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Old 10-15-2020, 07:59 PM   #1
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LED Night Navigation Light

I had occasion to enter the marina channel after dark, I used my familiarity with the channel plus chart plotter track and radar to safely traverse the narrow channel into the marina. This has probable happen 4 or 5 times before over 40 years of boating.
I’m thinking of adding a LED light capable of lighting up say 50’ of the area ahead for safer navigation.
Has anyone done this ? I’ve checked out lights but not sure what size and wattage would work. The top of the pilothouse or radar mast would be the easiest for installation.
Night vision is way to pricey.
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Old 10-15-2020, 08:16 PM   #2
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Like these? Just remember that they are not to be used while running, but they are called "docking lights" for a reason. I converted mine to LED.

Take a look at Rigid Industries.

Sorry about the photo. Apple's fault.
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Old 10-15-2020, 08:25 PM   #3
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"Sorry about the photo. Apple's fault."..........Apple Fixed........
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Old 10-15-2020, 09:29 PM   #4
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I don’t like the top of the pilothouse for a bright light. It will light up your forward deck and make it more difficult to see past the bow of the boat. I would rather have it out on the front of the bow pulpit. That way it doesn’t light up the deck and the water doesn’t reflect the light like a white deck does.
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Old 10-15-2020, 09:49 PM   #5
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Have you considered one or two electrically adjustable spot light on the pilot house roof?

I do have a Fair adjustable camera. I guess that is cheating. LOL
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Old 10-15-2020, 11:11 PM   #6
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Hidho neighbor,



Biggest problem imho is back scatter - fog or low vis - dropplets reflect light back into your face. Not a lot of help. Been thinking of trying IR/night vision monocular. - price is coming down - performance ??


https://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-Equi...s%2C421&sr=8-2


Anybody tried it?


Hang out the window with one of these:


https://www.amazon.com/STANLEY-SL10L...2821626&sr=8-5
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Old 10-15-2020, 11:25 PM   #7
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Personally I find halogen to be far brighter than LED's. I have a golight on the bridge, useful for docking but as mentioned, it lights up the foredeck making it impractical for night navigation. I have a 12V plugin Brinkman that I stick out the helm door for finding a buoy or identifying an unknown object. If you don't want more than 50', then LED would be suitable.

Agree with note that light is useless in fog. Maybe pointed straight up as a signal light but it does more harm than good in pea soup.
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Old 10-15-2020, 11:53 PM   #8
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Agreed, halogen seems brighter AND you can make coffee on it - just plays heck with the battery!!.
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Old 10-16-2020, 12:24 AM   #9
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I have an LED handheld spotlight that is brighter than any spotlight I've ever owned. It's perfect for locating buoys, channel markers and shorelines. The previous owner mounted an LED lightbar...same as what you'll see on off-road trucks...to the front of the pilothouse. It absolutely turns night into day and reveals any and all details when entering an unfamiliar anchorage. It's useless in fog or smoke, and lights up the foredeck too much to be of routine use while underway. I mounted two LED lamps on the mast that are more than bright enough and don't cause any glare on the foredeck. They're smaller versions of the enormous lamps that the larger commercial fishing boats seem to always have burning. Those and the handheld spotlight are a nice combination. I hate using the lightbar and will probably sell it; it's too obnoxious for other vessels in the anchorage.

Regarding halogen vs LED: one cannot say that one is brighter than the other. 400 lumens is 400 lumens, and the type of lamp doesn't matter. Now, the color temperature of these lamps can vary a lot, and people may perceive that a particular color is "brighter" than another. What may be reliably said is that LEDs use a fraction of the power, run far cooler, and will last much, much longer. The commercial guys are definitely moving from their traditional sodium vapor lamps to LEDs.
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Old 10-16-2020, 04:58 AM   #10
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I 100% understand the benefit of adding a flood or some other permanent light on the pilothouse or at the bow of your boat to assist you with navigating in a tight or cluttered channel after dark. Me personally, I don't like any bright lights at night ,be it on my own boat, another boat , or just as bad, those that have the need to light up their docks & homes with lighting. My vision isn't that great after dusk and keeping my night vision is a priority. For picking out low-to-the-water obstacles that our radar misses, I try to give just a quick flash of a handheld spotlight to pinpoint the target to keep the offending light to a minimum but that definitely wouldn't work too well in an enclosed pilothouse like yours. If it were me, I guess a a small bar-type LED floodlight mounted as far forward on the boat would be an ok option. It would illuminate the close in targets that you want to avoid while keeping the offending light to a minimum. I would just want to make sure that I switched it off when meeting oncoming traffic, as a matter of courtesy.
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Old 10-16-2020, 06:06 AM   #11
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If the engine is operating the power draw of the bulb should hardly matter.

