Navigation Lights

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Navigation Lights

Postby Buster » Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:25 pm

I'm interested in adding running lights to my DS1 for some night sailing. The bow lights are pretty straight forward. I'll probably use side-mount port and starboard. The stern light may be a challenge. To stay out of the way of the traveler, and the tiller arc, where do other users mount their stern light?
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Re: Navigation Lights

Postby GreenLake » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:48 pm

I opted for a removable solution that is easily rigged, even if underway:
It uses a commercial, battery powered set of dual navigation lights together with a base and a bungee cord. In the latest incarnation of this, the two "fingers" on the base are cut from a strip of aluminum and slip around the stem fitting (into the gap between deck and forestay). The other pieces, including the thicker part supporting the fingers are made plywood and dimensioned so the light rests on the rubrail. Everything's glued together and liberally coated with epoxy, then varnished for UV protection.

Not shown in the picture on the right is a stainless steel bolt that's epoxied in the middle of the base and onto which the light is screwed using the mounting threads that are part of the design of the nav light. The bungee goes around the forestay and hooks into the notch to secure the light.

If I'm heading out after dark (or late enough in the day that I'll expect to need lights) I rig this setup at the dock, but if I'm simply returning later than planned, I can also go forward and mount it while on the water (the DS is plenty stable enough for that).

The same brand sells an all-around white light, also battery operated. You can get it with a stand that inserts into a deck fitting. If you mount that in a corner at the stern, angled a bit aft, you should be fine while motoring. The boom is shorter than the deck, so anything mounted in the corner should be out of the way (and the raised light is needed only when motoring).

An off-center mount is permitted whenever there are reasons why a centerline mount is not practical. With the rudder / tiller occupying the center of the deck, I think that exception would qualify here.

Under sail, you need a stern light that's visible for the correct sector (135 degrees). I believe you can get one from the same brand, and would mount it on deck, pointing aft. (Simply, pointing the all-around light aft would give you the wrong sector, unless you make some kind of cap to block the other 225 degrees).

Alternatively, if you always go out with a 12V battery, you could get a set of fixed LED navigation lights and install them at the front and rear, just below the rubrail. You'll need two switches, because the stern light needs to be off when motoring. Again, you'd need a light on a pole for that; they make those for small motor boats (the socket is wired to supply the electricity). Ideally, you'd get LED lights (to save on battery) but with or without that solution is going to be pricey.

Some of the removable LED lights are really fancy with different light patterns and a magnetic base that you can mount on your boat and just clip the lights to. You'd need two, one dual red/green for the front and one for the stern that can be selected to do 135 or 360 degrees. (Technically you need to raise the 360 on a pole).

Whatever you do, you probably don't want to mount anything on your masthead.There are provisions in the regulations that allow for a "tricolor" masthead light, but quite apart from the difficulty of getting power to that location, the problem with those is that other vessels may very likely misestimate your position, because it's hard at night to account for the elevation of your light.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Navigation Lights

Postby TJDSII6630 » Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:32 pm

A lot will depend on where you are as to how strict the regs will be enforced, and if the local tharties understand them.

Here is a good illustration of how the lights should be.

Note there is a difference in motoring and motor sailing. R/W rules change. ... ight-Rules.

Stern light needs to be on at all times if you choose to have the R/G bow lights.

If motoring or motor sailing you will not be able to use only a hand held light as I read the regs.

I have both fixed R/G Bow lights and portable backups. I will use a portable stern light and tape off the forward portion with black electrical tape.
If I'M motor sailing I'll hoist the same LED Lantern I use as an anchor light.

I think you could tape a forward facing battery LED light on the mast for motor sailing if needed.

You could fish a wire to the stern to run a stern light from a small 12V battery.

One on each side will cover what is blocked by the rudder. ... gLYwfD_BwE

I will also have handy a hand held flash light to shine on them if they get too close...or throw if they get really close!

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Re: Navigation Lights

Postby GreenLake » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:55 pm

Thanks for the links to the various guides, and great discussion.

I generally turn to the official Navigation Rules (PDF), because while I'm there, I can refresh my memory on many of the other rules as well.

Looking at one of the guides, the key sentences that apply to boats the size of a DS appear to be the following:
Powerboats and sailboats under power that are less than 20m (65.7') can substitute a single bi-color light for sidelights.

That covers the choice of bi-color or side mounted r/g lights. I would probably prefer side mounted ones for a permanent installation to be able to mount them below the rub rail in front where they are out of harms way and not blocked by sails. For intermittent use, bi-color seem so much more convenient. (In either case, I would not mount them on the widest point of the boat - see Rule 23 (d) (iii) below).

Powerboats that are less than 12m (39.4') may substitute a single all-round light for separate stern and masthead lights.

That single light needs to be raised 3ft (1m) as described in Annex i of the Navigation rules, which is possible on a DS, but requires some thought in placement. Note that hanging an all-round light from the end of the boom would work for positioning. If you keep your boat moored, you might mount a forward light above the jib and turn it on when motoring. Not really practical when trailer sailing.

Sailboats less than 7m (23') shall, if practicable, exhibit lights as explained above....

As long as you are under sail, curiously enough, there's no requirement for specific lights whatsoever; except whatever you rig should really look like what's required for bigger boats: side lights and a 135° stern light. Taping off the forward segment of an all-round light is workable, and because the rules for small sailing vessels in effect say "do the best you can", I think you should be fine using something that's not actually CG certified. (Lots of lights on the market are sold for crafts < 23' only and none of them are certified).

...An acceptable substitute is to keep ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern (flashlight) that shows a white light that shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

This includes a strong light to light up the sails. That can be very effective, and I'd recommend having that available in any case to make very clear that you are sailing and also better than blinding someone at night by trying to point a light at them. Local law enforcement here will accept that, if you use it in a timely manner on a small boat.

From Rule 23 (d) (iii) the masthead light or all-round white light on a power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may be displaced from the fore and aft centerline of the vessel if centerline fitting is not practicable, provided that the sidelights are combined in one lantern which shall be carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel or located as nearly as practicable in the same fore and aft line as the masthead light or the all-round white light.

I'm not sure about using two stern lights. Under power, you can mount the all-around light on a pole in the corner if you want; when under sail, you are to follow rule 23 as far as "practicable". That, to me, implies that you could also mount your stern light off-center enough so that its 135° segment clears the rudder. That way you avoid lighting the rudder which would be confusing at night. Otherwise you'd need two lights with half the sector mounted close on either side of the rudder so they look like one light from any distance directly behind.
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