Originally Posted by boatpoker
The light reflecting off the sail actually makes it more visible. I am the only person I have ever seen flying a day anchor
signal and have only ever seen one sailing vessel fly an inverted cone.
I think the entire topic is a waste of time since all sailors (except 2) seem to ignore these rules
Most of the masthead lights I've seen are only about 10 watts - visible from at-best 2 miles away. If you place a sail in front of that lamp, the visible distance will be drastically reduced.
The COLREGS state:
(a) “Masthead light” means a white light placed over the fore and aft
centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon
of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5
degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.
If a collision
occurs, you can bet the attorney for the opposing side will argue that your sail obscured the light, violating the definition that it be an "unbroken light". Of course, the whole objective is to never meet that attorney, so if you feel lighting
up your sail with your masthead light somehow reduces your risk of collision
, then that's up to you. I won't argue against your prerogative (though a lawyer certainly will). As for me, I always have a high intensity light ready in the cockpit
, which I shine on my sails
whenever it appears a motorboat doesn't quite recognize that I'm under sail. "See here: I have a sail up." (That's cheating if you're insisting on standing on with the status of a sailboat while motorsailing, by the way.)
So far as the "why bother if other sailors don't know what it means" argument goes: while it would be a bad thing to collide with another sailboat, it would be a proportionally much worse experience for my 5 ton sailboat to collide with a 5,000 ton motor
boat -- where I will leave only an insignificant smudge on their hull
. Those of us who spent hours studying the Rules Of The Road for our Master's license
(for which a score of 90% or better is required to pass) do (or should) know what all the lights and shapes mean. And those are the people who are skippering the boats that I really want to avoid meeting on the water
... and later in court (if I survive).
only a 26 foot sloop
. But I have compressor-driven air horns, radar
class B, and a red-over-green all-around light on the top of my mast
. And still, in the San Francisco
Bay, it doesn't feel like enough collision avoidance. The smaller you are, the more assertive you need to be about being seen and heard...