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Old 09-04-2011, 07:04   #1
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Stern Light at Anchor

My stern light is wired on a separate circuit so it can be turned on independently of the port and starboard lights. The stern lights provides illumination for the boarding platform so it used for safety when guests are arriving or departing..
It draws 2A so has always been used sparingly, but I am about to replace it with a LED which could be left on much longer, without any power concerns.

Can I use a stern light at anchor as long as I also show an all-round white anchor light?

If I installed a separate light to illuminate the boarding platform ( which is allowed, even encouraged by the navigation rules) it would have a similar arc of visibility but I have never seen another boat use a stern light like this.

Thoughts anyone?
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:11   #2
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Re: Stern light at anchor.

I think you're perfectly legal showing the stern light while at anchor, but your neighbors might find it annoying. Low level lights like that will shine out over the water at or near eye level of people in other cockpits, and LED lights are particularly harsh and unpleasant to look at. I personally am not a fan of light pollution, particularly on the water. Powerboats are usually the worst offenders. Whoever invented these underwater lights they use to attract all the sharks in the area should be forced to walk the plank--at night!
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:12   #3
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

As long as you show an anchor light you should be good. I'm no legal authority but I don't know of any rule that prohibits a boat at anchor from showing more than one light.... what about cockpit lights, interior cabin lights that shine out, deck lights, etc?

What you do need to avoid is showing lights that would be misleading or misconstrued as a vessel under way, a distress signal (e.g. strobe) etc.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:13   #4
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Used for a short period of time necessary to bring aboard guests or help them depart, I see no problems with any reg's. Leaving it on all night might be a problem with a "snitty" LEO. Remember if you have an insured boat, changing any navigation light to something other than an "officially approved" light or an OEM replacement bulb can void your insurance in cases where the light could be considered a factor.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:24   #5
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

RULE 20: APPLICATION

Quote:
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 which cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules...
So, your stern light most certainly can be mistaken for a light specified in the rules, meaning that your display of it at anchor is indeed a violation of the Rules.

Your vessel would be showing "white over white" when viewed from astern, which is the masthead configuration of a vessel engaged in towing.

A light of a color not specified in the rules is fine, like an amber light, or a blue light.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:32   #6
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Doug is absolutely correct in the technical and legal sense. But we cruised the Gulf Coast IWW a couple of times and anchoring anywhere can mean a late night encounter with a transiting tug and barge. We use a series of solar lights at deck level in addition to our LED anchor light while at anchor to give us more visibility. Both tug Captains and local DNR have commented on the lights as a good idea while at anchor. Having said that of course, you run the potential for legal risks should an incident occur and you wind up in court. Our preference, and only ours, is to have the security of additional visibility over potential legal concerns that may never happen. But of course every Skipper has to make their own decisions here. Chuck
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:32   #7
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Thanks for all the replies, keep them coming, I am interested in everyone’s opinion. To clarify the usage I am considering leaving the stern light on when visiting other boats for dinner or drinks a fairly common occurrence for a cruising sailor.
The stern light would provide some security illumination and would provide some light, to assist boarding, when I returned to the boat.
The light is a Lopolight so its not just a bulb replacement and is legal as stern light. For the small current it draw,s and the cost, it seem a shame not to use it as a dual purpose light.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:44   #8
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Quote:
Originally Posted by doug86 View Post

So, your stern light most certainly can be mistaken for a light specified in the rules, meaning that your display of it at anchor is indeed a violation of the Rules.

Your vessel would be showing "white over white" when viewed from astern, which is the masthead configuration of a vessel engaged in towing.
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Thanks for you opinion. I asked the question and I want to understand the implications. so I don’t like to challenge people that have taken the time to answer, but would not the same be true of a deck light or even a cabin light ?
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:48   #9
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Quote:
Originally Posted by doug86 View Post
RULE 20: APPLICATION

So, your stern light most certainly can be mistaken for a light specified in the rules, meaning that your display of it at anchor is indeed a violation of the Rules.

Your vessel would be showing "white over white" when viewed from astern, which is the masthead configuration of a vessel engaged in towing.

A light of a color not specified in the rules is fine, like an amber light, or a blue light.
Yep. It's against inland and colregs to display such lighting. I don't think a light to illuminate a boarding platform would be visible for a mile out (or however bright your current stern light is), nor would it show across a focused horizontal band.

Maybe check out some of those solar garden lights people are using. They're not nearly as bright, but they make their own power from the sun, are a zip tie away from an install, and are pretty cheap.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:00   #10
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Here's another vote for using solar garden lights. I put a couple in the rigging port and starboard about six feet or so above the deck. They are dim enough not to be a light pollution problem, but bright enough to be a big help getting off and on the boat at night. Also, the double lights in a horizontal plane make it pretty obvious that they aren't navigation lights, plus they don't have the range. You could put something like that on the stern--one light to port and one to starboard. The problem of being mistaken for a boat underway would only happen while anchored in some remote area and you're the only boat around. Think of it this way, even if someone did mistake your stern light as indicating you are underway it would indicate to them that they are overtaking you and therefore they should give way, so it is hard to see how it could cause any danger.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:20   #11
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Thanks for you opinion. I asked the question and I want to understand the implications. so I don’t like to challenge people that have taken the time to answer, but would not the same be true of a deck light or even a cabin light ?
A deck light points down, not aft, and quite obviously is illuminating the deck, which a stern light would not do . A cabin light would generally have characteristics that indicate that it is not a navigation light.

A stern light is by definition a navigation light.

Hey, read the rules and make your own conclusions. I'm not the one you will have to convince in court if it ever came to that. You will have a hard time convincing anyone that your stern light shouldn't have been mistaken for a stern light.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:22   #12
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

If you want to see how important proper lighting can be, read up on the collision of the USCG boat and the recreational boat that killed an 8 year old in San Diego. There are pages and pages of argument and depositions about whether the recreational boat was showing the proper light.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:29   #13
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Chuck, I love those solar garden lights, and I don't think there is much chance that are bright enough to be mistaken for a stern light. Also, if you are displaying more than one, like 4 or 5 around the railing, there is no way that lighting configuration can be mistaken for other lights in the rules. Put two garden lights at either corner of your transom and you are legal.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:33   #14
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Re: Stern Light at Anchor

Reading the rules that strictly would mean any white light at night would be illegal. That said, I would rig something else up so as not to use navigation lights for the job.

After all, you can see a cigarette lighter a mile or more away on a dark night. And they aren't even white which shows up a lot further.

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When I was going across the GIWW in Louisiana, I would find a wide spot, anchor parallel to the shore and hang a house hold screw in type fluorescent bulb on an extension cord and ran it up my port spreader. Had a few tugs talking about how good it showed up. A couple of parish deputies would see me later and talk about how good it showed up.

And anchor light was lit.
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:44   #15
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We also use two solar lights, one on each side of the steps where people walk on. Also one small one on the bow to let pangas know where we are. We started in the Sea of Cortez After our friends got hit by a panga from a college looking for their boat. The panga hit the anchor chain at a high rate of speed and bent their bow sprit & SS anchor track. They spent a ton of time trying to get proper repair from them We know it was rare but rather be safe than sorry and there are few boats to bother. We also use them at Catalina Island now in Ca for same protection.

I hate the Big bright lights or water lights at night too.
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