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Old 10-05-2013, 05:33   #1
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Death Wish

Recently, we went across the little bahamas bank from mangrove cay to memory rock, starting out at midnight. A run of about 25 miles, all about 12' deep. This is a VERY common route and often used at night by cruising power and sailboats.
All the chartbooks and chartplotters show a course line for this route.

We were running this route at night and saw a mark on the radar directly on the chartplotter course line. I hailed 3 times on ch 16 and 3 times on 68, commonly used in the bahamas with no response.
We could not see any lights even at 1/2 mile but the radar return was strong.
Finally at about 200 yards I could see 2 very weak solar garden lights. I had to really be lookingfor them to be able to see them. Someone behind a dodger would not have seen the lights within 50'. I lit up the sailboat with my flashlight for the other boats behind me to see.

He was anchored directly on the very popular course line with 2 totally worthless garden lights. I hope darwin gets him before he causes damage and injury to others.
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:47   #2
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re: Death Wish

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Originally Posted by gettinthere View Post
......
He was anchored directly on the very popular course line with 2 totally worthless garden lights. I hope darwin gets him before he causes damage and injury to others.
Bet he didn't have his black ball up during the day either .
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Old 10-05-2013, 05:53   #3
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re: Death Wish

Back in the day it was pretty common to cross paths with Bahamian fishing boats and small freighters running completely dark at night. Just north of Nassau one black night we encountered a tug boat lit up like Christmas, but with no discernible running lights. My spider sense was tingling so I decided to wait until he was well away before crossing his stern, and I'm glad I did because eventually out of the dark loomed an enormous water barge on a long tow without any lights.

If you anchor on the banks at night, show a bright anchor light, and a masthead light is perfect there so that you can be seen from a long way off.
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:58   #4
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re: Death Wish

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If you anchor on the banks at night, show a bright anchor light, and a masthead light is perfect there so that you can be seen from a long way off.
And move off the rhumb lines between the major entrance and exit points for the banks.

We too constantly ran up on boats who simply stopped and dropped anchor at night right on the major course lines that everyone is traveling. Many do not have any lights on at all.

Frankly, I don't understand anchoring on the banks at night. If the weather is bad, the anchoring is awful and you might as well keep going. If the weather is good, you might as well keep going before it turns.

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Old 10-05-2013, 08:29   #5
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Re: Death Wish

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and a masthead light is perfect there so that you can be seen from a long way off.
I don't like mast head lights, particularly LEDs as they look like stars.

I have my anchor light 6 feet above the deck, 2nm warm LED in a clear Coke bottle.


And I have garden lights about 6 of them. The best ones I have bought were in the USA at Walmart for 87 cents each.... Full charge keeps them going 48 hours!
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:34   #6
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Re: Death Wish

The business of just dropping your hook right on the rhumb line seems to me to be at best un-thought out, and at worst, dreadfully stupid. But then I've seen vessels anchored in the middle of channels, too.

It is related, however, to another phenomenon, easy to understand and easy to avoid. People sit down and plot their courses to leave rocks and points safely away. Now comes the fog. Everybody keeps on on their courses, sometimes following powerboats with radars on. As long as everyone's headed the same way and keep a similar speed, no great worries. However, if there are vessels travelling in the opposite direction at the same time, it can lead to one of those heart-thumping close calls. On frequently travelled routes, it may be wise to travel off to one side of the rhumb line, as well as to anchor off it.

That awful feeling when you suddenly realize there really is something there, that's what happens on a passage when you overtake an unlit vessel. Yes, radar is great "eyes" in the dark, but sometimes timber boats don't show up at all, and are also unlit. The mark 1 eyeball is a wonderful thing!

Sail on.

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Old 10-05-2013, 12:49   #7
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Re: Death Wish

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However, if there are vessels travelling in the opposite direction at the same time, it can lead to one of those heart-thumping close calls.
So true. At night or in limited visibility situations I will deliberately take routes where I suspect there will be less traffic, often leaving navigation aids far off in the distance--just about everyone plugs in buoys and lights as waypoints and you can just about guarantee there will be other vessels converging on those locations in poor visibility.
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Old 10-05-2013, 13:04   #8
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Re: Death Wish

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I don't like mast head lights, particularly LEDs as they look like stars.

I have my anchor light 6 feet above the deck, 2nm warm LED in a clear Coke bottle.


And I have garden lights about 6 of them. The best ones I have bought were in the USA at Walmart for 87 cents each.... Full charge keeps them going 48 hours!
We have two solar spot lights from Walmart we use to light the cockpit at night. That is in addition to the masthead anchor light. They were a bit more, but work well.

Been thinking about the garden lights too. Might stick them in the winches for a bit more lighting.

Better well lite than run over.
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Old 10-05-2013, 14:28   #9
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Re: Death Wish

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
... If you anchor on the banks at night, show a bright anchor light, and a masthead light is perfect there so that you can be seen from a long way off.
And, preferably, at least 1/2 mile off the "magenta line".
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Old 10-05-2013, 14:35   #10
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Re: Death Wish

Anchoring on the banks is one time I like having a few other boats around in the anchorage. The extra lights make for a greater chance someone coming along will be alerted, and there is something extremely lonely about being anchored out there, out of sight of land, all by yourself. But, if you get a calm enough night, I highly recommend it. Very neat to see the stars right down to the horizon all around. Turn off all your lights for long enough to be able to appreciate the view, and then of course run your best anchor light the rest of the night!
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