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Old 09-07-2015, 17:53   #61
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
OK, but how about some photos where it's dark? You know, like when we would actually have our tricolors turned on? Sure, around sunset / sunrise there might be a horizon issue, but any lights are hard to see in those conditions. Hell, my tricolor is still closer to the water than deck-level nav lights on a freighter...

I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I don't understand. Inshore, I get, but offshore? From my sailboat I can sure see a masthead tricolor much further than a small boat's deck-level lights.
The problem when it is dark is that the trilight blends in with all the shore lights....
Offshore... well offshore.... I like trilights
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Old 09-07-2015, 18:14   #62
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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OK, but how about some photos where it's dark? You know, like when we would actually have our tricolors turned on? Sure, around sunset / sunrise there might be a horizon issue, but any lights are hard to see in those conditions. Hell, my tricolor is still closer to the water than deck-level nav lights on a freighter...

I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I don't understand. Inshore, I get, but offshore? From my sailboat I can sure see a masthead tricolor much further than a small boat's deck-level lights.
There are two variables in this... the 'height of eye' on the ship's bridge and the height of the mast.

If the observers HoE is fixed and you alter the height of the trilight.... short mast... tri shows against the black sea... high mast ...tri shows against the sky...

Likewise you have a trilight at fixed height... high wheelhouse you are against the sea... low wheelhouse your light is in the sky.

Somewhere in between its going to be like Goldilock's porridge... just right... and you are going to disappear..

When I said 'well offshore' above I don't think I would use a trilight in the English Channel or southern North Sea frinstance...
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Old 09-07-2015, 21:49   #63
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

On the other hand, I've heard big ship folks complaining that deck level running lights on small yachts (only 3-4 feet above the WL) are hard to see with any sea running from any point of view. That is what lead me to believe in the efficacy of the tricolour.

Perhaps the real issue here is that our piss-ant little lamps are just hard to see from any angle at a useful distance. Now that really bright LED lamps can be fed from our puny electrical systems, I'd think there was a market for yachting lamps that far exceed the requisite visual range... I'd sure be interested!

Jim (hoping that El Ping is happy in scenic downtown Gulf Harbour, and making some progress on the chore list).
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:52   #64
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

The real danger associated with port and starboard sailboat lights when used in shore is that they can be mistaken for lighted buoys by ships. The closer these lights are to the surface the harder it is for a ship's lookouts and OOW to determine if a light is a buoy or the sidelight of a sailboat. If the OOW is looking at a light at the masthead he can see its position change relative to the background lights.

However, it should be remember that there are smaller vessels that operate near shore that need to know that there are sailing vessels operating in their vicinity. Thus, from there near surface perspective the movement of a masthead light should make it possible for them to determine what actions they are required to take per the COLREGS.

Away from shore the interaction between a ship and a vessel under sail is to make sure that the ship knows that he is in the vicinity of a stand-on vessel early enough that the OOW can avoid running the stand-on vessel down.
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Old 10-07-2015, 04:50   #65
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
On the other hand, I've heard big ship folks complaining that deck level running lights on small yachts (only 3-4 feet above the WL) are hard to see with any sea running from any point of view. That is what lead me to believe in the efficacy of the tricolour.

Not me! I think a light blinking in and out might be even easier to spot that a fixed light in some cases

Perhaps the real issue here is that our piss-ant little lamps are just hard to see from any angle at a useful distance. Now that really bright LED lamps can be fed from our puny electrical systems, I'd think there was a market for yachting lamps that far exceed the requisite visual range... I'd sure be interested!
Exactly! given that sidelights for a yacht under 12 meters are only required to be visible for 1 nm they are getting pretty close, almost in the sea clutter range on the radar by the time you see them. and given the human eyes poor ability to see red or green lights vs white lights they need to be as bright as possible. They are also only required to show full power up to 5 degrees of heel, and then 50% is OK out to 25 degrees (presumably nothing past 25 deg?) so a lot of the time while sailing they will only show up at half a mile. If you are over 12 meters it's better at 2 miles, but no where near an equivalent sized powerboats masthead light. Not sure how the led lights compare, but I know from a recent run in with a racing fleet at night that they are still pretty weak
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The real danger associated with port and starboard sailboat lights when used in shore is that they can be mistaken for lighted buoys by ships. The closer these lights are to the surface the harder it is for a ship's lookouts and OOW to determine if a light is a buoy or the sidelight of a sailboat. If the OOW is looking at a light at the masthead he can see its position change relative to the background lights.
Not in my experience, pretty easy to recognise buoys, much brighter lights and a defined rhythm, plus they should be on the chart and on the radar.
However, it should be remember that there are smaller vessels that operate near shore that need to know that there are sailing vessels operating in their vicinity. Thus, from there near surface perspective the movement of a masthead light should make it possible for them to determine what actions they are required to take per the COLREGS.
Problem is you don't notice the masthead lights, damn things blend into the harbour lights. Where I live there is a street light that looks just like the masthead lights of a yacht. it's caught me out a couple of times, until I see the amber I am thinking its a yacht coming out of the harbour almost head on, first I see a red and think I'm clear, then it goes green and I start to worry.
The container ships I worked on had a height of eye somewhere around 24-28 meters depending on the draft and size. Say a typical yacht might have a 15m air draft, that puts the tricolor pretty close to the horizon at sea, and they are so dim that when you normally see them at 1-2 NM they look alot like a ship on the horizon, or a low star. If you are lucky you can match them with a weak radar target, and Binos may show up the red or green, but they all seem wrong, and it makes it very hard to get a good feel for how far away they are.

