Interesting thread on the Scuttlebutt forum

D

Deleted User YDKXO

Guest
I can't be bothered to read the whole thread but has anybody asked whether it was such a bright (ho, ho) idea to anchor overnight in Stokes Bay which is a known fishing area and adjacent to the inshore route into Portsmouth?
 

jfm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
23,751
Location
Jersey/Antibes
Visit site
Thanks for the thread pointer.

Hmmm. Obviously one has sympathy for the guy who got his boat smashed up but fact is, as we surely all know, that a tall masthead anchor light is incredibly easy to miss. Ive missed them and seen the anchored boat later than I'd like, and there was the poor guy who died a couple of years ago when he drove his fast tender into the side of an anchored yacht.

Common snese says you need more lights that just your anchor light. I don't wish to sound smug but I absolutely never ever anchor overnight with just my anchor light. I turn on lots of outside lighting - upwards of 20 lighting fixtures.

Colregs says "A vessel at anchor may, and a vessel of 100 metres and more in length shall, also use the available working or equivalent lights to illuminate her decks" so it doesn't mandate it of course on our recreational boats, but it is perverse to mandate it for >100m only which will in any case have 2 anchor lights. However Colregs does mandate positioning of anchor lights "where it can best be seen" and for the life of me I cannot see why sailing boat manufacturers/owners think that means the top of the mast. If I were defending someone who T boned a sailing yacht with a tall masthead light I would argue this point with a good expectation of success in transferring plenty % of the blame onto the anchored yacht
 

prv

Well-known member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
37,361
Location
Southampton
Visit site
it is perverse to mandate [deck lights at anchor] for >100m only which will in any case have 2 anchor lights.

I always assumed the reason was so that the forward and after lights of a large ship weren't mistaken for two separate vessels, by someone who then decided to go between them :)

I do think that a single anchor light can be sufficient for a normal-sized yacht, but it needs to be the right light in the right place. Mine is rigged about four metres above the foredeck, and as well as the all-round LEDs it has a set on the bottom (it was originally sold as a combined anchor and cockpit light) so the whole deck etc is fairly well illuminated.

Obviously I'm not a fan of lights mounted high in the sky above a darkened hull, potentially lost against the shore or the stars and with no visible connection to anything on the water. I stated on the other thread why I think these persist, but I'm slightly bemused by the OP there actively insisting that masthead lights are a good thing. Most people either simply haven't thought about the issue, or accept that high lights are suboptimal but can't quite be bothered to do anything about it (and if they rarely anchor and then only in well-known places like Newtown Creek, that's probably fair enough).

Pete
 

MapisM

Well-known member
Joined
11 Mar 2002
Messages
20,374
Visit site
If my memory serves me right, during one of the FDCs, we overnighted near Théoule-Sur-Mer, and a big Perini nearby had her two allround whites just a few meters above the deck, with chimney-style red lights on top of her two masts.
They must have thought that any light at 60+m above the sea level has more chances to be seen by aircrafts, rather than other boats.... :rolleyes:
 

jfm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2001
Messages
23,751
Location
Jersey/Antibes
Visit site
@prv, OK on the 100m, maybe that is the reason behind the rule
I'm just baffled by why anyone would even bother to try to force a conclusion that a single teeny weeny light is ok. The boat that smashes you might not have crew paying proper attention, or might just have mixed up the image before them and made some kind of mistake. What's wrong with putting on all the spreader lights, the deck lighting, the u/w lights, the illuminated name, the saloon lights, the boom downlight over the dining table, and all of that? Just light the thing up and be seen! (obviously where there is traffic; not such an issue in newtown creek)
 
Last edited:

longjohnsilver

Well-known member
Joined
30 May 2001
Messages
18,841
Visit site
We were coming back into Dartmouth a short while ago just as it was getting dark. We'd just come round the corner from Brixham and I suddenly noticed a yacht just in front of me, had my radar on but it seemed that I had confused that with a small motor boat that was fishing just a few yard from it. It gave me quite a surprise when I realised there was also a yacht in the entrance. As I was in the wheelhouse (and being quite tall) I didn't/couldn't easily see his masthead light, which was all he had on, although he may have had a stern steaming light, but that was hidden by his dinghy. So masthead lights can be easily overlooked.

And there's many a time I've looked around an anchorage at night and mistaken masthead lights for stars. Why put them at the top of the mast? There are many other sailing boats that have an anchor light a few metres above deck level, that seems much more sensible. There's no point in being visible a mile or so away, but not nearby.
 

prv

Well-known member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
37,361
Location
Southampton
Visit site
I'm just baffled by why anyone would even bother to try to force a conclusion that a single teeny weeny light is ok.

Because it's "an almost new Aqua Signal LED unit, installed when I had the mast down two years ago, and it is extremely clear and bright, and visible for many miles." :)

What's wrong with putting on all the spreader lights, the deck lighting, the u/w lights, the illuminated name, the saloon lights, the boom downlight over the dining table, and all of that? Just light the thing up and be seen!

Traditionally I suppose a sailing boat would have a flat battery within a couple of hours with that lot :). Less of an issue with LEDs nowadays of course.

In some anchorages it does seem a bit antisocial to be lit up to quite the degree you're describing - colour-changing lumishores would rather ruin the ambience of the sun setting behind a flight of ducks over the mudbanks. But that issue inverse-correlates pretty well with the risk of being hit by commercial traffic - I doubt there were any neighbours to disturb in Stokes Bay the other day.

