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Old 18-05-2015, 05:41   #1
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Nav lights on a catamaran

Another question - We have a few electrical problems with our mast lights and are now replacing them. But I am worried we are not correct.

We have a sailing catamaran Format 400C based in Croatia. Its officially 11.99m. Bit confused about what to do with the nav lights as the field vision is a little different on it than a monohull.

We have:
• port/starboard lights at the mast head, and an anchor light (sailing covered)
• steaming light half way up the mast, with port/starboard light just below it (and a deck light) Is this legal? The port/starboard lights can't go on the bows as the field of vision is not enough, so I presume this is why the did this.
I am also having problems finding a light unit with port/starboard/steaming and deck light in.

Any advice would be really helpful as I am sure the Croatian authorities will fine me!
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Old 18-05-2015, 05:54   #2
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

Can't really help with most of your questions but why do you say you can't put port/starboard lights on the bows.Why wouldn't the field of vision be OK?

Put port light on port hull and starboard light on starboard hull on each bow, correctly angled so that you get 115 degrees from each hull centerline.
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Old 18-05-2015, 06:16   #3
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

I can, but in reality the angles are hard to achieve. The boat came with the nav lights half way up the mast and I am wondering if this is legal. It would be the simplest solution to replace this light, if it is legal.
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Old 18-05-2015, 06:47   #4
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

Steaming light should be a minimum of 1 metre above the Port/starboard lights so you cannot have a combined light unit. Mounting these (p/s) on the mast could restrict their visibility but would still be legal, mounting on the bows would be preferable in my opinion.

The deck light can be wherever you want it - I have seen combined steaming/deck light units

Hope this helps
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Old 18-05-2015, 07:00   #5
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

I have:

Single combination port/starboard light mounted to the gull striker

Steaming light midway up the mast

Anchor light at masthead

stern light on starboard aft pulpit

Been that way from France to Martinique to the US, for 20 years, so they must be legal
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Old 18-05-2015, 09:18   #6
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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Originally Posted by TPOZ3 View Post
Another question - We have a few electrical problems with our mast lights and are now replacing them. But I am worried we are not correct.

We have a sailing catamaran Format 400C based in Croatia. Its officially 11.99m. Bit confused about what to do with the nav lights as the field vision is a little different on it than a monohull.

We have:
• port/starboard lights at the mast head, and an anchor light (sailing covered)
• steaming light half way up the mast, with port/starboard light just below it (and a deck light) Is this legal? The port/starboard lights can't go on the bows as the field of vision is not enough, so I presume this is why the did this.
I am also having problems finding a light unit with port/starboard/steaming and deck light in.

Any advice would be really helpful as I am sure the Croatian authorities will fine me!
I have what may sound like a dumb question? With that placement does a genny not obscure the lights on your leeward side?
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Old 18-05-2015, 10:09   #7
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

I have a cat...I have both. There is a mast head tricolor. I also have bow lights. in harbor I tend to run bows. out in the blue I tend to use top. I do not believe many powerboaters look up. I only run both (illegally) in really bad weather. I rather have someone thinking there might be two boats close together than no boat.
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Old 18-05-2015, 10:22   #8
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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I have what may sound like a dumb question? With that placement does a genny not obscure the lights on your leeward side?
I was dumb! I misread your OP.
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Old 19-05-2015, 13:11   #9
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

Interesting new thread, considering I am facing similar problems. Fountaine Pajot, back in the 90s when they were making the Tobago 35, only installed a trilight tower (with an anchor light) at the top of the mast and a steaming light 25-30% of the way down the mast (combined with a deck light). The steaming light switch and the trilight switch were connected with a diode so that if you turned on the steaming light, the trilight came on. There may have been a stern light at one time.

Although this obviously does not really satisfy the requirements for running under engine, some cats are still popping out of France with only this configuration.

Now that a very thorough surveyor has rubbed my nose in this hard, I am considering what I should do. Ok, first stopgap measure is to only boat during daylight hours; second one is to insist that in darkness, I only sail (great fun when entering strange anchorages - is the searchlight legal?). Third stopgap is to use the anchor light at the top of the mast with a magnetic LED trilight on the bimini (eg. Navilight), with the white light on the trilight covered. This satisfies ABYC requirements.

Interestingly, I was going to use the steaming light and the full trilight on the bimini, as this satisfies what West Marine suggests is legal: Navigation Light Rules | West Marine I wonder what their source is? Indeed, if ABYC is the only acceptable method, what purpose does the steaming light serve? Is it ever legal to use it?

The complete solution is to install permanent deck elevation port and starbord lights and use the anchor lights, judging by my present understanding. I also have concluded (again with my present level of understanding) that having the masthead trilight on with the deck lights is illegal, and might give your insurance company an "out".

