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Author Topic:   Navigation Lights: White All-Around Light
Roswell posted 03-27-2007 11:34 AM ET (US)   Profile for Roswell   Send Email to Roswell  
[The author apparently plans to install a white all-around light on the cowling of the outboard motor on the stern of his vessel--jimh]

I'm only concerned with removing the engine cover and having the wires on some type of quick-release mechanism. I would like to avoid installing one of those pole mounted lights because of waterskiing lines, and don't want a quick release type. Mounting it on the transom is a possibility, but I don't think the light will be high enough from the surface of the water on my 15' (regulations)

The light is a Lopolight all-around LED, and it is going on an Evinrude E-TEC 75 HP.

any thoughts?
thanks, Roz

Buckda posted 03-27-2007 02:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
If you're concerned about regulations, then mounting it on the powerhead won't help you. The white light is supposed to be visible 360 degrees when operating the boat or at anchor. Oncoming boats will not be able to see this light because your body will block it.

At that level, your night vision will also be ruined if you glance aft to check for oncoming traffic or whatever in the course of operating the boat.

I'd recommend the standard pole-mounted light that came with the boat. When skiing - this pole should be removed and stowed aboard.

I would also invest in a Perko plastic glare guard on the pole just below the lamp to shield you and your occupants from backscatter when underway at night.


David Pendleton posted 03-27-2007 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
You bought a LOPOLIGHT for a 15'?
jimh posted 03-27-2007 07:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The required lights are clearly described in the COLREGS. Please consult the regulations. You will find that a white all-around light as you have described will not be in compliance with the required vertical separation distance from the sidelights.

I have read of the installation of the sort of lighting you are describing, but I do not think it is in compliance with the regulations.

Installation of a light on an outboard motor cowling should not be too difficult, but, were it my cowling, I would never take a drill to it for that purpose. Why ruin a good cowling to install an illegal light? There really are not electrical problems here, just problems with compliance with the required display of navigation lighting. See the rules for guidance.

Roswell posted 03-27-2007 10:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
David P,

Yes, I bought two, Item numbers 200-003 and 200-012. The only importer of LOPOLIGHTs in the US is about 30 minutes from where I live, in Newport, Rhode Island. Apparently the lights are so good that they are using them on submarines. They gave me a decent price for the lights (its all relative, but i paid over $500 for both). The idea is that once I wire the lights, they will not need any attention for many trouble free years, and they draw very little battery power. Plus they are great looking, but just a little bigger than I expected.

Buckda Dave,

I've had bad luck with those poorly made lights on a pole. The idea is this will be completely out of the way, and require no setting up or taking down to perform tasks.
As for visibility, I have a red/green on the bow, and the 360 degree white on the stern, which yes may not be visible for some if my head were blocking, but it would be the same unless I had one of those ridiculous looking 5 footers with a very small bulb inside. These lights are rated for boats up to about 65' feet, and are visible from 2 nautical miles. Other boats WILL see me.. even if its a 45mph blurr. That is the only thing I'm not worried about. Although, being blinded by the light will most likely occur, you got me there.


I will look into the COLREGS, and maybe those describe more in depth what you said... But what do you mean by 'required vertical separation from the sidelights'?

I assume that the white all around stern light must be higher than the red/green affixed to the bow, but how much higher? How would one measure this?

Also, I have no trouble installing a light of this quality onto the cowling of a motor, it would not surprise me if the light actually outlives the engine... LEDs last thousands of hours in any environment, whether its moisture, or vibrations, nothing will stop them...

I'll let you know how it turns out. Thank you all,

contender posted 03-27-2007 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Roswell: This is just how I have rigged my rear white light. I drilled three small holes and nuted the light in place. Place the wires in the center hole. The light had a rubber gasket and until this day does not leak (17 years). The problem is, I got a two wire connector (pull apart (like a trailer connection) rubber coated) and when you pull off the cowling off the engine you have to balance the cowling while pluging/unpluging the wire. Its like you almost need two people (need three hands). Other wise it has always worked. If I go out at night I always carry another flash light to warn any boats in the area (just making sure they see me)...good luck
Chuck Tribolet posted 03-27-2007 11:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
I can't find anything in the COLREGS about vertical separation.
I'm pretty sure though that I've seen something in the CFR
about it, but it's late and I don't need to get my blood
pressure up dealing with the lousy rotten CRF search engines
(if they'd just give me a PDF of each major section, I'd
be happy).


