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Old 07-25-2015, 01:06 AM   #1
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Being visible at night

How do you make your boat more visible at night while moving? ColRegs recommend showing lights beyond running lights. How it's done on cruise ships:




Note that tug is even more lit-up, relatively, while the USCG cutter has minimal lighting.


Running lights alone hardly makes one visible.
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Old 07-25-2015, 02:30 AM   #2
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Mark-when we run at night we of course have the required running lights, but the salon lights are generally on, the pilothouse has some lights although late at night we may be on red in the PH. We may have the outside lights on the rear deck on. But we don't really do anything special to be "seen." I don't think the cruise ships are lit up because they are worried about being seen, those are just the normal lights for the passengers' convenience and normal ship operations. The vast majority of boats I see on the water at night only have running and some interior lights on, nothing special.
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Old 07-25-2015, 02:48 AM   #3
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The one-time sailing at night was fifty years ago on my father's sloop under sail in San Pablo Bay. We were only showing running lights, and a tugboat shown it's spotlight to confirm our identity.


Here showing lights at berth: running lights, string lights (behind valances) in pilothouse and saloon, spreader lights, and spotlight. (Flotsam isn't uncommon here.) Surely enough to being seen, but not sure night vision isn't seriously compromised.


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Old 07-25-2015, 03:13 AM   #4
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Here's what I sometimes do at anchor if I want to be seen. The deck lights would ruin my night vision underway however.

Richard
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Old 07-25-2015, 06:02 AM   #5
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In open water the trade off is between being more visible and being able to see in the dark. We opt for protecting our night vision. Boat is switched to red lights throughout. Outside we have the required navigation lights and a couple of solar lights on the upper deck which shine to the side and stern but not forward.
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Old 07-25-2015, 06:49 AM   #6
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When ocean sailing I prefer to use a powerful mast head anchor (all white) as it is visible for 5+ miles rather than "legal" running lights 2 miles..

The Esso Maru tales a good while to turn .

A white light means a stern light -avoid,, anchored vessel -avoid .

For the 25K cargo boat the 6-7K cruiser is for all purposes stationary.

Below under sail, you can hear them from before they come over the horizon.

Inshore the usual rules can be helped by using a 25W bulb in the 10W "legal" running light.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
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In open water the trade off is between being more visible and being able to see in the dark. We opt for protecting our night vision. ... Outside we have the required navigation lights....
In addition, we drive defensively. Stay out of the shipping lanes as much as possible and away from commercial fishing operations. If we see someone coming in our direction, we track them and change our course to avoid them if necessary.

At anchor, we're careful where we anchor, away from travel paths and we have a very bright anchor light.

On the open ocean we've had issues with possibly being run down during the day. The crew is usually working, everyone thinks since it's day light, they can see us and are scanning the horizon. More than once we've hailed a 500' plus ship only to hear, "where are you"?, when we're less than 1/2 mile away. This is a good argument for a full on AIS.
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Old 07-25-2015, 09:37 AM   #8
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The only time the COLREGS recommends lighting yourself up is when at anchor. A cruise ship and a tug working isn't a good example to use. When running, any extra lights you can on can't be confused with proper running lights. Merchant vessels run with running lights only.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:06 AM   #9
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Big difference between open, dark ocean and in a populated area where you are back lit by so many lights picking out nav lights is almost a full time job for the whole crew.

Use good judgement as Rule 2 suggests.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:23 AM   #10
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It generally isn't a consideration here in Maine. Few people run at night because of the large risk of fouling your prop(s) with lobster gear. Those that do run at night use powerful spot lights trained forward to pick out the lobster gear.

When I have run at night down south (Massachusetts), I found the large number of lights some boats showed very confusing since you had difficulty picking out the actual running lights. I remember overtaking a tug pushing a barge while approaching the Cape Cod Canal. The tug was showing so many lights that the running lights indications it was a pusher were completely obscured. Some of our crew thought it was a building on shore until we were only a hundred yards from it. Naturally our radar was non-functional.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:39 AM   #11
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:32 AM   #12
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I have a LED deck light mounted on my radar mast. It aims aft and downward, and I can reach it to change angle. Offshore at night I often leave it on, especially if towing the dink. With it aimed more aft, very little light in cockpit so it does not screw up night vision that much.

Next thing I want to get is an LED white running light to replace my POS incandescent.
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:39 AM   #13
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AIS is not fool proof. Too many times I've encountered tugs and other commercial vessels running without AIS during day light hours. I doubt any difference at night. The few times we've been out at night, spotting other traffic from their running lights seemed adequate. However, if I'm traveling in a busy, populated area, I would turn on deck lights to stand out against shore side lights.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:35 PM   #14
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We've only run the trawler a couple times at night. Used the sailboat at night fairly frequently. Really didn't use lights other than running lights for two reasons already mentioned- don't want to kill our night vision and don't want to confuse other boats as to what we are. Only had one "incident" with a freighter we spotted on ais and radar and radioed to find out their intentions and make sure they saw us.
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Old 07-25-2015, 12:47 PM   #15
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Several years ago I was hit by a BUI boater at night. After the accident I gave a lot of thought to what I might have done to prevent it. As a result I now carry a 1-million candlepower spot light on the helm. I also turn on every light on the boat that does not interfere with my night vision on the helm.






Yes, that boat was totaled.


Here's what my boat looks like now when we're out at night, except for the green lights on the fly bridge that were up there for the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. I try to make the boat as bright a possible without interfering with my night vision.


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Old 07-25-2015, 01:04 PM   #16
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There was a very similar thread a few years back regarding almost the same thing I was criticized for running high pressure sodium deck lights much like the fish boat to do when running off shore at night.
For the most part I do agree with a number of opinions here that say Coast Guard lighting is adequate at night as long as you're off shore and not with a lot of background lighting.. it works great.. but the hps lights I ran on volunteer allowed me to see a lot of crap in the water that may of fouled my paravanes..and I know it also made us much more visable from the orange glow we cast.

I also always display correct running lights so as to be "legal"

Anything that allows you to see or be seen better is a good thing.

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Old 07-25-2015, 01:45 PM   #17
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The best way to be seen? Replacing usual, factory cheap o incandescent fixtures with new LED lights. Both red and green side lights, as well as masthead and stern lights. And if you have LEDs inspect the lenses for haze or condensation.

I see many boats (old and new) with crappy lights, faded, hazy lenses, and bulb fixtures adrift (out of focus) within the light itself. Walk down any dock some day and peruse the lenses themselves.
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Old 07-25-2015, 04:24 PM   #18
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In addition to defensive techniques (mostly radar, FLIR, proper nav lights, Class A AIS and presenting a good radar return), I often run 4 500-watt flood lights on my cockpit and boat deck. Given the configuration of my boat, those lights don't interfere with night vision but do give an additional measure of protection against guys in small boats running (much faster than me) to the same fishing grounds as I am. Those guys often don't have radar and just follow the light in front of them (and regular nav lights don't provide much depth perception). With the back of my boat lit up, unless they are sleeping, they know it when they are getting close.
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Old 07-25-2015, 04:51 PM   #19
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How can I say this politely??

If you really care about being seen at night by those ships likely to be out at night and large enough to do damage, have AIS transceiver.

IF you don't start there, all the rest is mental masturbation :-)
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Old 07-25-2015, 05:49 PM   #20
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How can I say this politely??

If you really care about being seen at night by those ships likely to be out at night and large enough to do damage, have AIS transceiver.

IF you don't start there, all the rest is mental masturbation :-)

I guarantee that GFC in post 15 would not have been helped by AIS.
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