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Please use Navigation Lights that are visible!

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I just thought I'd post a little about what I saw on Friday night, while headed up to the Mahurangi Regatta. 


As it got dark, most vessels turned on their nav lights. Quite a few were good, which is great.


However, it was a bit disappointing to see the number of vessels out there with either no visible lights at all, very poor brightness, or simply wrong.


Some stb lights so faded that they look white, even from pretty close, some with only white masthead lights while underway, a couple with tri-colors (which IMO are best for sailing) but once motoring a steaming light UNDER the tricolor. Also one or two with both Masthead tricolor and lower nave lights all on - but at least you could see them!


There was one Classic with bright bow lights, but her stern light was barely visible from 50 meters. Sails were more cream/tan than white, and with the new moon, despite being a clear night, she was almost invisible from astern. I was using radar (remember the basic nav rule, never rely on one info source - in this case visual - the nav lights), and, if I had not been, I'm not at all sure I would have seen her. 


This really is a safety issue. I don't care what lights you have, but they must work, be the right colors, and be seen from a min of 1nm ( the regulation states 2nm!!). It seems to me to be a pretty odd area to skimp on - basic lights are pretty cheap!


What do the rest of you think??

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I would say!

We overtook a large ketch on our way to Kawau friday night, and her lights were so wrong it was scarey.

From directly astern i could see a whitelight, green light and red light (I.e her bow lights went all the way aft that i could see them from astern) - so i thought she was motoring towards me at first.


Then as i got closer i worked out she was going away from us, and as i got beam on i could still see the port nav light and the stern light - which isnt meant to cover that far forward!


Made it pretty dangerous to work out what way the boat was facing etc.

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Totally agree IT.


While standing on the finish boat during last years SSANZ series we noted more than there should be boats with the following or a combo of -


No lights at all

Lights so weak we could only see them within 50mts, one or 2 less

There was a few we could clearly see both a forward light and the stern light at the same time.. and not just for the odd second as the past us. Some we could see were wrong by 20 to 30 degrees.

Could see both port and stb when 20 degrees odd off to one side = WTF???

Some hidden by sails


It was a little surprising so many just weren't up to scratch.

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While I was watching that (the classic with the firefly for a stern light) I was thinking if I'd been in a fast launch, it would have been REALLY easy to run into her, if not using radar (or even an old radar that doesn't really see wooden boats, even close).....


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i'm concerned about launches running into me during the bloody daytime!


Why do so many pass so close to other boats, and 20+ knots. And then wave at me. Do they not look behind after they damn near side swipe me and see me bobbing around crazily in their tsunami like wakes?

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I fish out of a kayak in the Harbour up here a fair bit including at night. I've got one of those triple aa powered Navisafe LED lights on a pole. I'm pretty hard to miss.


It's scary though how many boats are floating around in the main channel with no lighting at all, I mean completely invisible. Usually powerboats, up to 20ft or so. It's terrifying hearing a power boat cranking along in pitch darkness with no lights on, at full noise, and knowing that there are fishing boats stationary in the main channel in complete darkness.


It cost me $90 for the light and no wiring or anything required. I just don't get why someone would be out there in a tinny fishing without at least that. They cost bugger all and even a set of led navs is cheap these days, a tiny bit of time to install and you get to keep safe.


It's like those people who drown in 12ft dinghys fishing without a lifejacket, just no respect for where they are.

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I had a quick look Kevin, Personally I have a LED Tricolor/Anchor/Strobe at the masthead, and the full set of lowers as well, + the "emercency nav lights" as required by Cat 1. I reckon the "emergency nav lights" are pretty crap though, and only last about 8 hours on a battery. A quick look online shows there are a lot of options, like;






And many others. That's the battery powered ones. Preferably something LED AND connected to the boats power though! 

These look interesting, but will be prone to bad installation!


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yep we were heading to mahurangi Friday night,but at 11.30 pulled the pin and went to rakino,guilty,my masthead went out when turned on so did next best thing put on bright spreader light,masthead now fixed

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It would seem there is a common thread here, my personal favourite is yachts at night with their stern light obscured by their dinghy being folded up on transom davits!  I've nearly cleaned out two in that situation, they were virtually invisible to the naked eye from astern and both instances were in very very benign conditions - if it wasn't for radar alerting me to their existence it would have been UGLY!  


Whats more concerning is the fact that the skippers on both yachts couldn't give a rats when their virtual invisibility was pointed out to them.   Perhaps a case of our kiwi 'she'll be right' attitude to most things but its also a ticking time bomb...


I agree with Kevin that the penalties for not displaying the correct lights in a night race should be more severe, DSQ or at least a time penalty.

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I had to do a quick exit from Oneroa in the middle of the night last week. The LED in the masthead had blown (and caught fire) a few days before and I had been using an LED headlight to cover us at anchor which worked just fine until I could get parts however after upping anchor and throwing her into gear I found that the masthead and nav lights were on the same fuse (inside the dash :-( )


So we motored to the Sth side with an LED worklight on the stern and wheelhouse lights on, radar running and after 1am so no ferries.


My point being - I dont know how people can move with no lights, I was sh*ting myself for the whole trip. It was really disconcerting and a hell of a distraction.

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BNG, what was the LED that caught fire?? Was it the light itself, or the + wire shorting - do you know? LED's are very low current, and if the cabling is protected by the correct fuse, I would have thought that this was almost impossible!

I'd be happy to sell you a decent LED masthead light!  :-D

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IT it was a retrofitted LED into an older fitting, the distance from the centre pin and the earth outer case was ever so slightly less than the standard bulb and there was a short across the base of the bulb that arced up a storm (24v lighting) Previous owner had a 20A fuse in the system.....now significantly reduced....


Either way its sorted now but the whole motoring without lights thing gave me the willies.

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