One of the more nerve wracking issues many boaters face is being able to safely anchor for extended periods when on long cruises. Some of the worst stories you’ll hear involve folks who found what they thought was a safe anchorage well away from regular traffic, only to wake in the middle of the night to find another vessel bearing down on them in the darkness. Unfortunately, this is just as often the fault of the boat owner as it is the owner of the underway vessels’. Too many boaters assume because they are well removed from the lanes of normal traffic and in what appears to be a fairly acceptable position, that they are thus safe from potential collisions, and so think nothing of saving a few amps of power by not running a dedicated anchor light. Even worse, some boaters tend to utilize anchor lights which are woefully inadequate or improperly placed, making its use really a moot point. If you doubt the reality of all this, simply take the time to note at sunset how many vessels are anchored nearby the next time you are out, and then how many all around anchor lights you see illuminated once darkness falls. Chances are you’ll be more than a little surprised.  free microsoft office download 2010

It really is unfortunate that many boaters fail to give enough attention to their anchor lighting. Although it is true that an anchor light producing the standard minimum visibility as outlined in Inland Navigational rules can create a substantial drain on battery reserves over the course of a night, the potential consequences of not running one, and the energy efficient options available, really take away any justification for not running one. It simply is not worth the risk of collision, or the fines and citations that come with being out of compliance, just to reduce the drain on your power reserves. There are safer ways to save power and still maintain compliance, and all it takes is a little knowledge and willingness to try something new.

The full text of Navigational Rules can be found online at the USCG’s website, and they outline what you as a boater need to know in order to maintain safe and compliant lighting operation. Rule 30 in particular references anchored and aground vessels, and we’ll include it here for convenience.

“Rule 30 – Anchored Vessels and Vessels Aground”
(a) A vessel at anchor shall exhibit where it can best be seen: (i) in the fore part, an all-round white light or one ball;
(ii) at or near the stern and at a lower level than the light prescribed in subparagraph (i), an all-round white light.
(b) A vessel of less than 50 meters in length may exhibit an all-round white light where it can best be seen instead of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule.
(c) A vessel at anchor may, and a vessel of 100 meters and more in length shall, also use the available working or equivalent lights to illuminate her decks.
(d) A vessel aground shall exhibit the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) or (b) of this Rule and in addition, if practicable, [Inld] where they can best be seen; (i) two all-round red lights in a vertical line;
(ii) three balls in a vertical line.
(e) A vessel of less than 7 meters in length, when at anchor not in or near a narrow channel, fairway or where other vessels normally navigate, shall not be required to exhibit the shape prescribed in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this Rule.
(f) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length, when aground, shall not be required to exhibit the lights or shapes prescribed in subparagraphs (d)(i) and (ii) of this Rule.
(g) 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.

As you can see, an anchor light is not an option, but a legal requirement. So, just how is it possible to run a compliant anchor light all night without producing a substantial drain on your battery reserves? Well, the best option these days involves upgrading from your old incandescent bulb anchor light to one outfitted with LEDs. An old incandescent style anchor light can pull anywhere from 1 to 3 amps per hours from a 12 volt electrical system. Worse, these incandescent lights are very often just barely visible to the 2 nautical mile requirement, making them at best adequate, and at worst difficult to see if conditions are less than ideal. If we run a 1 amp anchor light for 10 hours, that is 10 amps pulled from the battery bank, which adds up if you also consider you’ll likely be running cabin fans and interior lighting as well.

An LED anchor light on the other hand will operate about 80% more efficiently than an incandescent version. A typical incandescent bulb puts out about 15 lumens per watt, and an LED about 60 to 70 lumens per watt. This means you can produce a much brighter 360 degree signal while pulling far less power. If your current 3 watt anchor light produces 45 lumens, you can get a 1 watt LED which will produce around 60, and pull less than 1 amp. This can knock down power consumption to somewhere around 3-4 amps after 10 hours of operation, showing not only less battery drain, but improved output as well.

With this kind of performance, there is just no real reason why any boater should skimp on the safety and security of an anchor light just to try saving a few amps of power, especially when they can knock power consumption down so much with just a fixture change. You can produce a brighter signal that will be easier for other boaters to see, even in less than ideal conditions, reduce power use, and maintain compliance with navigation regulations, all by simply upgrading to LEDs in your anchor light.

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