I personally think that's why OOW's seem to often not realise when they have hit a yacht, or got really close, because the tricolor is up near the horizon even when they are right under the bow. To be honest the guys in little wooden fishing boats around malacca straits where much easier to identify, because their torches are near sea level, you can dodge them visually, and get a feel for how they are moving.

I guess there's no harm in having a tricolor (as long as you never use it!) and in extreme weather maybe the higher light could be useful, but I would much rather have the sailing lights (red over green) up there, or even in very nasty weather just a much brighter all round white light in addition to my deck level nav lights.

But saying all this AIS has really changed the game offshore for yachts, we are so much better off these days.
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Old 10-07-2015, 16:00   #66
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
On the other hand, I've heard big ship folks complaining that deck level running lights on small yachts (only 3-4 feet above the WL) are hard to see with any sea running from any point of view. That is what lead me to believe in the efficacy of the tricolour.

Perhaps the real issue here is that our piss-ant little lamps are just hard to see from any angle at a useful distance. Now that really bright LED lamps can be fed from our puny electrical systems, I'd think there was a market for yachting lamps that far exceed the requisite visual range... I'd sure be interested!

Jim (hoping that El Ping is happy in scenic downtown Gulf Harbour, and making some progress on the chore list).
Your eyes are typically at the same height as your pulpit and taffrail mounted lights... therefore it is safe to make a few assumptions.... if passing ships look like the one in the first 2 shots your lights are blinking.... if passing ships look like the ones in the next two shots then they aren't.

Port approaches are typically the 'danger zone'... water tends to be flat. Buoys flash - and ships expect to see them.

In the approaches to a port big ship nav lights as seen from another big ship are can be hard to see against shore lights as well.... having picked up an outward ship on radar I would look for the moving black lightless patch against the shore lights.

Which is all why I think, in general, and with the usual all care no responsibility clause.. offshore high good, inshore low good.

Ping is happy with progress , more news on the pingomobile thread soon...8*C in the cabin this AM.
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Old 10-07-2015, 20:45   #67
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
I don't have a problem with tricolours offshore... inshore is a different matter.

No yacht photos to hand ( I have some good ones somewhere in the archives ) but just put yachts into these two photos and think where their trilights can end up.... on or near the visible horizon....think 'cloak of invisibility'.... if you do see the light the perspective can go tits up.... what is half a mile off can look like its just off the beach. Those pics show it as seen from the bridge of this (3rd pic https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/pho...94401/#forward ...lower the height of eye... higher the trilight is in the sky...

El Ping ...feeling right at home in sunny Auckland....
All good points & advice. The view is different from the other guy's spot. We had the opposite observation many years ago on Lake Erie in a night race crossing the freighter lanes. We assumed two high white lights were on the two large sail boats last to start and tacking through the fleet. Turns out they were bow & stern white lights on an ocean freighter. He was showing no red or green and no deck lights. Lucky none of the 300 boats that night were struck. We cleared his bow under spinnaker with not much room to spare.

As noted above, I have deck & tricolor mast lights. All are way brighter than 2 miles. My tricolor is an old Aqua Signal so it also has a strobe. It does a great job on fog & would probably get the attention of the watch on a ship. Also, we run AIS -B. I hope this and radar on the average ship will make us visible.
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Old 12-07-2015, 17:30   #68
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

Thanks for all of the input. Am going to put the tri-color with anchor on the top of the mast, and use it offshore. Inshore (ICW) will just use the stock red/green on the bows and the lower white on the stern. It's about another $200 vs just changing out the anchor light to LED, but gives me lots of flexibility. Plus I have been offshore and watched bow-mounted red/green disappear behind waves, and the mast-top mounted wont have that issue. Or if it does, visibility of running lights will be the least of our issues!
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Old 12-07-2015, 17:54   #69
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

Sorry Guys, I have a database problem with my website at the moment, programmers are working on it. You can (or should be able to!) see the lights here LED Navigation Lights by Optolamp Boating Gear fit for the King but if you want to buy, or get some info, please send me an email matt@neptunes-gear.com. I will provide the optolamp at a better price than anyone.

