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Old 04-10-2013, 11:27   #1
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Torch/Flashlight to Alert Dragging Boats

I have often shone a bright light at boats at night to alert them that they are dragging (during the day I use a foghorn). VHF is worth a try, but often boats turn this off at anchor. Launching the tender and going around is the final step, but this takes time.

I have never been on the receiving end, but I was tonight. Fortunately I was not dragging but had let out around another 20m of chain around dusk because of rising winds. The boat anchored next to me was obviously concerned I was dragging and kindly alerted me.

It was amazing how noticeable a bright light shone from another boat was. I was watching a movie with full interior lights on, but the sign was unmistakable. I got on the VHF and cleared up the confusion.

I have used this on other boats and have suspected it has woken people up. Now having been on the receiving end I can understand why.

Be a good neighbour and alert a boat that may have a problem. A bright torch with a well collimated beam is a good way to do this at night.

Don't worry about a false alarm, I was certainly appreciative of the effort although in reality there was not a problem.
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Old 04-10-2013, 12:04   #2
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Re: Torch/Flashlight to Alert Dragging Boats

Ah, this good advice reminds me of a peaceful moonlight night when Nancie and I were in the cockpit. We noticed one of our anchored neighbors moving. We tried the air horn and then noticed our neighbor on the other side moving, but wait...... they appeared to be moving against the current! That's it,- we were blowing our own danger signal! In my own defense I must claim that this event occurred in 1972 and we are a little more aware of things now! The bright light is a great idea!
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Old 04-10-2013, 18:49   #3
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Re: Torch/Flashlight to Alert Dragging Boats

One minor detail -
Once you have alerted the appropriate vessel, turn off your light! Otherwise you may be blinding them when they are trying to maneuver, haul anchor, etc.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:34   #4
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Re: Torch/Flashlight to Alert Dragging Boats

That is a good point Mike.

I would even go further and suggest that once you have attracted the attention of the dragging boat it is helpful to shine the torch on your own vessel (with reduced brightness)

It will highlight that they are moving backwards. The crew of the dragging boat are likely to be poorly dark adapted, possibly a bit disorientated and without instrumentation set up correctly (or even on). They may be groggy from sleep and inexperienced at night sailing.

Illuminating your boat provides a nice reference point. It is difficult to judge the distance away of of a single point of light like an anchor light and having some of the hull and superstructure illuminated of a boat in known safe position really helps.
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