Even though I think my anchor light gently floodlighting the decks is pretty good, maybe next time I'm anchored in the Solent itself I will consider leaving on the car headlights under my spreaders.

Pete
 

prv

Well-known member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
37,361
Location
Southampton
Visit site
It gave me quite a surprise when I realised there was also a yacht in the entrance. As I was in the wheelhouse (and being quite tall) I didn't/couldn't easily see his masthead light, which was all he had on, although he may have had a stern steaming light, but that was hidden by his dinghy.

I can't think of any reason for him to show a stern light along with the light at the masthead, though of course people do show all sorts of illegal combinations.

Either he was anchored, with an all-round white at the masthead, or sailing with the single masthead tricolour of which you were seeing the aft white segment, or if he was under 12m he could have been motoring and legally showing a white all-round at the top of the mast and sidelights lower down (invisible to you behind him).

As this thread shows, though, what's legal and what's sensible don't always coincide.

Here's my home-made lighting controller:

A9677D81-C969-484B-B933-647E94957253_zpsxn3bvqih.jpg


I sometimes select the high-level lights (motor or sail) when out to sea, so that ships can see me from as far away as possible despite waves etc. But I always switch to the low-level ones when closing the coast.

Note the all-round white at the masthead (which was there anyway, and I supposed I might as well have a way to turn on) is specifically not labeled as "anchor" :). The "Foredeck" switch controls a socket just inside the anchor locker that the anchor light plugs into.

Pete
 

Resolution

Well-known member
Joined
16 Feb 2006
Messages
3,472
Visit site
. for the life of me I cannot see why sailing boat manufacturers/owners think that means the top of the mast.

Probably because the IRPCS requirement is for an all round white light, with all round being clearly defined as being visible for 360 degrees. Not 350 or 340 or anything else, but the full 360. As most sailing boats have masts (!) the only place that one can achieve 360 degrees visibility is on the top. The only fully compliant location.
As to whether a mast top light is more liable to be lost against background lights, surely this is no worse than the location of navigation lights on many ships, which will be at heights well above our eye level? I don't hear any requests that ships should carry extra navigation lights down at our level.
Legalities aside, the developments in LED lighting make it a no-brainer that we small craft should have some other lights in addition to the formal anchor light, that would reduce the chances of being collided with by a vessel not looking out properly. Just what extra lights are permissible has been a topic of discussion recently. Personally I favour a small strobe fairly low down, but to avoid possible confusion with navigation buoys I think it has to be blue colour. The plod may disagree! Upward floodlights on the spreaders would be ideal, but so far these seem to be limited to yachts over 20 metres or so. My budget would struggle and SWMBO would not approve!
Peter
 

prv

Well-known member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
37,361
Location
Southampton
Visit site
Probably because the IRPCS requirement is for an all round white light, with all round being clearly defined as being visible for 360 degrees. Not 350 or 340 or anything else, but the full 360. As most sailing boats have masts (!) the only place that one can achieve 360 degrees visibility is on the top. The only fully compliant location.

That's a common misconception but it is, I am afraid, bollocks.

See Annex I, paragraph 9 b (i):

All-round lights shall be so located as not to be obscured by masts, topmasts or structures within angular sectors of more than 6 degrees, except anchor lights prescribed in Rule 30, which need not be placed at an impracticable height above the hull.

If my mast is 20cm wide and my anchor light is 2m ahead of it, which I think are conservative estimates for my boat, then a bit of drunken 2am trigonometry tells me that even if the light were a worst-case point source, the obscured sector is 5.7º and therefore (in your words) "fully compliant" as an all-round light for any purpose, not even needing the special dispensation granted to anchor lights in order to ensure they end up at a sensible height.

Add the fact that it isn't actually a point source, it has a non-trivial diameter with LEDs all round it, and the actual obscured sector gets even smaller.

Then remember that the light, hanging as it does in the middle of a 13m rope that also holds a wind-catching ball, moves around. As does the boat on its anchor warp. And as does any observer who might be able to hit me. So even in the theoretical 6º sector, the light isn't actually invisible in practice, which is why the rules allow it. Don't forget that an anchor light isn't the only kind of "all round" light - how in your world would a dredger mount his red-white-red? Magnetic levitation?

Pete
 

Resolution

Well-known member
Joined
16 Feb 2006
Messages
3,472
Visit site
Wow! Put back in my box, and at 2 am! One is never too old to learn something new. Thanks for putting me right, Pete.
 

benjenbav

Well-known member
Joined
12 Aug 2004
Messages
15,030
Visit site
Would it be possible to mount a light (which would be visible through 360 degrees) in the configuration of a collar around the mast sufficiently below the gooseneck to clear the boom?
 

Resolution

Well-known member
Joined
16 Feb 2006
Messages
3,472
Visit site
Would it be possible to mount a light (which would be visible through 360 degrees) in the configuration of a collar around the mast sufficiently below the gooseneck to clear the boom?

I did wonder about an LED collar (my dog wears one at night in the garden!!) but a) that part of a mast generally has a number of moving, working parts and an electrical fitting would be vulnerable; and b) on my boat below the gooseneck would be obscured by the bimini and/or sprayhood. So I think we are back to having to suspend something in the fore-triangle each time we anchor.
 
Top