By Andy Adams

Navigation light repairs and replacements you can do yourself.

In researching this article, we spoke to a number of marine industry professionals and started by asking, “Have you ever noticed boats on the water at night with incorrect or missing lights?

“Or none at all!” was the frequent response we got as people laughed out loud about how common it is for navigation lights to be faulty.

It’s not a laughing matter though. This is a serious safety issue and one that is far too often ignored until the lights are needed.

It just makes sense at the beginning of the season to check them to make sure your navigation lights are in good condition and operating correctly.

Lenses seem to get hit and broken, severe wave impact can sometimes blow a lens out and the heat an incandescent bulb generates can cause it to blow if cold water gets in.

To get a knowledgeable professional’s perspective, we contacted Rob Davidson Program Coordinator for the Marine Engine Mechanics Program and Apprenticeship Training at Georgian College in Midland, Ontario who trains many new marine technicians every year. We asked Rob what generally causes the problems in navigation lighting.

He immediately answered that it is most commonly a wiring issue or that the bulb has blown. Wiring can come loose, water intrusion corrodes connections causing resistance, and a voltage drop that causes the circuit to fail ...you get the idea.

Depending on the boat you have, in Canada, all but the smallest power and sailboats come equipped with Coast Guard approved and certified navigation lights, but these standard fixtures are generally of low interest to new boat buyers and the builders sometimes choose cost over quality. Ten years later, the OEM fixtures may fail.

Rob also pointed out that boats more than just a few years old probably have incandescent bulb lighting. He explained that the fixture was originally Coast Guard certified using a particular bulb for power, colour intensity and the required two-mile distance. You can’t just replace the bulb with any 12 volt bulb.

This is also true for the lenses, so although it makes sense to keep the OEM fixtures, that may not be the best answer. He also points out that you can now buy LED replacement bulbs but these may not fit the old fixture and they may not deliver the correct power, beam spread or colour. So, let’s assume you have at least some work to do to have reliable nav’ lights this season.

Luckily, a number of the OEM marine navigation lighting companies have been in the business a very long time and they may still have parts to repair your OEM lighting systems.

These could be [in alphabetical order]:  Aquasignal.com, Attwoodmarine.com, Hellamarine.com, Perko.comsea-dog.com and seasense.com.

If you can’t repair the OEM fixtures, we suggest going with brand-new LED models. LEDs have a lot of advantages. They use about one tenth of the power, last far longer, may be “potted” in a totally waterproof epoxy. LEDs can be very shock-resistant but they are significantly more expensive to buy and you need ones with proper shielding to prevent electromagnetic interference, (EMI).

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are not just a bulb, they often have circuitry built-in and some of that LED switching circuitry can generate electromagnetic interference that causes static on VHF radios and “hash” on fish finder displays. A “CE” mark on the LED indicates that it is shielded to attenuate EMI. Your marine chandlery can verify that.

If you decide to replace your lights yourself, the skill level required isn’t particularly high but this can be a ‘fiddly” job and you will need a number of tools to do the job properly.

You’re going to need a drill (cordless is handy), drill bits and a countersink, screwdrivers, wire cutters, wire strippers, a crimping tool, putty knife, heat gun, acetone, cleanup rags and rubber gloves as well as marine caulking and most importantly, you will need dielectric grease, marine crimp-on butt connectors and heat shrink tubing to make secure connections that don’t corrode or come loose.

We should point out that ABYC, the American Boat and Yacht Council who sets the marine construction standards, recommends that solder not be the sole means of fastening a terminal to wire. Crimping and soldering are quite acceptable but solder alone is not enough.  A properly crimped and sealed connection will last a lifetime.

The reason is that by soldering marine wire causes the wire to become solid like the copper wire that is used in your house.  The reason we do not use solid copper wire in a boat is because vibration will cause the wire to break.  A soldered wire in a boat will eventually break creating an open circuit.

So, with the parts and tools ready, figure out how the original fixture was mounted and remove it carefully pulling the positive and negative wires up and out through the hole to give you some wire to work with and secure them so they don’t slip back down the hole. 

Inspect the old wire for corrosion, chafing or other damage and to be safe, replace it with new marine grade wire for the entire run if you can.

Use your putty knife rubber gloves, solvent and rags to scrape away and clean off any old sealing material on the mounting surface and remove any sharp edges that could scrape insulation off the wire.

