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Old 08-10-2016, 13:16   #1
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Masthead Tricolor or Inhull/Pulpits Running Lights

For those of you that have, like me, both a masthead mounted tricolor light as well as inhull/pulpits mounted tricolor lights, which do you run on passage and why? I am wondering how much work to put into renewing the inhull stern & bow running lights. Off hand it would seem the tricolor 50 feet in the air would be preferred, but whats your preference?

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Old 08-10-2016, 13:58   #2
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

I use the hull lights for motoring and the masthead for sailing. One switch turns on the hull/steaming lights, another the masthead sailing lights.
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Old 08-10-2016, 14:01   #3
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

You have to have both. Tricolour for sailing, lower lights +steaming light for motoring.


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Old 08-10-2016, 14:30   #4
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

You do need to have the deck level lights plus a steaming light if you are motoring at night.

The masthead tricolour is easier for other small craft to see if there is much of a sea state, so that is a draw to using it. However, we've had several posts here from merchant seamen who say that from the bridge of a ship, it is difficult to determine the distance to elevated lights like that. They prefer that we use deck level lights, which they can see pretty well even with biggish seas.

So, to some degree the choice depends on just who you want to see you... hellofa thing!

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Old 08-10-2016, 16:18   #5
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

I have a real dislike of tricolor lights. Because of the height and relative dimness they can be misleading when viewed from the bridge of a large ship (or any boat). Modern superbright LED lights might help a bit, but this doesnt help much when trying to judge distances.

Back when I was a watch offficer on container ships and roro's we found the tricolors to be very difficult to spot and judge the distance off.

I wont have one onboard for this reason, I much prefer red over green sailing lights up the mast and deck level nav lights
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Old 08-10-2016, 16:53   #6
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

Bridge tenders, at night, will not open for you, even when contacted on the VHF, if you have the mast tricolor lights on, instead of the deck level navigation lights because....they judge your distance to be way too far from the bridge to open it right then.
Even if your mast light is right up to their window!. From their perspective, they see you a mile away.
Use the tricolor only when out in open waters or choppy seas. If close by other crafts, as in the Intracoastal Waterways or a river, just use the deck lights for others to judge your distance better.
Similarly, with the anchor light. Way up the mast is difficult to judge how far you are or you may look as a star in the sky or a plane. (Ask tow boat Captains). If in close quarters, use lights closer to the deck.
Oh; Heard there may be a problem using LED bulbs that are not Coast Guard approved or somehow regulated by the guvm't. in case of a dispute or accident. Check into that.
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Old 08-10-2016, 17:09   #7
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

Used to rely on the masthead tricolor before LED's came out. The old bright incandescent deck lights ate up a lot of juice with thee bulbs to feed whole the mast head light only had one bulb. Now with LED's, the deck lights eat so little electrons I run them exclusively.

The mast head lights probably have greater range because of their height but don't think they are technically legal to run while motoring because the steaming light is under them not above. Mast head tricolor ight is not required, in any case.
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Old 08-10-2016, 17:12   #8
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

i placed light boards inmy shrouds 10 ft of f water and wide spread. i am visible. i have noticed the bow lights on approaching boats look like 1 light and are difficult to see unitil on top of the boat approaching. masthead lights all look like white until it is right there-- neither is adequate. that is why i went to the old fashioned be seen method. 10 ft up and wide spread, and very bright

by the way--masthead lights are not mandatory.
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Old 08-10-2016, 17:53   #9
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

I'm not set up currently but will be before long.
Here's the plan
Masthead tri-color with all around anchor light
Bi-color fixture hanging from top rail of the pulpit
6 Amber lights just above the shear: at bow, just in front cockpit and on the stern

Sailing: tri-color
Anchored: Anchor light at masthead
Motoring: bi-color plus anchor light as steaming light

Amber lights are on whenever any navigation light is on.

I get lights high and low in all modes and no confusing or unusual light arrangements.

The only problem I'm having is finding a 4 position rotary switch with 90degree indexing that isn't $100 or more.


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Old 09-10-2016, 05:28   #10
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

Hey, thanks people. You've convinced me to do a good job on renewing my decks light with brighter LED fixtures to go with my newer and brighter masthead tricolor. The comments about the preferences of big ship watch keeper's were sobering.

In redoing the bow lights I may move the OEM lights that are embedded in the hull in favor of up onto the bow pulpit.

So another question, what do people think of a single bicolor fixture on centerline on the bow versus individual fixtures on the port and starboard sides of the bow pulpit? The one fixture choice has an ease of installation and possibly maintenance advantage, but what about visibility?

Thanks!
J


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Old 09-10-2016, 05:40   #11
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
Hey, thanks people. You've convinced me to do a good job on renewing my decks light with brighter LED fixtures to go with my newer and brighter masthead tricolor. The comments about the preferences of big ship watch keeper's were sobering.

In redoing the bow lights I may move the OEM lights that are embedded in the hull in favor of up onto the bow pulpit.

So another question, what do people think of a single bicolor fixture on centerline on the bow versus individual fixtures on the port and starboard sides of the bow pulpit? The one fixture choice has an ease of installation and possibly maintenance advantage, but what about visibility?

Thanks!
J


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Depends on the pulpit design for one thing. The lights need to be visible 22.5° abaft the beam, so if the pulpit is fairly "square", you may have problems.

Also the vessel size. Maximum 20 meters for a centerline bicolour.
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Old 09-10-2016, 05:45   #12
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

I like two separate lights. Its just that little bit easier to interpret when seen from ahead, and they can be further aft and better protected from a berthing mishap..

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Old 09-10-2016, 06:01   #13
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

offshore I would use the tricolor...

in coastal regions where one expects a lot more traffic I would use the rail mounted.

If I was concerned about visibility... I would use both... the point being to be seen.
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Old 09-10-2016, 10:51   #14
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

I am really surprised by the number of highly qualified and or experienced seamen who say they have trouble judging distance of tricolour lights.
I have worked as mate on offshore tugs upto 60 metres and I can't think of any vessel like that which does not have a decent radar. If a light is seen you immediately refer to the radar. No where in my commercial training was I taught to judge distance to a light by using the naked eye.
I was skipper of a high speed 16m commercial fishing vessel for many years. I have seen how waves obscure side lights mounted on the pulpit when observed from a vessel to leeward.
Masthead tricolour are good in my opinion.
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Old 09-10-2016, 11:24   #15
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Re: masthead tricolor or inhull/pulpits running lights

The addition of a Vesper AIS will take away any issues the big boats have judging your distance from them. LED's will make you more visible from all positions, and draw way less than the dimmer incandescent bulbs of old.
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