I don't buy the "masthead is too high" argument. I've never experienced the issue. If the lights are bright enough, even only one boat length away it is still within the normal angle of vision for a person looking horizontally. Likely from a ship you'd be looking level or down anyway! The only issue may be if you are in a doghouse, or under a bimini, and about to hit someone (or be hit!) at very close range the roof could obscure the lights.

On my boat, I use the Optolamp Amazonia Mirim 111 (Anchor/Tricolour/Strobe). I have been able to be seen at approx 5nm with the strobe, and over 2nm with the tricolor. The unit is very small and light (good for smaller boats and racers!) and draws about .15 of an amp at 12v. Mine has been on the boat now for many 1000's of miles, and has been completely maint free, and worked flawlessly.

Great lights!
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Old 12-07-2015, 21:11   #70
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
....

On my boat, I use the Optolamp Amazonia Mirim 111 (Anchor/Tricolour/Strobe). I have been able to be seen at approx 5nm with the strobe, and over 2nm with the tricolor. The unit is very small and light (good for smaller boats and racers!) and draws about .15 of an amp at 12v. Mine has been on the boat now for many 1000's of miles, and has been completely maint free, and worked flawlessly.

Great lights!
Been rerigging new boat here in SF Bay (bought in Stockton of all places; nothing agin Stockton, just allowing as how it were not zackly the place I'da spected to find a Skookum commercial fishboat to be hiding out; asked the broker if it were in the Witness Protection Program) and while the masts was down, gotta Optolamp Digital Sirius LX Plus with three settings: all-around white and two strobe settings, regular n spastic. Had already installed side lamp Aqua Signal red n green nav lights on the house fwd, replacing the charming XMas lights that usedta was there (to their credit, they twinkled ever so insouciantly like Tinkerbell giggling).

Wanted low-draw LED to replace old capacitor - strobe combo mastlight rocket launcher battery-juice hooverer-upperer, n generally happy with the Opto but for one (to me, but ymmv) noteworthy quibble: not sure if all Optos is like this but the one I got will ONLY operate if it's quite satisfied things is plenty dark enough to suit it. I commercial fish in Alaska (or leastways I used to before I signed on to Sisyphian refit reeducation camp by buying a sailboat troller that sat for the better part of a decade -- tho can honest say still never been happier to have projects, which are legion). Myself, like to have mastlight on in the fog, specially round a snaggletooth reef with plenty a metal-jousting company.

In the interests of redundancy, put the too-proud-for-daylight-Blanche-Dubois Opto on the mizz (but not before completely replacing mizz spruce stick for a luminum -- because doing it wrong at least once is just how I roll, apparently, n how can I improve my skill less I practice?) n gotta 2nd mastlight for the mainmast from Lunasea (special order; hadda request it) that hadda all-round white, strobe n a tri-color and works when I want it to not when it feels like it. Not planning on using both at the same time, course.

Appreciate this forum and its contibutors muchly. Lotta institutional knowledge n a hearty helping of ****, grit n mother-wit.
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Old 12-07-2015, 21:38   #71
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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.......
I don't buy the "masthead is too high" argument. I've never experienced the issue. If the lights are bright enough, even only one boat length away it is still within the normal angle of vision for a person looking horizontally. Likely from a ship you'd be looking level or down anyway! The only issue may be if you are in a doghouse, or under a bimini, and about to hit someone (or be hit!) at very close range the roof could obscure the lights. .....
Thats fine... cos I'm not selling it...

Just saying, and Stormpetrel agrees with me, that from the bridge of big ships masthead lights can blend in with shore lights and , if seen , distort perspective etc.

Take the worst case.... I've been there and (not?) seen this one often enough.... ship closing the land ...yacht being overtaken on a steady bearing ... so showing a steady white masthead light in with a bunch of other steady white shore lights.... and what is the sector most likely to be ignored by yacht watchkeepers? astern! So do they see the ship coming... nope....

OK so the ship 'may' have you on radar and the ship 'may' have you on AIS but then again on a clear dark night he might just be looking out the windows....

As I said above, I'm not selling... its free ... take it or leave it...as you wish
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Old 12-07-2015, 22:10   #72
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

Fair enough.

IMO and experience many ships lights are already at or above a yacht's masthead. Dependent on your height of eye, virtually ANY light can be at horizon or background lighting level. This can certainly complicate things.

Each must make his/her own call as to positioning their own lights, within the colregs. Like everything for navigation, never trust one source of info - have the AIS and the Radar as well if possible, confirm what you are looking at. (Binos, Mk 1 eyeball, whatever is available)

It's not just a problem from a ship. Some say masthead lights look like stars. You have to be really close for them to be very far above the horizon!

It's the watchkeepers job not just to see whats around, but to understand them as well. A single white light is the most difficult to identify, as it can be many things.

Twice I have had an inexperienced watchkeeper wake me at night because of a ship approaching - yet it turned out to be the moon!

Be safe out there!
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