K Albus posted 03-28-2007 11:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
An all-around light on a vessel less than 12 meters must be at least one meter higher than the side lights. See 33 C.F.R. 84.03(d).
Roswell posted 03-28-2007 12:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
K Albus,

Thanks for that link. It looks like 1(one) meter is the minimum. I don't think the top of my engine is much more than a foot higher than my red/green sidelight. Looks like if I go through with it I could potentially get a violation. I know my harbor master, and for the last 5 years my white stern light only faced backwards, and was mounted on top of my transom, with no problems. This will be much closer to 'legal' placement. Regardless it will be mounted higher than anything else on the boat and will be visible from 360 degrees when my engine is trimmed down. I don't foresee any problems, as most of the boats around here are wood skiffs driven by locals who have very little concern with the law (my father being one) and at best carry a flashlight.


If you have any pictures of your light would you mind emailing them to me? I would like to see how you routed the wires inside of the engine cowling specifically. Or second best, describe the wire placement? I don't want them to become tangled in any moving parts. How can I mount them to the cowling without screws? The wires are both housed inside of a coating that would allow me to glue them to the cowling with some type of adhesive. Lastly, your rubber coated connector sounds like the ticket to pull it all together, literally. I'll look for one of those. Thank you,


contender posted 03-28-2007 09:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
I will have to get back to you on this, not a problem, I am leaving tomorrow for ten days get it to you when I return. It is clean and is out of the way, it is always there, and always works.
Tom W Clark posted 03-29-2007 07:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The one meter rule is applicable to boats made after 1982. Boats built before that were required to have the stern all-around white light merely above the bow lights. What year is the boat in question?
Buckda posted 03-29-2007 08:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I was just thinking "what we need here is a loophole". Guess who provided that?! Way to go Tom!

I still insist that the 360 degree light is NOT visible for 360 degrees if you or any passenger is aboard the boat.

Do I think you'll get a ticket? No, I do not.

Honestly, this coming from a guy with 30 extra ponies on the back of his's more about the liability should there be an accident than it is about the potential to be cited during everyday circumstances. This is a risk calculation that only you can make.

Heaven forbid that something bad happens, but if it does, you could be found at least partially at fault and be responsible for some of the ramifications of whatever happened.

Just throwing it out there.

Good luck!


Roswell posted 03-29-2007 12:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     

Your information does apply to me, as my 15' is a 1976. Thank you for the good news. After my complete overhaul it may be difficult to convince someone this boat is over 30 years old, though.

Dave, I do sit rather low in the 15' as I have the regular sport seat configuration(slightly modified to lift everything one inch), so i'm not sure how much higher I will be relative to the light, we'll see in a couple weeks. I'm still convinced this will not be an issue, a boat directly in front of me will be able to see both red and green, making it clear that my heading is directly toward them. I hope that I will be able to see them.


David Pendleton posted 03-29-2007 01:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Honestly, this coming from a guy with 30 extra ponies on the back of his boat...

That's it. I'm not boating with you anymore...

eviltwin posted 03-29-2007 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for eviltwin  Send Email to eviltwin     
You could use a small all around light, the kind that uses two bulbs mounted on a pole off the windshield on if there is one or off a console and then use a transom light on the stern (or in this case the back of the motor). The light in the front would be a 225 degree and would just need to be above the running lights. The transom/stern light would be 135 degrees and could be relatively low. That would cover you on regs. Not saying that it wouldnt degrade your vision somewhat with a white light up in front, but thats what my larger walkaround uses.

A better solution would be a pole mounted light in the back that is easily removeable for water sports. I wouldnt think you would be doing any of that at night, would you?

where2 posted 03-29-2007 09:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
I just use the pole mounted light on my 1985 15_Sport and throw all my watersports friends off the other corner of the boat to get into the water... They get out of the water using the ladder I have permanently mounted opposite the rear light. I find the ladder is more in the way of running 2 ski ropes than the light is in the way of throwing skis and ropes. I Always use the tow hook on the side of the boat with the pole mounted light, even with 2 ropes out...
jimh posted 03-29-2007 10:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't think you have a loophole in the rules as far as the year the boat was built because you are modifying the boat. If you operated the boat with the navigation lighting it came with when it was built, you might be able to claim an exemption that the boat was grandfathered by the date of construction prior to 1982. However, when you modify the boat in 2007, you move the date of construction to 2007, and you don't get to pretend that you now hold an exemption from the navigation rules.

I can't believe the cost of these LED lamps. They are nice looking lamps, but at $150 per lamp, it is going to cost a bundle to equip a small boat with them.

Generally a small boat like a Boston Whaler SPORT 15 is not operated a great deal of the time after dark. I'd just go with the usual combined sidelights at the bow and have an all-around white light on a pole for the stern that can be rigged when needed.

