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The Dinghy Nav Light Solution- a brilliantly dumb idea

by Scott from s/v Rubicon on 28 Jun 2014
Navigation light rules. West Marine
Nav lights on cruising boats and larger powerboats are relatively easy to organise. Not so for tenders... A brilliant solution to an old problem goes horribly wrong ..read on..

Scott from www,scottsweaters.com in Key West Florida contributed this piece for www.saltysailors.com and has kindly allowed us to share it with you.

'The Florida Marine Patrol bagged me the other night. It was like a simple traffic stop, but on the water.

About 9:30 p.m. I was making my nightly six-minute dinghy trek across the harbor back to my boat. I had dutifully stuck my little red/green split flashlight up on the front of my rubber inflatable. However, to the Marine Patrol approaching from the rear it appeared I was running without any lights at all. Technically, in addition to the red/green light shining forward, I should have had a white light visible from the rear; either that or a single 3600 light on the boat's highest point. I knew of this regulation, but didn't believe anyone would be that nit-picky.

Acknowledging my forward lights showed at least an attempt to comply, they sent me on my way with a warning.

The following night I repeated my daily trek armed with a bright white suction mount 3600 flashlight. This new light is so bright it ruins my night vision. Holding it high above my head I ventured legally across the harbor.

After only two minutes my arm was getting a bit tired and I figured there's got to be a better way, for I'm not about ready to do this every night. I tried sticking it to the dinghy, but being lower than the motor and my torso, the required 3600 coverage was blocked from several angles. It was then a brilliant idea - an idea 100 times more brilliant than my new light - struck.

There is, I said to myself, an advantage to being bald. It was dark enough, and I'm far enough from land that no one could see how stupid I looked as I wet the inside of the light's suction cup and squished it down upon my skinhead.

It was perfect. I now had both hands free, the light was well above everything on the boat, and my night vision was unaffected, as I couldn't even tell the light was on.

Recalling the nightly parade of tired arms holding lights aloft as dinghies dash across the harbor, I wondered why no one else had thought of this grand idea. Granted, it probably does look rather stupid, and other boaters might tend to steer away, but it worked exceptionally well. That is until I spied a much faster boat departing the dock behind me.

I tried speeding up, but quickly realized this boat was easily going to overtake mine. Reaching to my head, I grabbed a hold of the flashlight in hopes of removing it until the other boat passed. I tugged, but the light didn't budge. I tried prying it off at an angle; it didn't budge. I tried raising one edge of the rubber lip; it didn't budge. I tried sliding the entire suction cup across my scalp and down over the edge of my head; it didn't budge. With the other boat quickly approaching my embarrassment zone, I altered course.

As the faster boat zipped by in the distance, I steered back toward my floating home. Nearing the stern of my boat the whole back end suddenly illuminated. I spun around expecting to see the bright lights of a Marine Patrol boat with three officers grabbing the rails in desperation of falling overboard from uncontrollable fits of laughter. Yet when I looked back no one was there. Spinning back around, the stern of my boat was still lit up brighter than I'd ever seen it at night.

Again I looked behind me; again no one there. I suddenly realized I not only looked stupid but acted the part as well, for the bright light was coming from atop my head where absent any nearby objects I couldn't even tell it was on.

Still I couldn't break the light's suction firmly grasping my scalp. Fishing a dime from my pocket - a brief period of intellect suggesting the pocket knife my fingers first found would be a poor choice - I gently pried up an edge to the rubber cup. Near midnight, in a calm harbor, the loud Champagne-bottle-like pop probably aroused several slumbering alcoholic sailors.

The top of my head felt like a can of ravioli, for the suction cup had drawn up my scalp in circular ridges that held their shape. Undaunted and in the certain knowledge that these skin ripples would dissipate within an hour or so, I headed to the shower. The raised circles atop my head were already beginning to soften when I bent over to soap up my legs.

On the way down I caught a glimpse of something strange in the mirror. Directly in the middle of my head was the world's largest, world's most perfect, most crimson hickey.



Email from reader:

Sender: Jennifer Escher

Message: Scott should use the NaviSafe LED Navi Lite dinghy, inflatable, kayak, small boat & emergency LED Navigation lighting, the only USCG approved LED portable light.

Navi light is available either as a TriColor (red, green, white) light or 360° all white light.
The Navi light TriColor 2NM can be used as TriColor Masthead, BiColor, Port, Starboard or Stern navigation light ? the modes are easily selected using the simple push button on top.

The ultra bright Navi light 360° 2NM has 5 modes including all-round light and emergency flash. It is designed to continue to shine for 15 hours on all-round light and 4 days on emergency blink.

Scott could put the magnet under his cap & use the 360 White light placed on top of his cap - his arm wont get tired!
Check out the NaviSafe website http://www.navisafe.net/en/index.html for the full range of Maritime, Rescue & Sport LED lighting with the wide range of attachment systems.

Available in the USA from AB Marine - contact; www.AB-Marine.com

An inflatable Dinghy pack is available to equip most inflatable boats up to 12m with navigation lights in compliance with COLREG 72 (International Regulations for Preventing collisions at Sea).

Hood Sailsupffront 660x82Harken AUS Reflex 660x82

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