First night cruise

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Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
680
Location
USA
Vessel Name
Speedy Charlotte
Vessel Make
Beneteau Swift Trawler 44
Hit the Bay for our first night cruise. Gorgeous out there but boy do you need to pay much closer attention to the environment! Especially the big cargo ship that was coming out of the estuary as we were coming in. Didn't spot it until it was right in front of us. Guess the tug boat that preceded it should have been a clue. Anyways, we never got close enough to warrant warning honks or anything, but still it was a surprise how it was suddenly upon us.

Also weird not to see the water in front of the boat well enough to spot an obstruction such as a log or whatever. Do people typically use more powerful spotlights than the one we have, or do you simply hope you don't hit anything that's in the water. Obviously, I kept a close eye on the radar and the surroundings, but it's doubtful I would have spotted anything half submerged as I would be able to do during the day.

Anyways, here are some pics!
Image1511420003.500461.jpgIMG_0142.JPGIMG_0064.JPGIMG_0118.JPG
 
Hi, Enjoyed the photo's, we took more or less the same on our visit to San Francisco this week.
Obviously we've no boat here as were just passing through.
On night passages we pilot from the fly bridge and don't use search/spot lights except in an emergency as they destroy the night vision.
Having seen the lights of San Francisco it's easy to see how you could miss a ships lights with all the background lighting unless you had your eyes peeled.
Like many things practice makes perfect.
Happy Thanksgiving.
 
Hi, Enjoyed the photo's, we took more or less the same on our visit to San Francisco this week.
Obviously we've no boat here as were just passing through.
On night passages we pilot from the fly bridge and don't use search/spot lights except in an emergency as they destroy the night vision.
Having seen the lights of San Francisco it's easy to see how you could miss a ships lights with all the background lighting unless you had your eyes peeled.
Like many things practice makes perfect.
Happy Thanksgiving.



Yeah, exactly. Lots of competing lights, and the issue is that it was easy to assume the cargo ship was still tied up with all the other ones. Wasn't until we got closer that we realized it was under way. I did notice it via AIS but I should have done so sooner.
 
MichaelB1969,

Great post and great pix! Night running is fun and can be very peaceful and generally not a lot of boats out. However, you're right, one needs to pay attention.

I do a lot of night boating, mostly local stuff to a restaurant, hangout, friends place, etc. Rarely an issue. I pay a bit more attention if it's a weekend night as half of the boaters out then are drunker than I am <g>....

Did one last night, moon shining so that it was easy to see. Dead calm. Motored home at a slow 5 kts. and didn't want the ambiance to end. Even docked from the flybridge. And easy to see crab traps.

Occasionally I'll run in area where I haven't been but requires a bit more planning and a "for sure" place to dock up at the end without hassle. And radar is nice or avoiding stuff.
 
Day light travels for us. Too many hazards at night.
 
On night passages we pilot from the fly bridge and don't use search/spot lights except in an emergency as they destroy the night vision.



And they also prevent other boat to see your running lights and determine your direction.

L
 
I get into enough trouble during the day! Have done two overnight cruises but they were out in big water.
 
Growing up sailing on Puget Sound with fickle winds, currents, and even more fickle outboard auxillary motors, I have spend a LOT of time on the water at night. I don’t like to use spotlights as they mess up your night vision. With Kinship, we have run a bit at night it is just a matter of keeping a sharp lookout.
 
Nice pics, Michael.

I also love an evening cruise. We did that a couple nights ago to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. The weather gods co-operated with light winds, a flat sea and 32C (about 85F). We were escorted by dolphins heading up the coast, we anchored for a swim, then a seafood dinner for two on the boat, (prawns, Tommy Ruffs and an avocado salad), champagne while watching the sunset over the water, then cruised back to the marina in the dark.

Being a weeknight, we were the only boat in the water after sunset. No bright lights, No crab pots, or other hazards. I know the local water well so I find it very relaxing at night. I piloted most of the way back to the marina from a beanbag chair on the bow without any instruments other than my autopilot remote.
 
Nice pics, Michael.

I also love an evening cruise. We did that a couple nights ago to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. The weather gods co-operated with light winds, a flat sea and 32C (about 85F). We were escorted by dolphins heading up the coast, we anchored for a swim, then a seafood dinner for two on the boat, (prawns, Tommy Ruffs and an avocado salad), champagne while watching the sunset over the water, then cruised back to the marina in the dark.

