Originally Posted by MYTraveler
Most of my trips involve night travel, but usually offshore, rarely within a harbor. Offshore, even with no moonlight, I have never found it too dark to see surface obstructions so long as my night vision is not impaired. But to maintain good night vision, it is necessary to protect your eyes from stray light. Using any kind of searchlight / spotlight will impair not only your night vision, but also that of other nearby boaters.
Yes, night vision is the key. Using a spotlight for even a few seconds disrupts your night vision for several minutes and this gets longer as you age. Same for looking at bright instrument lights or GPS screens.
In many parts of the USA, waterways are littered with crab pot floats, often black or dark blue. These are very difficult to see at night and hitting one can leave you stranded with line tangled in your prop.