If you are a big-time fisherman and want to keep the stern clear for fishing, then put a stern light on the transom and mount a masthead light on a pole from the helm console.

Tom W Clark posted 03-30-2007 12:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

I think you are wrong. While I understand your reasoning, indeed there is some logic to it, I do not believe there is any obligation to update an older boat to new standards. Indeed, I have never heard of such a case.

There are far more federal regulations regarding automobiles than boats, yet old automobiles are routinely modified but certainly are not required to be upgraded to the latest standards. Every seen a Ford Pinto with air bags?

jimh posted 03-30-2007 08:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Tom--I really don't know the answer. The one-meter vertical separation is often not complied with. There was a very high-profile incident in which a U.S. Coast Guard boat ran into another boat down in Miami. The USCG boat was out of compliance with regulations on navigation lighting--less than one meter separation and light was obstructed by other equipment.
Roswell posted 03-30-2007 12:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
Somehow my instincts tell me Tom may be right. Airbags? My 1953 MG TD convertible doesn't have seat belts. Either way I don't believe many boats follow this rule as Jim noted, notice the profile of a typical boat has a large rise in the bow, it would be difficult to make a rear light one meter above that. Unless it were mounted on the windscreen frame. My 15' sport does not have that, or even the side rails.

Jim - I've heard boats have been defined as holes in the water for money(or something). Although expensive, this little boat will have very little if any electrical problems with the nav lights. My source told me that these lights are being installed on submarines, where they would spend hours hundreds of feet below the waters surface. I even went so far to buy a completely sealed push/pull switch that prevents water intrusion. Is there a cost to peace of mind?

Where2, I am trying to avoid the pole mounted light, I don't think they are good looking, I'm weary of breaking it off, they never last more than a couple seasons (harsh conditions in Massachusetts). Just out of curiosity: your friends need a ladder to get into a 15'? If you can water ski you'd better be in good enough physical condition to climb over 1' of freeboard. I do not have space for a ladder in my boat, plus with a fresh paint job i wouldn't want to scuff the boat.

Evil twin, I appreciate your suggestions, but I'm trying to keep the complexities of my lighting and wires to a minimum, my boat is significantly smaller than your 18, and my console would not allow me to mount a light onto it. More parts equates to more problems, once the weather warms up I plan on spending what little time I do have remaining on the water, without fumbling with lights.

Mardav posted 04-01-2007 08:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mardav  Send Email to Mardav     
Hey Roswell
Not to highjack your thread but...I thought you might be interested in knowing I am just finishing restoring a 1952 (titled as a '53) MGTD MKII. As you probably know this is a pretty rare model (yes it has the original engine and gearbox and was built as a MKII on the line). I am planning on taking it to the next NEMGTD GOF.


Roswell posted 04-02-2007 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
That sounds exciting. it has never been restored and is also completely original, less the paint, and I plan to have the engine rebuilt in the near future... Among other things... Once I find someone with even some experience with the car.. any ideas in southern New England?

I love the car, learned how to drive a manual in my yard when I was only twelve in it.

where2 posted 04-02-2007 11:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
My friends, my wife, and my 72 year old father all use the boarding ladder when they are done skiing. It came on the boat when I bought it from it's original owner in 1996. I saw no need to remove it as it is permanently mounted and requires no storage space.

I cannot comprehend harsh conditions: I live in South Florida, and boat 99.8% on salt water with a 12 month boating season? Haven't busted the light in the 10 years. But to each their own. Good luck with the Lopolight mounting, and let us know how it works.

jimh posted 04-03-2007 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Boarding ladders and old English Sports Cars--hey this is the ELECTRICAL discussion.
Roswell posted 04-03-2007 08:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
Somehow it all relates.

Where2, frequently my waterskiing trips involve pulling four people at once behind the boat on regular boogie-boards. As you can imagine its pretty crowded... not to mention another 3 people in the boat. It gets pretty wild at times as battles ensue more often than not. Having a brittle aluminum pole would probably be more dangerous, I could easily see someone getting impaled, or at least cut if the pole were to break off. I'll be satisfied with a little light on top of the engine.. very out of the way.

Your ladder is mounted? I'm curious how that works.. Is it off the transom? I've never seen a boat that small with a ladder? If someone very heavy or just two people try to get on the side of my boat at one time the gunnel is almost submerged..

Jimh, at least we're not getting into the electrical systems / electronics of English cars...


