32
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I'm afraid my interpretation is different - I read -

1. to attract attention (not signal distress)

2. do not use strobe lights
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Old 10-02-2010, 18:27   #33
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"it somehow scattered or vibrated the laser coming out to throw a much wider beam."
Coupla cups of strong coffee, and any laser in your hand will vibrate and dance all over the target.
There are also laser "pointers" that diddle the beam to make a solid or dashed "line" instead of a spot, and that might be more useful when scanning for a target return.
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Old 10-02-2010, 18:58   #34
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This may be a good argument, not to use one of these except as an emergency locator. Maybe.

I would think their value as emergency locator would be in blue water or the deep woods. Where there are no other lights. Where I am interested in finding a daymark (ICW for instance), there are usually numerous red and green flashing lights, so not sure how effective one of these lasers would be in summoning help in this environment. As I understand it, to see the laser,it would have to be aimed directly at you,steadily. So I think it would be highly unlikely that anyone else would even see the laser, and then only briefly. It's easy to envision a bunch of nuts out there with Star Wars light sabers, but I don't think it wouldn't be like that at all. Still, it is something to think about.

Nick,I hear you about radar, but I don't see this as an alternative to radar.I was hoping it would be an improved alternative to a spotlight. On a narrow twisty channel, I like to eyeball the markers as to color and number (I've now learned here that this might not be possible with the laser). Radar can't discern that, and may have trouble differentiating a daymark from an anchored boat or even a duck blind.
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Old 10-02-2010, 19:34   #35
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Originally Posted by bewitched View Post
I'm afraid my interpretation is different - I read -
1. to attract attention (not signal distress)
2. do not use strobe lights
Rule 36
….such as strobe lights, shall be avoided…

Rule 36 does not prohibit
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Old 10-02-2010, 20:23   #36
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Originally Posted by chala View Post
Rule 36
….such as strobe lights, shall be avoided…

Rule 36 does not prohibit
The English language is a fickle thing indeed. When I read "shall be avoided", my interpretation is: shall not be used

The intention of my original post was to point out that the argument for not using lasers or strobes for anything other than a distress signal was not a valid arguement as neither strobes nor lasers are actually distress signals in the first place. (Rule 37 & Annex iv).

Rule 36 refers to attracting attention and as long as the signal cannot be mistaken for other signals in colregs or aids to navigation, it may be used, but avoid the use of strobes.

Back to the original thread: is it possible / acceptable to use a laser to try to locate a channel marker. Possible? - i've no idea. Acceptable? perhaps. The only real conflict that I can see is that it may be confused with a handheld flare (a distress signal), but I would have thought that the light signature would be sifficiently different not to lead to confusion.

Would it be misinterperated as a vessel trying to attract attention to its self - again possibly, but no more so than if you were searching with a torch.

Is it an effective means of locating a channel marker - again possibly, but I think radar and to a lessor extent night vision are far more effective methods.
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Old 10-02-2010, 22:25   #37
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Originally Posted by ggray View Post
Nick,I hear you about radar, but I don't see this as an alternative to radar.I was hoping it would be an improved alternative to a spotlight. On a narrow twisty channel, I like to eyeball the markers as to color and number (I've now learned here that this might not be possible with the laser). Radar can't discern that, and may have trouble differentiating a daymark from an anchored boat or even a duck blind.
The first time that I used radar overlay on my chart I couldn't believe it. The chart was a little off, about 5 meters but that might have been GPS inaccuracy too!. Anyway, we went to where the radar told me a marker really was and the fog was so dense that we could feel it but not see it. Still coming closer, there it was, we had less than 30' vision! And it was the marker as the chart indicated of course.

Now, after having used this so often, we look at the radar, check at a turn or bend in the channel if the radar echo's follow the markers there and we are sure which echo is which marker and can come in blind. Charts, GPS etc. can be wrong, but the radar tells you where something really is.

Next thing will be AIS markers. This is already in use in Europe for temporary markers (buoy gets washed away, new wreck etc). So you see the markers on AIS but they are not really there. They also do it for ships that have no AIS yet... they detect with radar and convert to AIS. These signals are transmitted by shore stations

Before we know it, we will enter tricky channels that have no physical markers at all but we see a 3D highway incl. markers in our heads-up-displays, automatically calibrated by radar! Let it come, I'm ready! ;-)

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 11-02-2010, 00:29   #38
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Before we know it, we will enter tricky channels that have no physical markers at all but we see a 3D highway incl. markers in our heads-up-displays, automatically calibrated by radar! Let it come, I'm ready! ;-)

cheers,
Nick.
Now thats interesting
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