I'd enjoy your comments and suggestions.
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Old 19-05-2015, 13:50   #10
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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Originally Posted by Sonosailor View Post
Interesting new thread, considering I am facing similar problems. Fountaine Pajot, back in the 90s when they were making the Tobago 35, only installed a trilight tower (with an anchor light) at the top of the mast and a steaming light 25-30% of the way down the mast (combined with a deck light). The steaming light switch and the trilight switch were connected with a diode so that if you turned on the steaming light, the trilight came on. There may have been a stern light at one time.

Although this obviously does not really satisfy the requirements for running under engine, some cats are still popping out of France with only this configuration.

Now that a very thorough surveyor has rubbed my nose in this hard, I am considering what I should do. Ok, first stopgap measure is to only boat during daylight hours; second one is to insist that in darkness, I only sail (great fun when entering strange anchorages - is the searchlight legal?). Third stopgap is to use the anchor light at the top of the mast with a magnetic LED trilight on the bimini (eg. Navilight), with the white light on the trilight covered. This satisfies ABYC requirements.

Interestingly, I was going to use the steaming light and the full trilight on the bimini, as this satisfies what West Marine suggests is legal: Navigation Light Rules | West Marine I wonder what their source is? Indeed, if ABYC is the only acceptable method, what purpose does the steaming light serve? Is it ever legal to use it?

The complete solution is to install permanent deck elevation port and starbord lights and use the anchor lights, judging by my present understanding. I also have concluded (again with my present level of understanding) that having the masthead trilight on with the deck lights is illegal, and might give your insurance company an "out".

I'd enjoy your comments and suggestions.
The West Marine link provided is a good summary of COLREGS Part C for recreational vessels. Part C covers lights and day shapes for all vessels. To any extent that ABYC has nav light rules, they can only be a duplication of the COLREGS Part C rules.

If you want to be legal in a recreational aux sailing vessel (7m or longer), you need only sidelights, a stern light and a forward mast light meeting the requirements in Part C, which are covered in the West Marine link. The forward mast light is for when you're a power boat >> motoring or motor sailing. Alternatively, for sailing vessels less than 20m, you may use a mast head tricolor (combination side lights and stern light) when only sailing and without the lower side lights and stern light. A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the deck level side lights and stern lights, exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with a combined mast head light. I don't think I've ever seen this option.

Many cruisers like the mast head tricolor lights because there are no "deck level" lights screwing up your night vision.

There is no rule against showing additional lights as long as the additional lights "do not impair the visibility or distinctive character of the prescribed lights." Anyone who has seen a cruise ship at night understands this.

Anchor lights (elevated all around white) are for anchoring, not underway. A really good option is the combination mast head tricolor/anchor light.

There are numerous other light rules for commercial and motor vessels.

Dave
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Old 19-05-2015, 14:35   #11
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

I'm not sure I understand the debate? I thought most counties went with colregs? In the Us inland is a little different but maybe less stringent so colregs still apply.
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Old 19-05-2015, 14:52   #12
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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I'm not sure I understand the debate? I thought most counties went with colregs? In the Us inland is a little different but maybe less stringent so colregs still apply.
There is no debate - the OP had questions and potential misunderstandings. COLREGS apply to international waters, ID'd by COLREGS demarcation lines on charts. US inland differs in a few areas, but not for non-towing, recreational lighting, to my knowledge. Where different for any country's inland waters, COLREGS do not apply - the local inland rules apply.

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Old 19-05-2015, 15:18   #13
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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There is no debate - the OP had questions and potential misunderstandings. COLREGS apply to international waters, ID'd by COLREGS demarcation lines on charts. US inland differs in a few areas, but not for non-towing, recreational lighting, to my knowledge. Where different for any country's inland waters, COLREGS do not apply - the local inland rules apply.

Dave
Dave,

Interesting. I would have thought COLREGS would have been OK with possibly inland not being as strict. Some laws probably date back eons?
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Old 19-05-2015, 15:43   #14
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

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Dave,

Interesting. I would have thought COLREGS would have been OK with possibly inland not being as strict. Some laws probably date back eons?
"Strict" may not be the best word. Just "different" in some respects for US inland vs COLREGS. As you suggest, very likely the differences are due to local rules dating back long before COLREGS and not worth it for individual countries to change long standing rules to fully conform to COLREGS. Towing lights and sound signals are the areas of biggest differences for US vs COLREGS.

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Old 20-05-2015, 13:59   #15
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Re: Nav lights on a catamaran

Thanks, 2Hulls. With some head-scratching and a look at Wikipedia's COLREGS, I am a little more secure in my understanding. However, you said:

"There is no rule against showing additional lights as long as the additional lights "do not impair the visibility or distinctive character of the prescribed lights."

Do you perceive that running a masthead trilight with a steaming light forward, deck red and green, and a stern light, all at the same time does or does not impair the distinctive character of the prescribed lights?
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