Royboy posted 04-11-2007 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Royboy  Send Email to Royboy     
I find it odd that this discussion has mostly missed the spirit and intent of the boating regulations as they relate to navigational lighting. The idea behind the regulations are not to make a little game to loophole your way around. They are in place to keep boats from hitting other boats.

Now, if somebody is dead set on going after that Buck Rogers look, or something, and has decided that this is more important than the safety of his vessel and those of others, then he is taking a risk and also putting others at risk to do so.

To have a white all-around light with enough vertical separation from the red/green nav lights, many boats use a pole mounted light. These are not built to be terribly sturdy, because they don't have to be. They have but one purpose: to support a small, visible for two miles, white light. Virtually all of the models available are easily removable for daytime stowage. A meter is the minimum; a light tall enough so that it truly can be seen a full 360 degrees is the actual idea.

Water-skiing (or other similar watersport) is definitely not a consideration here because these lights are stowed when not in use, i.e. during the daylight hours of operation. Water-skiing is illegal at night in most (likely all) States, and for good reason: it is dangerously reckless.

Having the same light as a submarine or a 65 foot yacht is not an acceptable reason to stray from the rules that are designed to protect us all from collisions.


Roswell posted 04-11-2007 06:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
I find it odd also. Contender are you back yet? I'm still curious HOW to install the wiring for the light on my boat. Thats the only information I was really looking for.

Thank you Roy, but a pole mounted bulb style light won't do.

Buckda posted 04-11-2007 06:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Roz -

I suspect that you can simply run the wiring down the cowling and out the front with the fuel hose and battery cables. It should fit. The only thing I'd do is include a loop so you can disconnect it to remove the cowling.

I'd use zip ties and glue zip tie holders to the cowling from the center to the front and down. I would not run the wires along the powerhead (heat and risk of catching moving parts).

I'd inspect the glue bond each year before commissioning to make sure the wires would continue to be secure.

Good luck, and I hope Contender gets photos to you so you can complete your project and get on the water.

One final thing though - consider slowing down a bit at matter how bright your lights are, 45 MPH with other traffic present is TOO FAST at night.



Roswell posted 04-20-2007 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
I finished my light installation today. I wired it separately from the [combined sidelights carried at the bow]. While seated the beam of light is close to the top of my head.

Obviously I wouldn't travel at fast speeds while at night. I hope when I said that people understood my intended sarcasm.


jimh posted 04-21-2007 01:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
How fast one travels under periods of reduced visibility is not particularly an electrical discussion and should be left to THE GAM or elsewhere to debate.
contender posted 04-23-2007 10:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Roswell, sorry I did not get back to you sooner about the light on the engine cowling. First the light I have is white 180 degrees toward the water, the other half I have a chrome shield (toward the front of the boat). The light had three small screw holes around the base (I used three #8 stainless bolts with stainless aircraft nuts) the light came with a rubber gasket which I put a light coat of silcon on. After seeing were I wanted to mount the light I had to drill another small hole (center through the cowling) to run the wires through. I made the wires about 20 inches long which I was able to secure/hide on the inside of the cowling (Behind the foam). At the end of the wires I place a two prong rubber wire connector so that I could unplug the light at will and to be able to remove the cowling. I ran one wire from the switch (positive power) to the connection and grounded the other to a nut on the engine block. Place the other half of the rubber wire connector on the two ends. done. Have never had a problem with the light it has always worked and it is out of the way. I know there are different rules of the road for lights in different states But I have never had any problems with the placement of the light from the marine patrol or coast guard here in south florida...good luck
Roswell posted 04-23-2007 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
Here's a few pictures of my boat thats finished, and a couple have the light ontop of the engine.
I'm not sure how to make the link work..

Contender, Thanks for your input, it was actually easier than I had anticipated, there weren't many moving parts right under the cowling so the wires are out of the way, and somewhat easy attach and disconnect, we'll see once im on the water though, hopefully my new engine won't need much work!


contender posted 04-23-2007 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
site did not work, but I understand, good for you
Roswell posted 04-23-2007 09:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
let me know if these work... I'm new to the shared picture thing.

Can anyone tell me how to post these as a link?
Thanks, Roz

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-23-2007 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Here's how to do hyperlinks:


Roswell posted 04-23-2007 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Roswell  Send Email to Roswell     
Please excuse me as a give this a shot::

I hope this works. Thanks Chuck.

mitch13 posted 04-23-2007 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for mitch13  Send Email to mitch13     
Looks Great! I like it...just can't afford it.
contender posted 04-24-2007 08:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Nice job, looks good and its the way to go, no more poles no more loose wires you are done...good luck

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