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Old 05-11-2010, 03:49   #1
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Are Blinking Anchor Lights Legal ?

Recently while anchored in a fairly well used anchorage (Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, Qld) we noticed a neighboring yacht displaying a nice bright masthead LED anchor light, very similar to a number of other nearby yachts and fully meeting the SOLAS requirements. The big difference was that in addition he had an equally bright LED hung above his boom... that was blinking (isophase aprox 1 second). It was really eyecatching and certainly set him apart from all the rest of us. Chatted him up the next day -- seems that the light in question was a marker for the floats at the end of offshore long-line fishing setups. Ran on 2 D cells for a month, had a built-in light sensor for automatic operation, and (get this) cost 7 Aussie dollars in a fishermans supply place somewhere in SE Asia. How cool is that???

Now I think that this would often be a great setup for us. Anything that gets the attention of someone moving about an anchorage in the dark is good stuff, plus it separates your boat from all the other anchor lights when you're returning at night.

So, my question for all you legal beagles out there: if you are displaying the required all-around white light, is the addition of a blinking light legal? I can't see why not, but sometimes my desires obliterate reality! Also, these lights are available in many colors, so how about some color that does not imitate a bouy... would that be ok?

I await your wisdom.

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Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld, southbound
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:59   #2
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Hi Jim,

I am not a marine lawyer but suspect you've already answered your own question.

I'ver seen plenty of anchored yachts on our journeys and many committed cruiseres make do with deck level solar powered garden lamps - and whilst that may be illegal I've never heard of any of them being fined.

Plus we've all seen cruise liners steaming or at anchor with millions of candle power generating lots of differing coloured flashing lights - and remain legal by having it's smaller navigation lights on.

So I would be 100% sure you can add your flashing deck lamp and not risk a penalty anywhere.

The realities are that in bad visibility and a crowded anchorage the more deck lights you can show, the less likelihood of someone not seeing you, and the easier it is to find your own boat when puttering back after a few cleansing ales ashore! Just be sure you have enough power to illuminate them.

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Old 05-11-2010, 03:59   #3
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My 2p worth (based on human factors, not sailing) is that if you are the only "blinker" in the anchorage then you will stand out. If everyone blinks then you will be lost in the "noise".

Besides, don't buoys and channel markers blink? What would it be like approaching a mooring full of "blinkers" and trying to pick out the official "blinkers"?
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:05   #4
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So, my question for all you legal beagles out there: if you are displaying the required all-around white light, is the addition of a blinking light legal? I can't see why not, but sometimes my desires obliterate reality! Also, these lights are available in many colors, so how about some color that does not imitate a bouy... would that be ok?
Not a "legal beagle", but my understanding is that as long as you display the required lights nothing says you can not display other lights (including other colors).
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:09   #5
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Over 'This side' the blinking anchor lights been used by boaters for a coupla years now... mainly on smaller (-30ft) boats who hoist it or hang of the boom...
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:34   #6
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Often times masthead anchor lights fail to convince me they can be seen by anyone else than a sailor looking for them.

A strobe seems slef indulgent as they might irritate others and unsafe as they look like some marks.

I have 5 (there should be 6 but 1 borke) deck level lights that show the outline of my boat.

I doubt you can see them at 1 nm but I don't mind as other benifits outweight. They are solar and come on at dusk off at dawn, the machine doesnt forget, where I do or I may be off the boat.

they would be nice to be a bit brighter... but not much

Mark
PS I do use that type of strobe when I am single handing. It is illegal etc, but without AIS I feel better...
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:00   #7
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It's right there in Rule #20 (b) "The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistake for the lights specified in the Rules or do not impair their visibility of distinctive character, on interfere with the keeping of a proper lookout."

Ok, the "cannot be mistaken" phrase is the key. A cruise ship can show all manner of lights, as long as none of them look like a navigation light or navaid. The blinking light you propose could easily be mistaken for a white light on a buoy, and therefore you should not display it.

Should a mariner mistake your cockpit light for something else and suffer damages, you could be held liable in court...

my two cents.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:08   #8
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Originally Posted by doug86 View Post
It's right there in Rule #20 (b) "The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistake for the lights specified in the Rules or do not impair their visibility of distinctive character, on interfere with the keeping of a proper lookout."

Ok, the "cannot be mistaken" phrase is the key. A cruise ship can show all manner of lights, as long as none of them look like a navigation light or navaid. The blinking light you propose could easily be mistaken for a white light on a buoy, and therefore you should not display it.

Should a mariner mistake your cockpit light for something else and suffer damages, you could be held liable in court...

my two cents.
Doug, thanks for that. I had this nasty feeling that something would rule out this usage, and I think your rule quotation pretty well knocks the idea in the head... at least for a white light. But how about one of some color that is not used on nav aids? Say purple, for instance... could that be reasonably "mistaken for a light specified in the rules" ?
Or a set of LED's spelling out "Eat at Joe's"? Or whatever...

