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Old 15-08-2013, 13:05   #1
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Stern Floodlight

So, I just installed this nifty LED floodlight on the davits to light the transoms and the area between the hulls. Makes dinghy arrivals at night pleasant. It takes nearly no power and I can leave it on all night.

My question for the denizens is: When away from the boat with the dinghy, should I leave it on or off? On lights the area and may be a deterrent to evildoers who want to board. But it also highlights the fact that the crew is ashore. Maybe they know that anyway with good eyes or a flashlight. What do you think?
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Old 16-08-2013, 09:17   #2
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Re: Stern Floodlight

I can find no reason for leaving it on, frankly. Aside from saying "WE ARE AWAY" and making boarding so much safer for thieves, even an LED flood is a source of light pollution that destroys the night vision of those trying to find shore marks or nav aids.

It's the visual equivalent of leaving a parked car idling. Or an over-sensitive car alarm. Anyone in a city knows it's hard to go a day without hearing one of those menaces.

I recall coming into Charlotte Amalie at midnight and trying along with the skipper to locate the FlR and FlG marks against the town's traffic and streetlights. Fat chance, although we eventually saw them. Throwing in a floodlight on a boat that's not even occupied would compound the issue. Imagine EVERYONE in the anchorage having them. Now you are motoring a tender at night and no one has dark-adapted eyes. It's like the definition of endless love: Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles playing tennis.

If you wish to leave a light on, leave one on in the saloon, but with closed sheer portlight curtains. No one will know there isn't anyone aboard. Throw in a stereo on low, with say a symphony on a CD on "repeat", and the illusion is near-complete. Even a thief "casing the joint" in a rowboat would select a fully dark and quiet boat over a potential interaction. As a one-time audio producer, I would probably make a classical recording with sounds of galley work, dog noises and conversation mixed in. Only the most homicidal villians would board a boat that sounded like that.

Back to the stern light: I'm not saying you shouldn't have it; it's clearly a useful safety device. But I suspect it would not be hard to add either a waterproof switch on your rail or stern or a waterproof IR or RF "remote" you can carry in your pocket to switch on the light when needed, meaning it is only ON when needed...and off most of the time.

An alternative is to get those waterproof accent lights for the boarding ladder, but switched. Pull the ladder down (after unlocking it) and the lights glow. You can then get aboard and manually switch on the stern light for area illumination to get the tender in davits.

Frankly, however, most people seem to use Petzl or similar headlamps. Some varnish the lens to throw a yellowish light...easier on the eyes. Use the headlamps to find the ladder...get aboard and then light up the boat.

Hope these suggestions help...to keep you popular in the anchorage and yet meet your safety needs.
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Old 16-08-2013, 12:13   #3
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Re: Stern Floodlight

Good points, thanks.
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Old 16-08-2013, 15:00   #4
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Re: Stern Floodlight

G'Day all,

Well, I think that a light that illuminates the aft end of your boat is quite a worthwhile addition. Can't see that it adds any more "light pollution" than your (effective) anchor light, and adds dimensionality to the information presented to the incoming vessel. Much easier to gauge distance off from a boat so lit than with just a masthead anchor light. Further, it is hard to imagine that it will be confused with any sort of navigation marker light: not a point source, not blinking, not coloured and associated with an obvious vessel.

Many boats, including most cats that I am familiar with, are boarded from astern, and clambering over the sides is awkward at the least. Thus, any unwanted boarders are likely to board from astern. If that area is well lighted many villains will go elsewhere, for they don't like being seen as they go about their evil deeds! And if one habitually leaves the light on, it's presence does not signify "owner absent".

We have a simple dome light on the solar arch, located over the BBQ. I have found it to be quite useful over our many years of cruising, lighting the sugar scoop area and any nearby dinghy as well. No neighbor has ever complained about its useage. When we return to the boat it will be replaced with an LED lamp, and it will be left on far more frequently than its power hungry predecessor!

So, SVNeko, IMO your proposal is quite reasonable and should not cause any difficulty to others. I can't say whether it helps or hinders villains, though!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 16-08-2013, 15:53   #5
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Re: Stern Floodlight

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Much easier to gauge distance off from a boat so lit than with just a masthead anchor light.
+1. The extra lighting will help rather than hinder other boats.

In terms of security I think it will help as well. There is no reason to be sure all the crew have gone ashore. The light makes boarding easier to spot and a more likely identification.

Few yachts have taken advantage of the relative recent development of bright cheap LEDs with low power consumption that make it feasible to light yachts at anchor more like their big brothers.
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Old 16-08-2013, 18:21   #6
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Re: Stern Floodlight

You can have it automated with a sensor (proximity? movement?)

You can leave some cabin light on, and some music playing. This may mislead some unwanted visitors.

b.
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Old 17-08-2013, 00:29   #7
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Re: Stern Floodlight

Picture everyone with a stern light left on, or just try to locate your car in a parking lot with people randomly pointing headlights at you.

If you need to find your boat via a large, but amp-sipping, light that illuminates the stern, soon so will everyone. You will remain as lost, but now with compromised night vision.

Just my take on it. Overlit boats are unnecessary. If you can't pick out your own boat, hang two or three of the tiniest LEDs on the rail, like blue, green, white. You can turn on the big light when you reach your boat.
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:22   #8
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Re: Stern Floodlight

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Picture everyone with a stern light left on, or just try to locate your car in a parking lot with people randomly pointing headlights at you.

