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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Navigation Light Alternative
|Author||Topic: Navigation Light Alternative|
posted 05-17-2012 08:47 PM ET (US)
On my 1990 Boston Whaler REVENGE 22 Walk-Through Whaler Drive, the original navigation lighting is still intact and in use. As a power-driven vessel the boat must comply with regulations set forth in Rule 23 of the Navigation Rules. As you would expect from Boston Whaler, the OEM lamps on the boat produce the required lights, as follows:
--a combined sidelight lamp at the bow on centerline
The white all-round lamp at the stern is a nuisance. The combined sidelight lamps are mounted on the bow to the bow railing, and they are carried rather high above the boat deck level. As a result of this high mounting of the sidelight lamp, the white all-round light lamp has to be elevated more than eight feet above the cockpit deck to be carried one-meter higher. This is accomplished with a very long pole. The pole is awkward to stow when not in use.
I have been considering an alternative arrangement for navigation lighting. The goal of this alternative is to eliminate the very tall pole for the white all-round light lamp. I propose to use more conventional lamps, as follows:
--a masthead light
I will now describe in some detail how I would configure the several lamps in this plan, and I invite readers to review my plan so that they might be able to comment on it to render an opinion on:
--whether it complies with RULE 23
Now for the details, which I give below.
The vertical baseline for the lighting plan is set by the location of the sidelights. The masthead light must be carried at least one-meter higher. I propose to mount the separate sidelights on the cabin superstructure in a fore-and-aft position about where the Revenge windshield begins and at a vertical height of a few inches above the level of the rub rail. I believe that the cabin sides at this point are very close to being parallel to the hull centerline, so there would be no need to shim the base of the sidelight lamps to align them for the proper horizontal projection of their light. Wiring will not be a problem, as the electrical conductors can be installed in the cabin and run under the headliner carpet in some manner or fashion.
The sternlight will be mounted on centerline and carried at a vertical height just tall enough to clear the cowling of the outboard engine. This will require adding a light pole to the aft deck with some sort of plug and socket design. I believe Boston Whaler has already used this on a number of their boats.
The sidelights lamps and the sternlight lamp I am proposing are not particularly unusual, and I do not anticipate that anyone would find much out of compliance with RULE 23 or unworkable about their installation.
The final light to be shown is the masthead light. I propose to mount this lamp in the location of the existing sidelight lamp, that is, on the center line and at the bow. To get the necessary one-meter vertical separate, it will probably be necessary to elevate the lamp above the bow railing by perhaps a foot. To accomplish this I will use a small clamp-on mast. Atop the mast will be a masthead light lamp of compact design. I have not chosen a particular lamp for this function yet, but I expect there is such a lamp, especially a lamp using LEDs for the light source.
Since the Boston Whaler 22-foot boat is less than 50-meters in length, only one masthead light is necessary. I do not see any provision in the rules that requires that the single masthead light must be carried aft of the sidelights. From what I find, the masthead light is defined as follows:
The definition (quoted above) does not seem to require any restriction on the fore-and-aft position of the masthead light relative to the sidelights.
Have I overlooked some obscure feature of the rule? Does my proposed arrangement satisfy the requirements of RULE 23? Please let me have your informed opinion. Thanks.
posted 05-17-2012 09:05 PM ET (US)
Excuse me for responding immediately to my own article. I just noticed this definition:
I do not see where the sternlight is required to be on vessel centerline. This freedom allows me to keep my existing off-center pole to carry the sternlight. I could use all the existing hardware of the pole as-is on my boat, and cut down the height from over eight feet to about four-feet. This would make the pole much easier to handle.
posted 05-17-2012 09:44 PM ET (US)
I also have found in the technical annex of the rules the following regarding the horizontal placement of the navigation lamps:
I have added italics to the portion of the rule that seems to apply to my boat, namely:
--if only one masthead light is to be carried
posted 05-17-2012 10:00 PM ET (US)
The rules appear to support your plan. However, your proposed configuration would be so unusual that you would be inviting extra attention from law enforcement. You may have to carry a copy of the rules with you and be prepared to explain your compliance with them.
posted 05-18-2012 09:07 AM ET (US)
Many thanks to Kevin for his opinion, which is highly regarded. Since Kevin's profession is the law, his opinion of the rules is likely to have precision of interpretation. Also, I think Kevin's speculation about confusion among some on-the-water enforcement personnel is also likely to occur.