Being a weeknight, we were the only boat in the water after sunset. No bright lights, No crab pots, or other hazards. I know the local water well so I find it very relaxing at night. I piloted most of the way back to the marina from a beanbag chair on the bow without any instruments other than my autopilot remote.



Sounds like a great day (and night)! Happy Anniversary!
 
Good comments about night boating.

There's goods and bads with both night and day boating.

The downside of day boating is on a nice weekend afternoon is that is crowded with everyone. But if one is careful, it works. Just gets scary when 15 boats are negotiating going under the bridge at the same time.

Weekend nights can be tricky, because often that's when the people who have been drinking all day long are going home, I tend to avoid weekend nights for the most part, but when seeing an oncoming boat I assume he's drunk and maneuver accordingly.

Logs, flotsam and jetsam is not much of an issue unless a big storm just came through. (depending on area).

During the week is great both day and night.
 
Two words, "Night Vision." If you're going to do nighttime boating, it will make it so much more pleasant. Once was very expensive but today quite reasonable.
 
Good comments about night boating.

There's goods and bads with both night and day boating.
Minor disagreement on your comment about bads with night and day boating.

Any time we're on the boat it's good. Some times are "gooder" than others, and some are "less gooders", but they're all good.

I love night boating. It's quiet, there's usually nobody else out there, the view from the fly bridge is terrific and a good time is had by all. We do keep a very close eye on the radar and I have a hand held 1 million cp rechargeable spotlight that I can use to light up an approaching boat if they don't veer as we get within about 1/2 mile of each other. I'm usually the first one to veer off, but it's nice to see a similar course change from the other boat. Just let's me know he's awake, not too drunk, and he's aware that I'm out there too.
 
Day light travels for us. Too many hazards at night.

Actually less... cause you cant see most. :)

With training and experience, plus all the new gadgets....not sure hazards is the correct term.

It is more difficult, but mitigate the difficulties/hazards and it shouldnt be crossed off the list for most, just those that want to....which is understandable.

The assistance towing job forced me out at all hours...most times by the time I got home, I was happy to experience the change of pace.
 
After a night time trip down the ICW between Haul Over and down to my slip.... if it weren't for a younger set of eyes, I think I would have missed many unlighted nav aids. The light pollution from the adjacent 'establishments' did have a way of messing with the night vision.
I installed a fixed Flir IR camera facing aft and a Flir IR swiveling camera on the pilot house..... never miss an unlighted nav aid, any more. Yup, they are expensive but cheaper than repairing the boat or buying a new boat.
 
I seldom operate my boat in the dark. The exceptions are if I need to leave before sunrise or if we don't make it to our destination before sunset. Both of these are pretty rare.

I may be the exception, but my policy is to not go any faster than the speed where I can stop within the distance I can see and react. No spotlights or "headlights".
 
Recreational boating is about fun.

Commercial vessels ply the same wayers as us 24 hrs a day.

Sure their vessels may be larger and stronger, but ultimately, in all the hours of night operation as a commercial captain I have, I have hit little or nothing.

While boating should be relaxing, fear of the dark shouldn't be oppresive either.

Take your time and don't exceed your abilities and enjoy the night if you wsh.
 
I seldom ".

Well, I don't know your definition of seldom as we try to never enter a marina or inlet after dark (except for Fort Everglades and Lake Worth). However, we do cruise at night and occasionally find ourselves leaving before daylight. If seldom is once every 5 years, then I'd not spend on night vision. If it's 4 times a year, I probably would. It's a very good extra tool. You can even just go for a hand held.
 
Even if you don't like it, its a good idea to do it once in a while. You don't want to be in a situation where the conditions have slowed you down, and you are forced to run faster than you are comfortable, or you have to beat up your passengers, because you have to reach your destination by sundown. I'm not condoning recklessness, but an occaisional run in bigger seas, fog, or the dark will give you more options when things don't go as planned.
 
Even if you don't like it, its a good idea to do it once in a while. You don't want to be in a situation where the conditions have slowed you down, and you are forced to run faster than you are comfortable, or you have to beat up your passengers, because you have to reach your destination by sundown. I'm not condoning recklessness, but an occaisional run in bigger seas, fog, or the dark will give you more options when things don't go as planned.

You don't every have to reach your destination by sundown. There is always an alternative and you have to determine which is best for you. Now I do agree to occasionally learning how to handle other than ideal conditions.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.

I am surprised the spot light manufactures dont provide a red lens add on or even a switch selectable red/white bulb.
 
I grew up on the water...being out at night wasn't a big thing at all. Along the Jersey shore, the ICW, the Gulf of Mexico...no problem.

