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Old 07-07-2015, 19:19   #1
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Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

In three weeks, we are going to pull the mast on our 13 yr old Seawind, to replace all of the standing rigging, put in a tube for the 4G radar cable, and install the radome. The rigger suggested that at the same time the mast is down, we consider changing out the anchor light and the steaming/spreader light to LED units at the same time. He's a big fan of the Stecktronic LED's, having fantastic service and experience with them. Right now I have an Aqua Signal anchor light at top of mast, that I put a Dr LED light in. So I am already low-draw LED. (Just as an FYI, I also had to put in a diode and a resistor (I think) to kill the interference I was getting from the bulb. Had to do this for all of the fixtures with the Dr LED bulbs, as otherwise the VHF was unusable due to the amount of static.)

So what he suggested is changing out the masthead anchor light, and installing a combination red/green/stern and anchor light stack. Says offshore, this is the best thing to use because the red/green on the bow can be hard to see in large wave conditions. I want to keep the bow red/green for when we run the ICW and bays - most people tend to look low in the water for lights in close quarters. I know I should not run both. So am thinking the best combo might be to keep the current bow-mounted running lights and use them normally, and the mast-mounted running lights for long offshore passages. Plus this unit has a strobe - which I know is not Coast Guard legal, but I think can be an SOS signal.

So, any feedback on making this changeover? It's about a $420 unit, or around half that for just the anchor light LED fixture.

Anyone have any experience with Stecktronic? What I am most concerned about is VHF interference.

Anything else I am missing? Setting the boat up for post-retirement cruising starting next year.
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Old 07-07-2015, 19:28   #2
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

My very expensive OGM Tricolor LED causes lots of VHF interference... essentially making either the light or the VHF useless.

So, be sure to keep whatever LED you put on the masthead far away from your VHF antenna. Mine is about 8-10" and that is not far enough.

I vote having them in both places. In case one set goes out you have the other set.
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Old 07-07-2015, 19:35   #3
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by zboss View Post
My very expensive OGM Tricolor LED causes lots of VHF interference... essentially making either the light or the VHF useless.

So, be sure to keep whatever LED you put on the masthead far away from your VHF antenna. Mine is about 8-10" and that is not far enough.
Yeah, I am trying to avoid the interference as well. My masthead and VHF antenna are within a foot apart. I get great VHF distance and AIS reception. Note that when I put the Dr LED bulbs in the running light fixtures on the bows (catamaran), it made the VHF useless. I called the owner of Dr LED, and he said sorry - but no refunds. Someone else recommended the Radio Shack parts be added, that killed all of the interference. As the Stecktronic unit is all sealed, that would be harder to add those parts. Plus am just hoping that they got the interference thing fixed.

I have a friend with the OGM, and he hasn't experienced the interference problem. But his VHF antenna is on the stern.
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Old 07-07-2015, 19:48   #4
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

If you plan on entering offshore races (e.g., Pacific Cup), they require a dedicated backup set of nav-lights. Their recommendation is to add a tricolor at the top of the mast.
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Old 07-07-2015, 19:57   #5
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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If you plan on entering offshore races (e.g., Pacific Cup), they require a dedicated backup set of nav-lights. Their recommendation is to add a tricolor at the top of the mast.
That's good to know. We've actually done some racing with the boat, and the 150 nm Harvest Moon regatta from Galveston to Port Aransas. They didn't require redundant lights. Pac Cup is probably more rigorous in their safety policies.
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Old 07-07-2015, 20:39   #6
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

I have a bicolour up the top. The full set incl anchor light eod be good, but I note the cost!!

Ensure you seal it all well.


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Old 08-07-2015, 06:55   #7
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

We have one of these
http://www.neptunes-gear.com/index.p...nd-strobe.html
Connects to existing anchor light cables (2) and supplied switch allows switching from anchor to nav to off. Anchor light is automatic on at dusk and off at dawn, a nice feature. Nav lights are ok but not as bright as our deck mounted nav lights. An additional wire allows the strobe feature but we did t install it.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:08   #8
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

i placed my nav lights on light boards 10 ft off the water and widely set apart, on either side of boat. seems to be the best visibility pattern in open ocean.
no one does this, and every time a light is seen on horizon, color is not able to be discerned until the other boat is very close. they appear white from a distance.
i use very bright oversized (for my boat ) nav lights. they light my sails in pretty red and green colors and they light the water and are visible at quite impressive distances, which is GOOD in open ocean.
modern boats have barely adequate nav light patterns. yes masthead lighting is visible at great distances, but colors are not discernable until very close to the craft being watched.
with my boat, there is no doubt as to which way i am headed and what i am.
i do not understand the philosophy that stands behind the do not change the light pattern on the boat thinking, as what is sold with boat is inadequate for open ocean visibility. the pattern needs augmentation. i augmented with light boards and realistic light placement.
my bow light cannot be removed by mother nature, as it can be when installed on bow-yes i btdt and watched it float past us in ft myers, as we departed one stormy day-- had to turn back without nav lites-- unrealistic placement. bow submerges occasionally, and light can be ripped off the bow. oops. (not my boat--was opb)
i have tried to see color of masthead lights as they are seen on open ocean-- cannot discern colors as the colors are way too close together.
10 ft off water and spread one on each side of boat is perfect. can be seen and discerned easily.
so much of sailing and boating is common sense, with guidelines tpo be followed as to necessary items. masthead lighting is not mandatory, nav lights are. masthead lights are trendy, not law.
try doing the best thing for visibility.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:16   #9
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