I found a suitable rail mounting fitting for mounting a pole to the bow rail in the PERKO line of navigation lamps and accessories:
For mounting atop the 3/4-inch pole there are many lamps available. Here is one choice:
I do foresee a problem in this installation. The present lamp in this location is a combined sidelight lamp, and I expect to find that there are only two conductors running to it. If I want to use the new masthead light lamp as my anchor light, I will need a third conductor running to it so I can illuminate the other lamp on a separate circuit.
posted 05-18-2012 09:19 AM ET (US)
The anchor light is where you might have a problem. Anchor lights are supposed to be mounted where they can best be seen. See subparts (a) and (b) of Rule 30: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/index.php?pageName=navRulesContent#rule30%20& %2031
I don't believe an anchor light mounted to your bow rail in the position you have described would meet the requirements of the rule.
posted 05-18-2012 09:36 AM ET (US)
I read the rule as follows:
An anchor light at the bow rail is "in the fore part" of the boat. In my plan this lamp will be the tallest lamp on the boat, so it must be the one "can be best seen" by virtue of its height. I could also make my sternlight lamp on the pole be a dual bulb lamp, and it could show as a second white all-round light at anchor.
Thanks for the comments, and, again, the careful analysis contained in them.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-18-2012 09:41 AM ET (US)
I concur. The masthead light may go on the bow rail, ahead of the side lights, but the anchor light may not unless it is elevated to well above the highest point of your Mills Flying Top. Since you propose to use a combination masthead/anchor light, the bow rail position will not work.
As a practical matter, I was discourage you from using the bow rail location for the masthead light at any rate. I believe it would offer adverse glare to the helmsman while operating the boat at night. I have the same combined sidelight fixture on the bow rail of my Revenge Walk-Through and even those red/green lights give off far too much glare. I have considered moving by side light to the cabin as you propose to do with your boat.
However, on my boat I have the benefit of a RADAR arch which is the perfect mount for a masthead light (and many other things like antennas). In your case I suggest you consider the possibility of installing a masthead light on one of the bows of your Mill Flying Top. This may not be as outlandish as you think. Because the Flying Top on a Revenge Walk-Through is stowed in the upright position, the masthead light could be used whether the Flying Top is deployed or not.
The Mills Flying Top bows are tubular, so the wiring could be run within them for a clean installation.
posted 05-18-2012 09:47 AM ET (US)
Tom--Thank you for the comments.
To mount a lamp to the bow of the Flying Top canvas, I think the canvas would need to be modified. On my canvas the metal bows are completely enclosed in the canvas in a tunnel sewn in the canvas. Or at least that is my recollection. I will have to look more closely at the arrangement.
Also, I routinely lower the Flying Top bows for trailering the boat on the highway and to accommodate my boat cover for storage. A lamp attached to the bows would have to be fitted so as to not interfere when the bows are lowered.
posted 05-18-2012 09:50 AM ET (US)
ASIDE: The RADAR arch is a great solution, but it is expensive. It also makes the fixed vertical clearance of the boat much higher. I think I would like a RADAR arch, as it would give me places to mount more radio antennas. A fellow cannot have too many radios or radio antennas on a boat.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-18-2012 09:57 AM ET (US)
Yes, the canvas and the bow would have to be modified, but any good canvas shop could do that for a fraction of the cost of a RADAR arch. [ Though if anybody on earth could make good use a RADAR arch on a Revenge Walk-Through, it would be Jim Hebert ]
Since you propose using a clamp-on rail mount anyway, a simple cut-out is all that is needed on the canvas. A canvas shop would hem the edges of the small cut-out to reinforce it. I would use the stern bow for the mount to minimize rain water intrusion.
By using a clamp-on rail mont for the masthead light, the light could be rotated around the bow of the Flying Top to any position to accommodate a deployed position, furled position or stowed position for trailering.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-18-2012 10:01 AM ET (US)
I should add that the bow would need to be modified only if you wanted to run the wiring within it. One could also just run the wiring inside he sleeve of the canvas but on top of the exterior of the bow. It would be a little less elegant, but more economical. It also might be what you choose to do as a test before embarking on the aforementioned modifications.
If you do modify the bow for wiring, I suggest holes be drilled at the point of entry and the point of exit for the wiring. A welder would then run a smooth even bead around the hole to provide chafe protection for the wire. That is how my stainless steel RADAR arch is constructed.
posted 05-18-2012 02:42 PM ET (US)
On my former Revenge V20, there was a "masthead" light attached to a flip up pole mounted to the windshield, and a separate pole mounted stern light. This setup is similar to what you propose to do on your boat (except that the mast head light was not located at the bow), and I have to agree that it is a much better solution for navigation lighting than the way most walk through Revenges are set up with the 7' pole in the stern.
