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Old 07-02-2013, 15:25   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: earth
Boat: newick native trimaran 38'
Posts: 27
navigation lights and colored flashers

hello sailors. I am a livaboard in southeast asia. Everyone here uses colored flashing lights on thier boats at night in the anchorages. No one seems to use a masthead anchor light anymore. Underway, the red and green port and starboard running lights only seem to be used by yachts and heavy shipping. Fishing and local boats use red and green and blue and white flashing lights which make it impossible to determine what direction they are going and distance from a steady light vs. a flashing one can be decieving.
What happened to the rules regarding lights is a mystery to me.
My question is... Is it only in southeast asia where there is such confusing lights or has this phenomenon spead globally?
Do the anchorages in the caribbean resemble christmas tree decorations? Where are correct lighting protocols still followed?
Input from sailors who have recently circumnavigated would be appreciated.
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Old 07-02-2013, 17:09   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: back on Gold Coast after sailing north to Thailand then east to Pacific via Irian Jaya, PNG & Solomons
Boat: Tennant 47ft Catamaran
Posts: 306
Re: navigation lights and colored flashers

Tell me about flashers - red, white & blue even alternating colours.
I am in Thailand but have tried to avoid travelling at night unless it is impossible. Try identifying one of the hundreds of fishing boats off the coast of Malaysia when overnighting in the Malacca Strait. Add to this a tropical downpour with gusts to 35 kts when you can only identify any boat with or without any light in the lightning flashes.

The practice has now extended to OZ where cruising yachts are using them at anchor especially in Darwin. Imagine the difficulty coming into a crowded anchorage at night where you are unable to identify the real navigation marks from the anchored boats. I think the authorities will soon be making a heap of money fining such stupid boat owners.

Even sailing around Thailand in daylight is difficult with multitudes of fishing flags that may indicate a net rather than a fishing trap and huge styrofoam floats now on our boats as "Beetles" (as big as a VW).

I was on watch one night when a moving object in the corner of my eye caught my attention. It was a palm tree sliding down the side of the boat = FAD (fish attracting device). The only rules in SE Asia are that there are no rules.
Paul & Kaspar de Wonda Dog
S/V "Pelican V"
"Trust not a living soul and step warily around the dead"
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Old 08-02-2013, 00:54   #3
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Philippines
Boat: custom 42' catamaran
Posts: 268
Re: navigation lights and colored flashers

I am here in the Philippines and it is very rare to see a local boat with real navigation lights in use. I am moored near the entrance of Tambobo Bay on southern Negros and have often watched the local fishing boats depart just after dark. If a boat has lights they are likely to be deck or cabin lights - if one can see red or green lights they are ambiguous and I have even seen them backwards. When they are fishing the horizon looks like a well lit highway with all the high intensity lights on many of the boats. What is really irritating though is the fishing boats tied stern first near the shore with a 100 meter two inch unmarked floating rode stretching across the harbor to an anchor. I am not sure why they are anchored this way when stern tied, but it is really annoying; but that is the local practice here.
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