Anyone ever lost the Tri-colour from the mast head? - Lucky escape

jonrarit

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18 Oct 2010
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Ok here's the scene. Last Saturday beating down the clyde estuary, 2 reefs in the main, furled headsail into 25-28kts. No problem at all and in fact a good sail. Spent the night at anchor in the Kyles. Returning home Sunday morning, bottom of the East Kyle 15-18kts of breeze.

Sails up all is good then first tack of the day, just as we went through the wind and almighty BANG so loud I though we'd lost part of the rigging. Turns out the tri-colour and anchor light had come adrift but instead of just going over the side as you'd expect. instead hit the cockpit floor, right in between myself on one winch and my crewmate on the other winch and just in front of the guy on the helm.

The force of the impact shattered the lens which quite literally exploded so much so that the chap on the other winch had a two inch bleeding "shrapnel" scratch on his back ...... through his clothing!!

The light in question is a 2 year old Aqua Signal series with tri colour and integral anchor light. The base unit is still at the top of the mast. I can only assume that the locking ring "failed" somehow but the mast went through a multiple tacks the previous day without incident so you'd of thought if it was going to fail it would have done so then and not in the lighter breeze of the following day.

I have never heard of this in my 40 odd years of sailing but perhaps it has happened to others...yes/no? Were we just unlucky or on the other hand very lucky? It was spine chilling to think of how close that was to a major injury or worse.

I'll replace the unit and either tape up the locking rings or come up with some kind of safety tether but I'd be interest to hear of any similar incidents.

JR

PhotoView attachment 53151 attached
 

prv

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Nearest I've had was the shackle of one of the peak halyard blocks coming undone - the pin hit me on the head, the shackle went straight down the companionway. The pin was light enough not to hurt, though it was certainly a surprise; the shackle would probably have hurt but not injured as such. The geometry of the blocks was such that the gaff remained fairly happy in the raised position, but the lead went all wrong while lowering it and we wouldn't have been able to re-hoist. Fortunately it was the last sail of the season anyway and the mast was coming down for varnishing.

I used to wire all the shackles aloft when re-rigging each spring, but must have missed that one on that occasion.

Pete
 

VicS

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I'll replace the unit and either tape up the locking rings or come up with some kind of safety tether but I'd be interest to hear of any similar incidents.

JR

Compared with my original non quck-fit version these modern ones are rubbish. A darned sight less easy to fit, change bulbs in etc and obviously less secure.

I am pretty sure I have taped mine on!
 
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TonyMS

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16 May 2001
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Winter St Ives, Cambs; summer Ionian
Our tricolour/anchor light shed its top half during a windward thrash off Tarifa - probably due to UV degradation of the plastic. I converted it to a tricolour only by putting an LED tricolour bulb in the remaining bottom half, and fabricating a new lid from PC. Lasted another 5 years.
 

flaming

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Steaming light landed in my lap (on the helm) going through a tack a few years back. Gave it to the owner, who seemed a little surprised to be handed his steaming light mid race! He remounted it only for it to do the same thing a couple of weeks later (only this time without surviving.)

Problem was solved when the new number 3 was ordered without a batten at exactly steaming light height...
 

TQA

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Lost mine due to a direct hit on the masthead by lightning.

Converted my masthead tri/anchor light and VHF aerial into small blobs of molten metal.
 

Blue Drifter

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Not Tri but - found an M8 bolt on the foredeck one day, had a good look aloft and couldn't see anything amiss so chucked it in the spares box. A couple of weeks later, whilst sailing into some hefty chop off Troon the radar reflector came down bounced on the side deck and over the side. A combination of the chop and lack of anywhere to grab it with the boat hook resulted in it disappearing astern.
 

Robin

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We turned our tri on one night to notice it was not working, thought the bulb had blown butwhen I mentioned it to friends cruising with us, they said 'what tricolour light? We later discovered we still had the base, the all round white bit and it's bulb but all else had gone, I assumed it was a seagull doing a 9/11 reconstruction demo. The Top half had vanished, perhaps the glue had failed from UV exposure.
 

lw395

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Remember years ago, somebody let off the backstay on a Sonata rather violently, the masthead light was launched over the bow.
Pete dived for it, bribed some skinny person to go up the mast and replace it.
 

charles_reed

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Yes - the lens on the Aquasignal tricolour came off my 2nd boat in 1988, whilst awaiting a rising tide @ Christchurch Bar.
It floated sufficiently long enough for me to swim and recover it and re-glue it onto the base.

My current masthead tri-colour and riding light has been on for 22 years - though I probably have about 20 night passages a season, it still hasn't required a bulb change.
 

AngusMcDoon

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That seems a bit overkilly, unless there is a consistent issue with them

They are not going to know if there is a consistent issue with them unless they are informed. A photo and a few lines in an email is all that it will take, 5 minutes max. Single incident - they will file and forget, but if they see a pattern emerging they will get the product withdrawn from sale.
 

savageseadog

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19 Jun 2005
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Never underestimate the degree of vibration at the top of a mast. Never mount lights with anything other than Nyloc nuts or Loctite or it will drop off like mine did. (It was saved by the cable and strain relief clamp.) Regarding the Aquasignal locking rings, I recently managed to drop mine while refitting the light, they do seem to work OK and stay locked as long as properly fitted and fully turned.
 
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JumbleDuck

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They are not going to know if there is a consistent issue with them unless they are informed. A photo and a few lines in an email is all that it will take, 5 minutes max. Single incident - they will file and forget, but if they see a pattern emerging they will get the product withdrawn from sale.

That seems very unlikely indeed.
 

Baggy

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suffolk
Last year when my mast was down and re- fitting the tri/anchor light

As I remember, I noted bayonet fitting seemed slightly loose
after seeing the price of a new unit

I put in a couple of self tappers
worked fine.... so far
 

AngusMcDoon

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That seems very unlikely indeed.

One off - unlikely as I said; pattern emerging - very likely. Safety of products is one of the most important tasks TS do. There is a EU wide system that TS and other countries' equivalent bodies use called RAPEX...

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/index_en.htm

Do a search on their database using the term 'marine'. You might not be aware that these systems are in place to keep dangerous products off the market, but that does not mean that they are not there. For the system to work though, TS have to be informed.
 
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JumbleDuck

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One off - unlikely as I said; pattern emerging - very likely. Safety of products is one of the most important tasks TS do. There is a EU wide system that TS and other countries' equivalent bodies use called RAPEX...

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/index_en.htm

Do a search on their database using the term 'marine'. You might not be aware that these systems are in place to keep dangerous products off the market, but that does not mean that they are not there. For the system to work though, TS have to be informed.

Many thanks. I was imagining individual TS offices with card indices.
 

johnalison

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Many years ago we sailed to France for our last cruise in a Mystere before selling. It started with the bilge filling up with seawater, coming from a leaking cockpit drain. A succession of problems followed until the tufnol gear in the boom's roller gear stripped and I had to wind the sail round the gooseneck in the Swin, and as the final insult, we hit a wave in the Blackwater and the masthead light followed an arc into the water ten metres away. I've never really trusted them since.
 

Robin

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In our case reported earlier the light broke at the masthead, rather than simply fell off. I should add that my normal paranoia had the light's plug in or clamp ring attachment held firm using self amalgamating tape when it was installed on the mast., same thing with the wind instruments masthead transducer.
 

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