This picture shows the flip up light pole. Note the black plastic deflector on the pole. This deflector kept the light from shining on the foredeck, and worked quite well.
If the rules will tolerate a slight off center location of the mast head light, you could mount a similar flip up pole to your windshield. I had no complaints with this setup.
I agree with Tom though, having added a radar arch to my current Revenge, I can't imagine doing without it.
posted 05-18-2012 05:40 PM ET (US)
I don't see anything wrong with your approach or Rule 23. But it's getting complicated! The root cause of the problem appears to be the stowing of the 8' pole.
Your 1990 Revenge 22 with Whaler Drive has the aft "deck" which is of a different configuration than my 1990 Revenge 22 Walk-Though. My 8' pole is stowed to port, below the gunwale and supported by the fishing pole holders and the bottom end of the pole goes into a hole in the port side panel enabling me to slide it in and secure it very easily.
You have the aft deck which takes away roughly 18 inches of your cockpit. That will not allow you to stow your pole as I do.
Two ideas after looking at a few pictures of your boat:
1. Is there any way to slide the pole farther forward into that port side panel below the gunwale and possibly entending it into the "locker" where the walk-though sliding ladder stows? Might have to drill another 1-1/2" hole to allow this.
2. Thoughts on cutting the pole and adding eletrical connectors to put the wire back together or "hinging" it? Would only be a 4' problem to stow instead of 8'. Stow it in the rod holders or in brackets in the cabin on the overhead. Craft a way to add a dowl or such insert to make it 8' again. You "rarely" need the light - underway at night or anchored overnight. Rule 30 (g) can help here: "A vessel of less than 20 meters in length, when at anchor in a special anchorage area designated by the Secretary, shall not be required to exhibit the anchor lights and shapes required by this Rule." Many of these are noted on charts and sometimes designated with white buoys.
Every picture I see of your boat has the light pole. Time to stow it!
A fun springtime project.
posted 05-18-2012 08:41 PM ET (US)
I was reflecting on this topic after reading some of the suggestions, and I tried to think of the last time our boat was underway after dark--it was a while ago and it is out of the norm for us. We are usually boating in remote areas, and we don't make a habit of running around after dark. The navigation lighting problem is probably not as dire as one might think.
I have also thought of a solution involving adding a mast at the aft end of the cockpit. The mast would be tall enough to carry the masthead light one meter above the sidelights, and also strong enough to carry a radio antenna (in the form of a three-foot whip). The mast could also function as a hoist for flag at the stern. A mast like that would be a lot less expensive than a RADAR arch.
I have also thought of adding something like a RADAR arch at the stern, over the rear deck. This would be useful for holding up some cockpit awning canvas when at the dock.
There are several idea floating around in the discussion--all interesting ones.
ASIDE: Who was the OEM of the unique combined sidelight lamp that clamps onto the bow railing of the REVENGE W-T? I did not see a replacement lamp in the PERKO catalogue pages--all 30-pages of the catalogue, too.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-18-2012 08:52 PM ET (US)
posted 05-18-2012 09:17 PM ET (US)
I suppose that means there is no replacement available. I better be more careful with that lamp.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-18-2012 09:26 PM ET (US)
I have a spare bottom cap for that fixture, but other than that, I know of no spare parts at all. If I ditch mine, which I think I will, you can have it for parts.
posted 05-18-2012 09:58 PM ET (US)
The bottom cap--funny you should mention that. One fall we were running the boat for the last time that season from a launch ramp in Tawas, about 125-miles North of home. After we hauled the boat and had it all set to go on the trailer, I happened to look down at the pavement near the trailer hitch. There was this odd round thing on the pavement. I stooped over to pick it up. I examined it for a while. It looked like it was a very specialized part. Then I realized what it was: the bottom cover of the sidelight lamp! It had chosen that moment to come loose. Fortunately we were over land, and not in motion. I was lucky to see it and fortunate to figure out what it was, as I had never noticed it before.
posted 05-18-2012 10:10 PM ET (US)
Tom--with your skill as a carpenter and designer, you should make some wooden light boards for the sidelight lamps. Make them nice and long and varnished, and put the boat name in gold leaf. Like this one:
posted 05-18-2012 11:56 PM ET (US)
Jim - I believe you would have had your navigation lights on when this picture was taken last year: http://continuouswave.com/sail-logs/gb2011/images/6_JWH_0629_Sunset.jpg
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-20-2012 02:24 PM ET (US)
Jim -- If the essence of your dilemma is simply storing the stern light you have, then the easiest thing to do is cut it in half to make it easier to stow. Leave everything else alone and away you go.
