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Old 18 October 2013, 07:42   #1
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out in the dark

So the days are getting shorter.. and me only getting my own rib early this year I'm keen for the fun to continue over winter...

my thoughts are now to going out in the dark for my first time. . I've done pb lvl2 and day skipper theory so I'm aware of the different nav lights etc. I have the basic nav lights fitted.

Do any of you go out at night and what tips can you give? Is there any more kit that I should have?

I will also have to launch and recover from trailer in the dark..

This might read like one of those how do I drill a hole posts.. but I'm looking to learn from others experiances.
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Old 18 October 2013, 08:02   #2
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ive never set off in the dark before, but ive returned in the dark numerous times. try to make sure your nav lights are spaced correctly - majority of ribs leave the factories with illegal(?) set ups - ie white light should be 1m above the red/green.
being out in the dark, even as the sun is going down, can be very disorientating - clouds on the horizon can look the same as land, land can also be a lot closer than you think it is etc.. so for those reasons i would recommend having a decent chartplotter and be able to follow it.
for night time recovery ive found having a hitch on the front of a 4x4 extremely useful as the headlights light up the boat and trailer perfectly.
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Old 18 October 2013, 08:25   #3
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Everything looks very different at night. Keep a good lookout for lobster pots and buoys, they appear out of the darkness very quickly. An illuminated compass is very useful. One of those red head band torches is great for checking your pilotage notes (white light just wrecks your night vision). Keep your speed down at night.
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Old 18 October 2013, 08:41   #4
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Whisper and I went fishing end of October last year. Due to the fact he had only caught a few doggies and I had caught a nice codling he wanted to stay out later. We were near Bramble Bank a stones throw from where we had launched. When whisper finally decided to give up () we pulled in the anchor and he said he couldn't see (forgot his glasses) so I said I would drive back. It was completely different in the dark we were both disorientated. Whisper directed me from the plotter and we could see building lights took us ages to work out what it was and put a bit of doubt in the back of my mind as to where we were. When we got very close we realised it was a cruise ship coming out of Southampton water

That was the one trip I have done in the dark, so even on very short passages it is quite hard so I would suggest start with small trips and slowly extend the distances. Also if you go out in daylight if you wide berth any buoys when it gets dark you can just follow your original track back home with a reasonable amount of confidence there shouldn't be anything in your path but obviously slow enough to give you reaction time should things have changed.
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Old 18 October 2013, 08:44   #5
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Best advice, plan your route , let others know the timings, and you will travel at lower speeds or you will get in a mess. Chris said constant watch all round looking for others and unlit items.
If travelling into a port understand what lights to expect, from buoys, sector lights. The other issue if you take for example Southampton, the land glow can be massive and this creates a loss of vision on buoys to to light pollution.

You cant always plan it, but first time out a full moon, if your lucky clouds wont hide the view, the difference from full moon to none is stark
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Old 18 October 2013, 09:18   #6
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You cant always plan it, but first time out a full moon, if your lucky clouds wont hide the view, the difference from full moon to none is stark

But being on the water at night, providing it is all under control is simply magic. Obviously it is a big comfort if you are familiar with the cruising area you intend to use at night (that is unless your name is AJ or Whisper )
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Old 18 October 2013, 09:27   #7
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But being on the water at night, providing it is all under control is simply magic.
Couldn't agree more - I love it - whether in a RIB or a canoe it is a different world.

Obviously it takes a lot more planning, preparation and care and I would suggest you think of doing the Advanced Powerboat course as with the right Training Centre you will get 2 night runs with an experienced API who will give you all the top tips which are too many to start listing off.

Good luck
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Old 18 October 2013, 09:58   #8
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I agree the advanced pb course is well worth doing, I really enjoyed doing mine.
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Old 18 October 2013, 10:31   #9
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Night time boating is exhilarating.

Plan it carefully. All the advice above is good. Make sure the boat is rigged properly with all rubbish and lines secured. Each crewperson needs a head torch and a waterproof torch in a pocket. Lifejackets should have some sort of light attached. If cruising in company, agree a formation and avoid travelling in the other boats wake - their nav lights aren't useful to you back there and you'll kill an MOB from the lead boat. Look at ways to dim all equipment lights on your boat - everything. After a while in the dark, even switch LEDs start to seem bright. In very dark conditions, I've taken the drastic step of reducing the forward intensity of the white all round nav light by putting some tape on part of that sector. It was that or loose any useful night vision I had (there was no other traffic ).

Work out your passage plan using the sequence of lights you'll be able to see. It's what they're there for.

Remember to dress warm and pack everything you need so it is to hand. Aldi are selling nice red equipped headlamps this weekend.
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Old 18 October 2013, 10:36   #10
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Pretty much all of the above! Ive done quite a bit of coming and going at night around Solent/Southampton Water/Itchen. Key points I've found which help is keep the speed right down and dont try and navigate for yourself. Having someone else looking after plotter/compass/route just seems to feel a lot safer and its another pair of eyes watching out! Not sure id suggest going anywhere new at night either!!

Only really alarming experience was after Cowes weeks fireworks (we were anchored on the bramble bank) which was almost surreal with the sheer number of boats weaving about. That became a 'follow something bigger' exercise!!!
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