It’s critically important to seal the wire connections against moisture and corrosion.

Next, strip the end of each wire, coating them with dielectric grease and then splice the pigtails of the LED lights to the power leads using the crimp-on butt connectors and heat shrink collars. Use your heat gun to seal it tight.

Mark the new mounting holes using the base of the light itself as a template, drill each hole being careful of what’s behind the mounting surface such as wires or cored areas of fiberglass if you are relocating the fixture. Do not drill into cored areas.

User your countersink to slightly bevel each hole to keep the gelcoat from cracking and prepare to install the fixture.

Most new LED navigation lights, are constructed as “potted” solid-state units that are completely waterproof, but you still need to make sure to keep water from seeping underneath and into the boat. Typically, you get a rubber or foam gasket for mounting and you may still need to bed the fixture with marine sealant. There’s usually some kind of chrome or stainless steel cap that completes the installation and you’re ready to see and be seen this summer on the water!

http://www.aquasignal.com.au

http://www.attwoodmarine.com

http://www.hellamarine.com

http://www.perko.com

http://www.sea-dog.com/categories/lighting

http://www.seasense.com

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: This clever bicolor running light pops up when needed, then retracts below deck level to ensure that lines and people’s feet don’t damage it during the day.

Photo 2: Lights in this grouping of 5 and 6 inch high Perko LEDs for big boats give up to a 5 nautical mile range.

Photo 3: The removable running lights are important feature on this Legend fishing boat. The tall poles give them highest night visibility and the 360 degree stern light provides some interior lighting as well.




Related Articles
Power
  • 31 May 2018
  • By Ethan

Ranger Tugs R-23

At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives and children most likely to want to stop and have a better look. Well, they should, because the...

Destinations

  • Prev
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.
The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) invites all sailors to join a cruising rally from the ...
Long popular with New England and St. John area boaters, Passamaquoddy Bay is too often overlooked ...
We did breakfast yesterday in the Greek port of Piraeus, just outside Athens:strong coffee, crisp ...
After much speculation Prince Harry finally popped the question to American actress and longtime ...

 Killarney

KillarneyStory and Photos by: Jennifer Harker

We’re aboard Attigouatan, a Pursuit 2260 that normally lives life as a friend’s cottage boat, running back and forth from dock to dock. This will be her longest run in four years, travelling the approximately 120 kilometres (80 miles) northwest from Parry Sound to Killarney, threading our way through the northern reaches of the stunning 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay’s eastern shoreline.

Her name evokes an early indigenous name for Lake Huron – Spirit Lake. 

Read more about Killarney....

  

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This photo from a CPS member shows how talented boaters are. Brenda Cochrane from Kelowna BC, a ...
The first part of this blog will show that not every day is blue sky and sunshine in the Bahamas!
This beauty came our way from Reel Deal Yachts in Bahia Mar, Florida. Why not charter for the ...
This new legislation from Washington State Department of Fisheries applies to boats launched in ...
Don’t miss this brilliant photo double header
In honour of Launch Day, our POTW this time comes from Wendy Loat in Port Credit. This shot, taken ...
Our favorite, Man-O-War Cay, is home to the Albury Boat Building empire. They have been building ...
On the Easter Weekend, the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club from Vancouver Island, had its first ...
We were finally able to get a SIM card and data plan on our phone Monday morning. We could now ...
It’s Friday afternoon at the Newport Yacht Club in Stoney Creek, and that can only mean one thing - ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

 

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440By Zuzana Prochazka

There are few things more satisfying than watching someone thumb their nose at tradition and introduce something revolutionary that kicks convention to the curb. French designer, Philippe Briand, has done just that for Jenneau’s new line of Sun Odyssey family cruisers. By starting with a clean sheet, Briand re-thought how we move about on deck and below, and the results on the Jeanneau 440 are game changing.

Jeanneau unveiled the first hull of their 440 in Annapolis with dramatic flair. On command, the plastic that sheathed half the boat...

Read more about the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440....

 

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.
The 2018 Northwest Boat Travel Guide just arrived. This time of the year is the perfect time for ...
We are all looking to gain a little more time these days, and technology is often the route we ...
While they are no longer a part of the CPS Flare Program, Fogh Boat Supplies and Fogh Marine, both ...
We have all had the experience of heading down below on a nice boat only to encounter an unpleasant ...