Observations on sailing without nav lights

bbg

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Last weekend I did a couple of overnight sails. Despite testing my nav lights at the dock on Friday night (the Nasa Supernova was very bright), it failed to light up on Saturday or Sunday night. Checked the wiring as best I could but still didn't work. Thought that some of the reported failures of Nasa units must have now included me.

So I fitted my emergency nav lights. Three individual filaments, each powered by a D cell. Absolute ****. Hard to fit properly and dim as can be, even with new batteries. Pretty much shot by the morning. And needed new batteries for the next night. So that is my first observation. If you are planning any serious offshore passage, the D Cell filament bulbs are next to useless, but might save your bacon with an insurance company if you have an accident.

On the return passage on Sunday night, I switched on the SeaMe, which I have fitted inside the boat next to the mast. On two occassions fishing boats a couple of miles away lit up their searchlight and swung it around my direction. I am convinced they saw the target on radar but couldn't see my dim, crappy and quite low to the water emergency nav lights. So I swung my own high powered spot back at them, then lit up the sails with it for 10 seconds or so, then back at them. On each occasion they then switched their spotlight off. Second observation - I think the SeaMe probably works pretty well.

Third observation - there is nothing like having the cockpit to yourself on a starry night with eased sheets, going in the right direction at pace and little on the horizon to cause any concern.
 

RichardS

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.

On the return passage on Sunday night, I switched on the SeaMe, which I have fitted inside the boat next to the mast.

I thought the active radar units had to be fixed as high as possible a bit like the passive ones or even a proper radar.

Is it OK to fix them inside the boat and is it signifcant that you have it fixed next to the mast i.e does the mast "conduct" the signal upwards or something?

Many thanks

Richard
 

bbg

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I don't want the weight at the top of my mast for performance reasons. I was going to fit it on the pushpit but it looked rather exposed to backstays and mainsheets and things. After talking to a couple of people, I thought that inside the boat would be OK. It isn't right next to the mast, but about 10 cm away. I do worry a bit about a shadow in one direction but all in all it is better than not having one. I think my experience this weekend shows that it was working, and the lights (which indicate whether it is being painted) were on almost all the time.

The cable is also long enough that I can temporarily fix it in the shrouds if conditions merit.

If I had a cruising boat, I'd probably put it at the top of the mast.
 

Pye_End

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One benefit of having a masthead tricolour + all round white, plus deck level red and green is that even if one bulb fails, you at least have something else to switch on, even if it is just an all round white.

Was there nothing else that could have illuminated you? What do you use for motoring?
 

electrosys

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So I fitted my emergency nav lights. Three individual filaments, each powered by a D cell. Absolute ****.

I have never seen the point of those things, for precisely the reasons you give.

The underlying problem with 'em is that they are usually fitted with a 2.5V bulb, running off a 1.5V D Cell. You can get D-Cell adapters from China for silly money that hold 2 x AA rechargeables. With a bit of jiggery-pokery, you can wire the 2x AA cells in series (within the adapter) - thus supplying the correct voltage to the bulb. That makes 'em much better ... but still not great.
 

bbg

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Was there nothing else that could have illuminated you? What do you use for motoring?
I have a high powered spotlight that lights up the sails pretty well. I also sailed all night with my red headlight on - usually on the sails for whatever that was worth. And the instrument displays can be seen from behind. When you get close.

As for motoring - I sail without a motor most of the time so that isn't an issue.

Turns out the problem was a faulty connector. I unplugged and plugged in the connectors but it was the cable to spade that was the problem. Probably blinked on and off intermittently as I wiggled things around, but of course I didn't see that.

Should be sorted for the Fastnet in two weeks!
 

maxi77

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On the trip down I had trouble with my steaming light which was a slight problem as we were motoring a lot (very light winds) until I found the loose connection in the fitting that was causing bulbs to blow after a few hours. Having high and low level lights was a reasurance but the rest of the lights worked fine.
 
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