Until I moved out to the Pacific Northwest.

I'll never forget the first nighttime run across Bellingham Bay during fishing season. I think that's when my hair started to go gray.

Crab pots? Meh...try GILL NETS! :eek:

Forget night vision. There's a good reason that fishing boats turn the world to daylight with all those big sodium vapor lights.
 
We love evening cruises around the Harbor, well except for boat parades.


A night vision camera is not a bad idea. I got a handheld Flir a couple years ago after a close call leaving Avalon Harbor at 4 am. There was a small boat in the middle, just outside the entrance. A very small craft, no lights, and barely registering on the radar. I still have no idea what, or who it was, but a quick look on the Flir would have resolved it.
 
Spotlights vs. Searchlights

Most recreational boats seem to come with spotlights, often very inadequate for much of anything on the water. Perhaps useful to see the shore or one item, but of little use for navigating. My first exposure was years ago with acquaintances, going down the TN Tom at night after long delays at locks. We were in a Sea Ray Sundancer. There was a tow with barges in front of us that the owner wanted to pass. Properly he asked for permission and side preference and the tow captain then used his huge searchlight to highlight the entire way around and then a good distance out in front of us. My immediate reaction was "Why doesn't this boat have one of those." Second reaction was "How much is the light and how much the height of it?"

On the lake we never made a change but when we got to the coast and purchased a boat, all those thoughts resurfaced and we went to a 1000 watt Xenon. Now though state of the art is even more. You take a nice Xenon, add an LED and add a Thermal Camera to it. Then if you want you can also add a strobe feature as a non-lethal deterrent. LED doesn't have the distance of Xenon but has a broad field of light. Obviously the more you add, the higher the price, but if you do intend to do much night traveling then size and type of light does matter. For fun looking, keeping in mind there are many lower priced alternatives,

Carlisle & Finch Co. | Top Quality Searchlights Company for Marine, Prison, Border and Security

I do feel like many builders though are selling million dollar boats with dime store spotlights.
 
if you do intend to do much night traveling then size and type of light does matter.

Perhaps our uses are different (underway at night I am always offshore and don't need to pass barges in a narrow channel), but I can't imagine benefiting from a 1M candle power searchlight. But if I did need better illumination, I would prefer my FLIR. I would be interested to understand the circumstances under which a light like that is useful, and what it does to your night vision afterward?
 
I ran at speed through the NJ intracoastal using the spotlight to pick out channel markers, no wake buoys, crab pots, marina entrances or see a dock clearly from a distance...... lots of reasons during the assistance towing job.

I was always careful to point it up and away at the first sign of approaching boats.

As far as night vision, in crowded inland waters with all kinds of bright lights along the way, true night vision is never really achieved anyway.

It was the only way I felt comfortable running at speed compared to all other methods.

At trawler speeds, sure most smaller spotlights are fine for picking out objects.

Flir might work great, not sure about night vision with the random lighting encountered in my scenario...but plenty of areas of near total darkness would probably benefit from them.
 
Perhaps our uses are different (underway at night I am always offshore and don't need to pass barges in a narrow channel), but I can't imagine benefiting from a 1M candle power searchlight. But if I did need better illumination, I would prefer my FLIR. I would be interested to understand the circumstances under which a light like that is useful, and what it does to your night vision afterward?

Most of our night travel is offshore too. As to use for a 1M candle power searchlight, perhaps limited, but the tiny spotlights that come with many boats are totally useless. You don't have to use it at full power. We've probably not used any searchlights more than 10 or 12 times in the past five years. 1m is as part of our security system on the boat we cruise off shore and outside the US on. A couple of times offshore and trying to identify other boats plus make them aware of our presence and that we saw them, a couple of early morning trip starts. Most helpful on some of the inland rivers, seeing far ahead and around bends. Beyond that we've only gone up to 500 candle power and often 350. The Navy and Coast Guard tend to use 350 and 500 except on vessels over 175'.
 
As far as night vision, in crowded inland waters with all kinds of bright lights along the way, true night vision is never really achieved anyway.

Flir might work great, not sure about night vision with the random lighting encountered in my scenario...but plenty of areas of near total darkness would probably benefit from them.

I had a hand held singular lens IR. What I found out, use it and try to see thought that eye after remove the hand held IR, it was like one burned out your eye. It took a while to get back to the night. The Flirs I have feed into a video screen, change the color to red and there is no vision problem when looking into the night when looking away from the IR display.
 
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