I was out with the admiral the other day enjoying a sunset cruise on the ICW. Going slow on one engine enjoying the sights is a real treat, something I've promised to do more often. However once it got dark my Garmin GPS plotter was so bright that it blinded me to the point I had to throw a towel over it. Dim it you say. Well lots of luck. The admiral had to go down and get the manual on the darn thing for me to figure it out. Garmin probably saved a nickle or two by embedding the dimming switch on page 5 of the menu driven software. I had forgot how to get to the dimming page, but have since noted it on my logbook that I carry at the helm.
Anyway this is not a complaint about Garmin but rather a request on how you folks have illuminated the outdoor living area on your boats, especially the helm. I have floor lighting around the helm and sundeck but really need something for the helm to read and just for getting around when anchored and underway. I was thinking some sort of red and white light for reading and getting around and perhaps some other strategically placed lights elsewhere. Any ideas or pictures??
The Coot has deck lights on the spreader arms (below the radome) which lights the middle of the boat, including the saloon roof.* While it has no outdoor cockpit, the pilothouse is lighted using three overhead lights and "string" lighting from behind valances.
I'm not entirely clear about what you are looking for. Lighting for running at night and how to deal with the need to see yet not blind yourself or are you looking for ideas to light the decks and house for normal living while docked or anchored.
They are quite different although not necessarily exclusive.
*Dash guage lights can be put on a switch to be turned on only when you want to check them or a dimmer to turn the backlighting down to a point that you can just see them yet not be blinding.* You might want to rig some guages that are always on but dim, temp and press and tach..** The non essentials on a switch could be a fuel guage which only need periodic checking, not continuous monitoring.
*Interior lights generally are accepted to be low level red for night lighting in the cabin areas so not to destroy night vision, even red should be dimmable.*There* is some question about this and some folk are suggesting that actually the standard 'white' seriously dimmed is better.* The idea is our eyes react best to white while red can obscure details that may be important.* The white must be dimmable though.
There are fixtures available that have provision for both a red and a white bulb depending on which way you turn the switch.
We never made a habit of night running but did it on occasion.* The dash guage*lights were off unless I wanted to check them.* I know where the electronic equipment dimmers are, although, like you, on a couple pieces it is apparent that the designers are not boaters, certainly not night operators.* No cabin lights are on.* Nowadays I think I would install one or two LEDs, down low and dim,*that would provide a wee bit of light to get around the cabin and to the head safely and one in the head itself.
I've made sure* the nav. lgts do not reflect back so they don't light the decks or blind me.
Thanks guys for your interest. Not really sure what I'm looking for, mainly just looking for ideas. My instrument and nav lights are all good and don't need to be modified. I do limited night running also but would like to be better equiped when I do so, which means better helm lighting when under way. I have no need to improve or change my interior lighting, just the helm which is outside.*
Any sources for lighting would be helpful. All the standard marine stores carry lights, I'm just looking for something creative and cheap. Perhaps mutually exclusive.
How about spot lights. Many folks have the remotely powered directional ones on the bow. I've found them to take some getting used to when navigating the ICW with the many day markers. I prefer a hand held unit even with the attendant glare off the helm enclosure.*
The company my wife works for specializes in deck lighting. The one thing that pops out at me is that they sell a tri-color LED light "fixture". The 3 colors are RED, WHITE, and that ultraviolet BLUE. Obviously, if you need LOTS of light, that is where the WHITE light would be useful. If you want to look cool...blue...and for lighting underway...RED. These "fixtures" go in place of where your normal floor lighting is and also obviously can be mounted anywhere you wish to run wire to.
Great topic, Tim. I've been considering changes in the interior lighting also. An acquaintance recently showed me some 12V dimmable, color selectable rope lighting with a wireless remote in is van. It looked perfect for me needs behind the valance in the salon, but I haven't been able to find a source. I really liked the color and intensity selection via wireless remote control. Any ideas for where to find something like this?
What I have for night running is 4 12V red/white incadescent dome lights. I have considered changing out to LED dome lights like I have in other cabins, but don't want to lose the red light for low light night use. They are also effective at avoiding bugs in the summer evenings.
I also have a usb powered LED gooseneck reading light that I bought for my laptop. I can plug it into a 12V plug USB adapter at the helm and get reading light without the glare. They can be bought here for less than $4.
Baker, can you post a pic or link to the tri-color LEDs?
-- Edited by FlyWright on Thursday 1st of December 2011 11:50:39 AM
On the spot light issue, I have a friend who makes high power LED flashlights with specialized reflectors, lenses and components to provide a very tight, powerful LED light from a handheld MagLight. These lights have very little scatter so only the area you aim it at gets illuminated, not your bow or helm. They would work well from a flybridge or if aimed out a side door, but not feasible for use from behind glass. I am resisting the urge to install a remote controlled spot light, but left the wiring from my old powerwinch in place just in case.
There are many high power LED flashlights on the market today. I recently added a $20 MagLight LED conversion lamp to a 3-cell MagLight with very good results. It uses the stock reflector and lens, but is still a significant improvement.
Thanks for the tri-color link Baker. I have googled the rope light and have had no success in finding one like my friend showed me, but I keep looking.
Flywright, I am familiar with the type of LED flashlight you are talking about....again, my wife is a dealer for one. It is INSANELY bright and tight....basically one step down from a laser!!!...or so it seems. We have a lake behind our house that is about 3/4 of a mile across....and I can shine that light on a house 3/4 of a mile away and see the localized "spot" on the side of the house!!!! It has an integrated rechargeable battery and can be yours for a cool $600!!!!! I don't know if it is worth that kind of money but it is extremely impressive for a flashlight.
*I am resisting the urge to install a remote controlled spot light, but left the wiring from my old powerwinch in place just in case.
Those remotely controlled spot lights do take some getting use to. They really do not move fast enough for me especially when trying to locate a day marker quickly. Trying to maneuver it both in azmuth and elevation to find something is like trying to balance a ball on the end of a bat. I carry a hand held spot light I bought several years ago that are relatively cheap and plugs into a dc outlet on the fly bridge. I can't use it with the eisenglass closed. Even with the plastic eisenglass panels open there is a bit of glare off the surrounding enclosures. But poking the light out at arms length does eliminate most of the glare. I prefer the handheld.
I found several suppliers of rope lights and one supplier that sells a rope light that looks like a neon light. You can't see the individual bulbs. Looks cool but expensive and not really necessary in a indirect lighting application. I'll try and post the link when I get home.
Interestingly, LED's can't be dimmed without an expensive transformer like device.*
For the aft deck, went with two LEDs on the spreaders. My goal was to provide a modicum of light for safety and simple tasks at night - specifically not bright enough to be considered work surface lighting. Picked these up at West on sale for about $35 each. http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...classNum=50583
Maybe it's too much military training, but I find "rigging for red" is a great help in night operations. I'm in the process of painting all of my instrument bulbs with red glass paint and adding a rheostat to both helms to control helm glare.
-- Edited by sbu22 on Friday 9th of December 2011 04:58:37 PM