Whaddya think?

Jim
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:17   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
. But how about one of some color that is not used on nav aids? Say purple, for instance... could that be reasonably "mistaken for a light specified in the rules" ?

Jim
Hi Jim,

I have a string of solar powered christmas tree lights from the boom They give SL a festive feel!
Unfortunately all bar 2 of the 100 LEDS are stuffed. I reckon to wait till the post Christmas sales... whadda think!?
BTW they can only be seen about 200 meters away.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:22   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Doug, thanks for that. I had this nasty feeling that something would rule out this usage, and I think your rule quotation pretty well knocks the idea in the head... at least for a white light. But how about one of some color that is not used on nav aids? Say purple, for instance... could that be reasonably "mistaken for a light specified in the rules" ?
Or a set of LED's spelling out "Eat at Joe's"? Or whatever...

Whaddya think?

Jim
Any color that isn't part of regular navigation would be fine. Purple. You see tugs with amber deck lights on all the time. Amber is fine. A neon sign would be fine too.

ps: those little garden lights are ok because the don't blink, and because they don't have much visibility range. I have 4 LED blue deck lights that come on at night, so I can find my boat easily in a crowded anchorage, and no one will hit it with their dinghy. Up on the mast is a bright, all around anchor light as prescribed by the Rules.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:35   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug86 View Post
It's right there in Rule #20 (b) "The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistake for the lights specified in the Rules or do not impair their visibility of distinctive character, on interfere with the keeping of a proper lookout."

Ok, the "cannot be mistaken" phrase is the key. A cruise ship can show all manner of lights, as long as none of them look like a navigation light or navaid. The blinking light you propose could easily be mistaken for a white light on a buoy, and therefore you should not display it.

Should a mariner mistake your cockpit light for something else and suffer damages, you could be held liable in court...

my two cents.
I doubt the case would hold water.... it'd be damned bad navigation practice to take a light for granted...
Coming into ports at night one often see's flashing reds, whites and greens on the shore with no nav significance.. just bars/clubs/brake lights etc...
One checks bearings all the time and use the chart info... all sea marks have sequences... if the above happened it would be NEGLIGENCE..
Pure and Simple...
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Old 05-11-2010, 06:37   #12
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Besides their not being legal, common sense says: blinking lights are confusing and annoying to night time navigators looking for lit bouys, with a background of blinking lights on anchored boats.

LED garden solar lights are WAY too dim!

Having spent a couple of thousand nights on the hook, and trying to dink out to my boat at night, I can say that masthead anchor lights, though legal, are useless for this, as in an anchorage with 40 boats, they all look the same, and mostly... JUST LIKE A STAR!

What I do is this: I have a "FIRST STAR" LED cluster bulb with automatic photo switch, mounted into an Aqua Signal 40 (all around white) housing with upper & lower hanging bales. (This is almost as brite as the 20W it replaces, @ < 1W draw!)

Using a rolling hitch, I hang this as high as I can reach from my roller furlled jib sheets, in the middle of the for-triangle. With it dangeling from a 3' section of twine, and the lower twine & wire being slack, the light swings actively! (unless there is "0" wind) The wire's plug, mates to it's socket mounted in the cabin front. It is waterproof & has a cap.

More often than not, I rig TWO LED Lights, with the other being in the stern. This eliminates the small "blind spot" created by the rig!

By having these lights about 12' off of the water... moving around, bright, and a "different hue", I can spot my boat from a half mile away. More importantly, those guys zipping through the anchorage late at night, (after a few drinks), can see the boat right off!
Best... Mark
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:02   #13
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I doubt the case would hold water....
from Farwell's (page 485) "...the court's conclusion that any departure from the rules regarding lights constitutes one of the most recklessly unlawful acts a vessel can commit. In cases of collision, the courts are as certain to hold a vessel at fault for improper lights as for a violation of signal requirements or for a failure to maintain proper lookout."

Farwell's Rules of the Nautical Road never cites any opinion without backing it up with actual case law citations.

You can doubt all you want, but there are court cases that support what I said.
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:11   #14
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Got by for years with my cheap salt shaker anchor light. It draws less than .02 of an amp, a GM sidelight socket and bulb. This was before the days of LEDs.



Just ordered this one. Time to switch to an LED anchor light.



By the way if you're dazzled by all the lights on cruise ships just call them up on the vhf and say you can't make out their nav lights. They usually will switch everything off and you'll be able to make the lights out.
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:43   #15
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There's always a creative solution!

Previously mentioned solar Christmas lights that don't work came down to Project Corner... the saloon floor and I just cut it up and triend to get a 12v LED all round 20 LED anchoring light to work



Damn!

But the good news is I have been able to string together lots of the corroded Chrissy leds to make a fair string

I will manage a way to get an auto on/off solar brighter anchoring light without paying big bucks!

I just need more creative thought!

Shuttup! I'm thinking. Creatively.


Still thinking....


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