Making a mast for your kayak night light

Discussion in 'Boat and Accessory Building' started by kayakwriter, Jan 16, 2016.

  1. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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  2. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Sorry Philip, but there's no way I'd put a light in front of my eyes like that.
    I love night paddling: one of the reasons is that it is night. But maybe there'd be a way if there was a light baffle below the light so it didn't shine on the kayak or be seen by the paddler.
     
  3. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Hey Mick,

    At least with the NaviLight, which beams its light out in an annulus (Oh, behave!), the light doesn't shine in your eyes if the mast is tall enough - which mine is. I like having the mount on the front deck so if I have to set the mast up at sea I don't need to do a destabilizing reach onto the back deck. If you're just launching as it gets dark, a back deck mount is fine since you can do all the tippy work on shore.
     
  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Ok, I just didn't realize how annulustic it was.
     
  5. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    Our flag / light masts go aft of the aft hatch on a removable platform. That keeps most of the aft deck clear for rescues or such. The mast plugs in using garden hose fittings and a fibreglass rod mast. The deck-platform hose fitting is brass, not plastic as the plastic ones are too weak, break off. The mast fitting is plastic as that is mechanically strong enough. You can slide the flag off the pole and slide a light fitting on.

    Though flashing lights are supposedly not allowed I can't see how a stationary light can be distinguished from stationary shore lighting in some places. If you hold the light (torch) and shine it at an approaching vessel it should be more noticeable and if waved a bit, definitely not a street light.

    So, from that, is a mast light necessary? Or is it better to have a hand held torch that you switch on when necessary and preserve your night vision?
     
  6. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    A flashlight or "torch" you can show in sufficient time meets the legal requirement for "a vessel under oars" in Canada and, I believe, in the US. What "in sufficient time" means is anyone's guess. Presumably if you've been run down, it wasn't sufficient time. Plus, some big boats, like tugs, can overtake you very quietly. So in high traffic areas I go with the continuous mast light and also keep a headlamp handy to beam directly at traffic I'm not sure has seen me.
     
  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Even on the relatively power boat free Columbia I have had a couple near encounters with fast moving boats, mainly gill netters brimful of local knowledge. A handheld flashlight did not seem to faze them. I suspect that Kayakwriter's bright annulus of light would have provided better warning.

    I agree with Mick's abhorrence of light in the eyes ... a deck light can be nasty. In the end, I now carry an LED headlamp and switch it on bright and stare them down. With a narrow, focused beam, back scatter is pretty small.
     
  8. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Dibs on this as the name for my folk band!

    BTY, in addition to my mast light and back-up headlamp, I've also applied several SOLAS-grade reflective stickers to my kayak (they're visible in the photo upthread.) Besides showing up well in the searchlights of ferries and tugs trying to clarify what they're seeing (yes, I've had it happen), they make it easy to locate your kayak in camp for after-dark stowage of food and dishes.
     
  9. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    That searchlight business from a tug is just about the last thing before they take evasive action. Tug operators treasure their night vision as much as we do. When the beam goes up, theirs is gone for several minutes. It is a tough watch they stand, confined waters, anyway.
     
  10. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    In the incident I'm thinking of, they'd overtaken me. I had a 360 light on my rear deck - a pre-LED bulb model that was much dimmer than my current lights. They swept me with their searchlight to see what that apparent candle on the water was. I'd equipped that kayak with SOLAS reflective patches too, so they could make out my shape and size. I hailed'em on my VHF to let'em know I was aware of their presence and wouldn't be cutting across their course line - especially since they were travelling "heavy" - I.E., with a barge in tow.
     
  11. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    Internationally that is so.

    One of the few times I've paddled at night was leaving camp at 3.30 a.m. (the gale had died and I needed to get to work, 300 km away) and nearly being hit by a low flying seagull. Neither of us was displaying any lighting. I suppose a complaint to the FAA (Aviation Authority) wouldn't have done much good either. Yes, I was late for work, there about mid morning.
     
  12. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I fall into the same camp as Mick -- having a light that faces forward is very distracting and messes with my night vision.

    My solution is to use the short Scotty suction cup mounted deck light on the rear deck behind the cockpit (blocking all forward light with my body) and have a head lamp readily available for forward light if needed.

    The biggest complaint (beyond ruining night vision) I have about forward facing lights is the constant 'flashing' that occurs when the light bounces off of my paddle blades.

    Generally at night, things are quite a lot quieter and you can hear power boats approaching from a long distance away. I've never had any issues with paddling at night -- and have done many very long paddles in the dark without incident.