The brighter the better although the good commercial search lights only get 50 hours out of an expensive bulb.
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Old 10-16-2020, 06:27 AM   #12
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Sabre602, the mast mount vs bow pulpit would be an easier job. Can you provide information on LED lights you used on your mast and photos ? I’ve looked at several lights any suggestions on # of lumens, some are 3” square lights hard to believe something that small would be effective.
SoWhat and boomerang, thanks for the information, I have a handheld corded light that we have used on the bow. As you mentioned it’s not good for night vision and turns into a bug magnet even using it sparingly.
Xbanks, the bow is definitely the best light location. The underside of my bow pulpit would work great but a job wiring it to the pilothouse, maybe wireless if it exists ?
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Old 10-16-2020, 06:35 AM   #13
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I think if the original concept is to light up a 90 to 180 George area out to 50 feet...

Flood versus spot is the solution and seeing well enough to safely dock takes a lot less brightness than to illuminate a marker 1000 yards away or read newsprint at 50 feet.

A couple of those 3 inch square "flood" lights would probably meet your needs...it would mine.
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Old 10-16-2020, 08:52 AM   #14
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Bright lights are all the rage around here with the recreational fishing fleet. The "big boys" in the 60-foot steel fishing boats go around in a huge bubble of light from massive fixtures all around their boats. Now, with the lower cost of LEDs, all the "wanna be's" in small fiberglass boats are doing the same. It's frightening.

Lighting up the decks ahead of you is never a good idea. Also consider other vessels around who you might be blinding.

Some sort of low-level docking light might be OK while docking, if you're not blinding anyone else with them. A hand-held spot that you can briefly illuminate objects ahead can be very helpful if used sparingly. I agree that shore lights pointing out, instead of down, can make docking difficult.

Overall, the absolute best thing you can do at night is protect your night vision by avoiding any unnecessary light.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:04 AM   #15
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Coming up from the Haulover cut between Miami and Hollywood FL, LOTS of lights from shore and then unlighted nav aids and boater who dont know squat..... Now that is a good reason to come in before dark.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:12 AM   #16
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I agree, the entrance channel to Goose Pond Marina is about 50’ wide and has some slight left and right turns. I was the only boat in the channel, once I crossed the no wake sign the docks and fuel dock are lighted by overhead flood lights. My pilothouse overhead lighting fixture has a red light switch as do my engine gages, I set night vision for the gps track back display and my radar display. I have found that the intermittent use of a spot light destroys my night vision even when used intermittently because it lights up the bow as others have mentioned. I’m leaning towards mounting led lights on my radar mount which is above and aft of the pilothouse focused ahead of the bow.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:15 AM   #17
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Our boat was purchased with a receptacle on the bow, which was switched and marked “bow light”. Unfortunately there was no light included with the boat.

After determining available power at the receptacle (length, gauge, etc), I ordered a Rigid Q series spot light at just over 12,000 lumens. It clamps to the rail on the bow, and only gets mounted when needed. There is zero backlighting.

I eventually sent the light back to Rigid, who changed it from a spot to a flood for a very reasonable amount of money. The thing seems to be high quality and looks beautiful - I would not hesitate to permanently mount it. It may get mounted on the mast under my radar at some point, but I concur with the comments about illuminating the decks.

If I could do it all over again, I would probably buy a 120VAC stadium flood light from Amazon, and mount/use it the same way. These have high lumen ratings and are 1/4 of the price.

We are a slow boat. The light is about 8 feet off the water and is effective at illuminating crab pots and kelp beds. It’s also great departing the marina in the dark. I am a stickler for NOT blinding anyone with this light, so it is OFF if there are and boats around, period.
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Old 10-16-2020, 09:34 AM   #18
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In my home harbor, everyone that runs at night routinely uses big flood lights like headlights. There are just too many lobster traps to make operation at night without lights a big risk. The current here can be very strong and the entrance to harbor is incredibly rocky and shallow. Our little marina had three boats hit rocks this year alone. Losing propulsion due to a lobster trap line wrapped on a prop shaft can become quite dangerous quickly. It sucks to have all the bright lights ruining night vision, and it's clearly illegal, but everyone understands why it's necessary and law enforcement here overlooks it. I did a couple of night trips without flood lights and won't do it again...
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Old 10-16-2020, 10:09 AM   #19
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Dont shine your spot in a boater bridge.
In this case, you really should forgive the idiot who shine a spot on your bridge.
I would still attempt to contact them via VHF instructing them on proper protocol of their search light.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:18 AM   #20
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There's a huge difference between beginners using lights and mariners using them.

There's also a difference in using them in situations where night vision won't cut it and in open water where it may or may not for mostly invisible objects due to submersion.
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