If you need to find your boat via a large, but amp-sipping, light that illuminates the stern, soon so will everyone. You will remain as lost, but now with compromised night vision.

Just my take on it. Overlit boats are unnecessary. If you can't pick out your own boat, hang two or three of the tiniest LEDs on the rail, like blue, green, white. You can turn on the big light when you reach your boat.
Alchemy, I think that you are missing the point of these lights. They serve two purposes: illuminating the aft portion of your boat so that activities on board can be carried out (including boarding safely from a dinghy), and to help an incoming vessel accurately judge his distance off and to avoid colliding with your anchored boat. They are not aids to help you find your boat in the "parking lot".

Further, they are not aimed horizontally, but rather downward to achieve this purpose. Thus they will not be any more detrimental to another boats night vision than the anchor lights, shore lights or navigation aids in the area.

And for the case where "everyone else doing it"... I would far rather have this situation than the current one where many boats are totally unlit at night and others use dim and fading garden lights as their imitation of an anchor light. I don't know where you cruise, or if you do, but in the many anchorages in the South Pacific that I have used over the years, unlit or poorly lit boats are way too common.

You are entitled to your opinion but you are a long way from convincing me of its validity.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 17-08-2013, 09:28   #9
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Re: Stern Floodlight

Flashlights?
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Old 17-08-2013, 12:53   #10
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Re: Stern Floodlight

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Alchemy, I think that you are missing the point of these lights. They serve two purposes: illuminating the aft portion of your boat so that activities on board can be carried out (including boarding safely from a dinghy), and to help an incoming vessel accurately judge his distance off and to avoid colliding with your anchored boat. They are not aids to help you find your boat in the "parking lot".

Further, they are not aimed horizontally, but rather downward to achieve this purpose. Thus they will not be any more detrimental to another boats night vision than the anchor lights, shore lights or navigation aids in the area.

And for the case where "everyone else doing it"... I would far rather have this situation than the current one where many boats are totally unlit at night and others use dim and fading garden lights as their imitation of an anchor light. I don't know where you cruise, or if you do, but in the many anchorages in the South Pacific that I have used over the years, unlit or poorly lit boats are way too common.

You are entitled to your opinion but you are a long way from convincing me of its validity.

Cheers,

Jim
I'm not objecting to the light per se. I'm objecting to leaving it on when it's not in use. Consider the local fishermen who tend to have (if anything) a weak oil lamp to show where they are. A well-lit anchorage not only ruins the recreational sailor's night vision for to- and fro-ing in either the main boat or a tender, raising the possibility of collision, but also has the known effect of concentrating sealife directly off your stern (in this example). The fishermen are going to see this and fish where the light is. How long the fish will last so "baited" is a matter for conjecture, but I wouldn't consider it ideal for me to try to squeeze between my boat and some panga full of locals trying to bring in a load of squid at 2 AM.

In addition, half the boats strongly lit in the anchorage render those boats with just the typical anchor light or light hoist into the triangle less visible to boats underway. You have made a host of new visual distractions. The anchorage becomes a fun house of bright and dark areas. Now I must add blackout curtains to my portlights and hatches, because maybe the boats beside me are not quite so careful with their floodlight angles. Note they are called "floodlights": the light is meant to go all over the place.

Lastly, so long, starlight. You might as well be in an RV in a mall parking lot (exaggeration for rhetorical effect, but again, if everyone has a downward-pointing stern light of sufficient strength, the resemblance to street lights would be close).

Lights, when inappropriate, can be considered a form of pollution. Just as I choose not to pump out inshore, I choose not to light my boat like a stage, unless for safety reasons, I need to briefly light to embark.

So there's some more reasons for you, Jim.
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Old 17-08-2013, 13:00   #11
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While I think your points are valid and well-intentioned, I think you are overestimating the luminosity of this light. It's a circle of light between the hulls in the rear and on the transoms. Not nearly bright enough to attract fishermen or illuminate a neighboring boat.
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Old 17-08-2013, 14:11   #12
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Re: Stern Floodlight

I love CF !

This thread is talking about a stern safety light on an anchored cat - and gets a complaint that the light would make maneuvering difficult for an inbound boat. {More so if many others copied the idea and the anchorage becomes awash with light.}

Meanwhile, on another thread (wish I could find it again) somebody else noted that boats with only a regulation anchor light are difficult to see because of all the background town lights, and thus makes maneuvering difficult for an inbound boat.

Opinions, it seems, may vary....

To the OP: I like your idea!
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Old 17-08-2013, 18:00   #13
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I use my phone and a real cheap nav app when I anchor. Makes it easy to know where I left the boat. A flashlight in the dink helps if I forget where the steps are. Usually I can find the swim ladder without the flashlight. It's on the flat end.
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Old 17-08-2013, 18:43   #14
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Re: Stern Floodlight

Before going night time SCUBA diving, I attach a probe light to my tank. While underwater, it continues flashing for the duration of the dive; flashing every 10 seconds or so. Divers like this gizmo a lot as, when you are in a pitch black environment, this flashing removes some of their fear of disorientation. The safety diver on board of the boat, can also track the movement of the group from above.

A strobe light can also be attached to your mast, with regulated flashing; a tungsten white flash every minute or so. It is easy to spot your boat from a long distance. When placed high enough, it will not blind anyone or be visual for those down below.

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Old 17-08-2013, 23:49   #15
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Re: Stern Floodlight

That seems a reasonable compromise, actually.
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