The tricolor cannot be used when under power, as you must also show a masthead (steaming) light at least one meter above the red and green. And the masthead (steaming) light may not be used when under sail alone, as it indicates that you are under power.
So you need both sets and it has to do with mode of propulsion, not length of voyage. On one of my previous boats I had a breaker for "Running Lights", then a double throw selector switch to select "Power" or "Sail". That way an improper combination could not be lit.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:31   #10
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
i placed my nav lights on light boards 10 ft off the water and widely set apart, on either side of boat. seems to be the best visibility pattern in open ocean.
no one does this, and every time a light is seen on horizon, color is not able to be discerned until the other boat is very close. they appear white from a distance.
i use very bright oversized (for my boat ) nav lights. they light my sails in pretty red and green colors and they light the water and are visible at quite impressive distances, which is GOOD in open ocean.
modern boats have barely adequate nav light patterns. yes masthead lighting is visible at great distances, but colors are not discernable until very close to the craft being watched.
with my boat, there is no doubt as to which way i am headed and what i am.
i do not understand the philosophy that stands behind the do not change the light pattern on the boat thinking, as what is sold with boat is inadequate for open ocean visibility. the pattern needs augmentation. i augmented with light boards and realistic light placement.
my bow light cannot be removed by mother nature, as it can be when installed on bow-yes i btdt and watched it float past us in ft myers, as we departed one stormy day-- had to turn back without nav lites-- unrealistic placement. bow submerges occasionally, and light can be ripped off the bow. oops. (not my boat--was opb)
i have tried to see color of masthead lights as they are seen on open ocean-- cannot discern colors as the colors are way too close together.
10 ft off water and spread one on each side of boat is perfect. can be seen and discerned easily.
so much of sailing and boating is common sense, with guidelines tpo be followed as to necessary items. masthead lighting is not mandatory, nav lights are. masthead lights are trendy, not law.
try doing the best thing for visibility.
Back in the old days (i think before 1940), a lot of boats and all large ships had their red and green lights mounted on light boards, which were painted the same color as the light. That way they could be seen in daylight and on some ships the bow and stern aren't that obvious. Then someone noticed that the color was visible outside of the 112.5 degrees that the red and green must show. Now the boards must be painted flat black, and they prevent the light from shining on any part of the vessel so the light is not visible outside of the 112.5 degrees. If your lights make your sails glow, that actually violates that part of the Nav Rules. I don't think anyone would care though.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:51   #11
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by capt jgw View Post
The tricolor cannot be used when under power, as you must also show a masthead (steaming) light at least one meter above the red and green. And the masthead (steaming) light may not be used when under sail alone, as it indicates that you are under power.
So you need both sets and it has to do with mode of propulsion, not length of voyage. On one of my previous boats I had a breaker for "Running Lights", then a double throw selector switch to select "Power" or "Sail". That way an improper combination could not be lit.
I think I would be good with the current wiring. The current anchor light on the masthead would be replaced with the sail configuration white (stern)/green/red, with the white anchor light above. Depending upon how many times that switch is flipped, turns on either the anchor alone, or the masthead sailing lights.

The stock navigation lights are on a different switch, which illuminates the bow red/green and the stern white. These could be switched off when the masthead sail configuration lights are on.

The steaming light is a separate light on separate switch about halfway up the mast. But from what you are saying, to be completely legal when motoring I need to use the stock lights with the red/green on the bows? Because the steaming light has to be above them?
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:53   #12
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

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Originally Posted by monte View Post
Probably doing something wrong, but link doesn't work for me. Whose unit is it?
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:54   #13
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

And does anyone have any experience with Stecktronics LED units? Specifically am wondering about any VHF interference issues.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:55   #14
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

I'd go for both sets.

If you can, rig the bow mounted tri light, stern light, and masthead (steaming light) to come on together when you underway using the engine (most likely on the ICW), and go for the mast top mounted tricolour for when under sail.

As others have noted, have to be careful about the LED bulbs causing interference on the VHF.

If you get a Tricolour /Anchor light specifically designed for use with LED bulbs, the chances of interference are much reduced, most of the problems seem to occur when a LED bulb is used to replace an incandescent bulb.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:57   #15
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Re: Navigation Lights on Mast or Bow, or Both

Sorry I'll try another link
http://www.bluemarinestore.com/optol...igation-light/
And
LED Anchor Light post #68
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