You stern light pole is 100 inches (8'-4") tall. To convert it to a two-piece pole I would use a tubing cutter to cut the aluminum pole in half. Using a large tubing cutter with sharp cutter wheels and the pole wrapped with tape, the cut could be made without marring the anodizing on the aluminum.
You would then procure a short section of aluminum tubing to insert into the pole ends to act as a spline. This insert would be fixed to one of the poles with pop rivets or screws and the pole could be assembled or dissembled as needed. The two four foot lengths would stow in the under gunwale rod racks on your boat.
posted 05-23-2012 09:15 PM ET (US)
My unhappiness is more than just the long pole for the white all-round lamp and where to stow it. I think the lighting would be better--perhaps you could say "cooler" or certainly more traditional--if the boat had separate sidelights instead of the combined sidelights at the bow.
When changing to separate sidelights there is a corollary change needed: the masthead light must be on center line, or, if using a white all-round light, that must be on center line.
As a result, I have to get the masthead light on centerline. That was part of the solution with using the masthead light at the bow railing. However, I think Tom is right in his advice; there would probably be too much light spill from a masthead light in the helmsman's line of vision forward. To put the masthead light there is not a workable arrangement, even if it is compliant with Rule 23.
When I had the boat home last weekend I looked at the Mills Flying Top canvas. I did not see a simple solution for mounting a lamp to the aft bow of the canvas frame. The Flying Top has a skirting at its aft edge that hangs down to cover the zipper seam for the drop cloth. It would take quite a bit of cutting and sewing to make the frame appear in the center of the aft bow in order to mount a lamp.
I will give this project more thought. One option not mentioned so far among the suggestions is to create a RADAR arch-type frame at the stern. The construction of the arch could be much simpler than at the helm location because the attachment points to the deck would be very simple. The tube bending would be much less complex than for a RADAR arch that attaches to the REVENGE near the helm.
posted 05-24-2012 12:22 PM ET (US)
Jim, we know you are not a fisherman, but an arch located in the stern would be a huge turnoff to a future buyer who was a fisherman.
If you do seriously consider an arch, take a look at the "tower in a box" from Atlantic Towers. I installed one last year. Installation would have been simpler at the stern instead of on the cabin super structure, but we are talking a couple hours different, not a whole lot in the long run. Cost is the same regardless of how and where you mount the arch. The mast head light was part of the package.
Here is what it looks like on a Revenge. https://picasaweb.google.com/newtrevenge/ Revenge251986#5746134691544533506
posted 05-24-2012 01:00 PM ET (US)
Newt--Thanks for the comment made from the perspective of a fisherman. I had not given any thought to how an arch at the stern might encumber someone who was trying to troll or angle from the stern. That is a valid consideration.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-25-2012 09:59 AM ET (US)
Jim - I presume your Mills Flying Top is the same as my Mills Flying Top. I actually have an extra zipper on the top of mine for attaching my camper back canvas to. After examining mine I still think it would be a simple matter for a canvas shop to form a cut-out for a rail clamp.
In fact, it occurred to me that the rain flap that covers the zipper could be preserved if the pole the masthead light attached to had a U-shape to it so it descended from the bow before rising to above the Flying Top.
This would also serve as a drip loop for the pole so the light would not bring in rain through the cutout.
It also occurred to me the wire could be routed through the end fitting on the bow near the helm. This would simplify the drilling of the hole because the fitting could be removed from the canvas system and drilled out on a drill press or with a hand held drill, the edges of the holes could easily be chamfered and smoothed.
With that point of entry for the wiring into the bow, the wiring could be fitted with a simple plug and a corresponding socket could be mounted near the helm where it is protected from the weather and this would allow the Flying Top to be removed at any time without cutting any wire. It also shortened the run of wire for the masthead light considerably.
Having the connection near the helm would allow you to keep an eye on its condition too because it will, be at your right elbow.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-25-2012 10:08 AM ET (US)
But really, if you boat at night as little as you say, then I would not bother to do any of that Just cut and sleeve the light pole you have and that solves your pole storage problem.
I boat at night more than almost anybody else around here and having that masthead light fixed on the RADAR arch is hugely convenient for me.
I also got rid of the old OE Perko #1197 masthead light because it was so notoriously unreliable. I was constantly disassembling it to clean the contacts for the bulbs so it would light.
I swapped it out for a very inexpensive SeaDog LED all around white light:
Over the last few years, it has proven to be 100 percent reliable and I recommend this light to other Whaler owners. I think I paid about $25 for it at Fisheries Supply here in Seattle.
I simply drilled out the pop rivet holding the light fixture to the pole and discarded the pole and mount.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 06-03-2012 12:15 PM ET (US)
After further consideration, if you are going to cut the aluminum light pole, I would use a hacksaw and file the cut ends square to true them up. A tubing cutter will impart on inward flare that would have to be reamed out and the anodizing would be vulnerable to marring.
With a fresh fine tooth saw blade, the cuts would be clean enough to true with sandpaper stuck to a block of hardwood.
posted 06-03-2012 12:36 PM ET (US)
Thanks for the very useful suggestions on cutting the stainless steel pole.
Another alternative for the navigation lighting plan is provided by a stout mast mounted on the keel centerline at the aft deck. I have thought of fabricating an aluminum mast of about 2-inch diameter and with 0.125-inch wall. The mast section could be circular, and the mast could be made from standard 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. The mast would be mounted with a slight rake toward the stern.
The mast would be supported by passing through the aft deck and extending downward to the cockpit deck level, where the mast would fit into a receiver fitting secured to the deck. The bottom six inches of the mast would be slotted with a 0.4-inch wide slot. The slot would allow cables that run up through the inside of the mast to exit before the rest of the mast fit into the receiver fitting.
At the deck level the mast would pass through a fitting made by using a short section of aluminum tubing of 0.25-inch wall whose ID was just a few thousandths of an inch larger than the mast. You might have to turn this fitting on a lathe to get just the right ID. Stock tubes may fit too snugly. This fitting tube would, in turn, be welded to a plate that secured to the deck. The fitting tube passes through the plate at the mast rake angle.
Now the mast can be installed by passing it through the deck fitting and locating the end of the mast into the deck level receiver.
The mast height is chosen to be just 1-meter taller than the sidelights, which will be moved to the cabin superstructure side walls.
An all-round white lamp is mounted atop the mast.
At the top of the mast there is a flange fastened to the mast (It could be welded or fastened mechanically with threaded fasteners.) The flange serves several purposes. The flange projects forward and creates a shade or shutter to prevent the all-round lamp from illuminating the cockpit area below. The flange projects aft and provides an attachment point for a flagstaff halyard.
A few inches below the top of the mast, a second flange is attached. This flange projects sidewards and aft at an appropriate angle and extends several inches away from the mast, perhaps 8-inches, on each side. On one side a compact VHF Marine Band antenna such as an end-fed halfwave whip is installed. On the other side a GPS receiver-antena is installed.
The mast is kept in operating position when the boat is operational. For storage or hauling on the highway on a trailer, the mast can be remove and laid down in the cockpit. If the connectors are properly chosen, the disconnection of the lighting conductors, the radio antenna transmission line, and the GPS receiver cable could be made to be simple to disconnect when necessary to remove the mast.
The advantage to the mast compared to a RADAR arch would be:
--not fixed in position so could be removed when necessary, lowering the vertical clearance;
--less expensive than a RADAR arch;
--could be fabricated without complex tube bending or weldments
--might give a workboat aesthetic to the appearance of the classic Boston Whaler boat.
posted 06-03-2012 12:41 PM ET (US)
If the notion of the mast having a rake is abandoned, the fabrication becomes even simpler. Also, the mast would be mounted aft of the center hatch opening on the aft deck. During installation, the aft center hatch is opened, the liner removed, and the fittings and cables are easily reached thought the open hatch.
posted 06-05-2012 02:04 PM ET (US)
I apologize for coming late to this discussion, but in a quick scan of the message thread I don't see any acknowledgement of this clause of Rule 23:
23 c/d: A power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights.
Based on the above, can't you dispense with the stern light? On my '95 Outrage 21, I have separate side lights near the bow and an all-round light on the T-top at the center line, which I believe meet the legal obligations.
posted 06-05-2012 06:16 PM ET (US)
The all-round white light in lieu of masthead and sternlight is the configuration I proposed for the stern mast alternative (discussed in the later portion of the thread). If the sidelights are not combined at the bow, then the all-round light must be carried on vessel center line. The crux of the problem is to get the sidelights lower, and to separate the sidelights from the combined sidelight lamp at the bow into two sidelight lamps mounted lower. This means the masthead light or the all-round white light must be carried on vessel center line, and also the height of the pole can be shorter. This is the ultimate goal--eliminate the 8.5-foot tall pole.
posted 06-08-2012 11:52 AM ET (US)
Cut it half, add connectors to the wiring, and stow it. As you mentioned before, you rarely use it. The amount of work you might put into this project is already more than the amount of time you'd "use" the project.
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