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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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Old 18 October 2013, 11:16   #11
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wow thanks for all the replies there everyone. Most of it seems to be common sense based, but there were some things there that i hadnt really thought about and considered in much detail!

For instance lights on lifejackets.. i dont have those, but i hope i can retrofit them? I have some basic Crewsaver automatic lifejackets.. I will google them to see if you can buy some retro fit lights.

Some pot markers can be bugger to see in the daytime, so i image its even harder at nighttime!

I will think about doing the advanced powerboat, but dont you have to do intermediate first? I was thinking of trying to get the day skippper practical in at some point next year, but might revise thought to be the powerboat intermediate and advanced then..

I did think about going to the cowes week firework display but I decided i would probably be better off doing some runs in the dark when its quite first.

Thanks for the tip regarding auldi and their headlamp, think i will head down to my local one this weekend.
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Old 18 October 2013, 11:18   #12
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For instance as lifes on lifejackets.. i dont have those, but i hope i can retrofit them?
Lifejacket Lights - Lifejacket Gas, Lights, Hoods, Lifelines, Straps - Products - Marine Warehouse Ltd
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Old 18 October 2013, 11:19   #13
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All Good Advice.......Night time Cruiseing = Everything x2!..but if it cuts up Rough..(or you get caught out late in it) a Well Mounted Big Bad 12v Handheld Lamp to see the Wave Pattern,(Or help too)..CAN BE A LIFESAVER!... AND you won't give a Toss about yer loss of Night Vision!!
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Old 18 October 2013, 11:39   #14
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I will think about doing the advanced powerboat, but dont you have to do intermediate first? I was thinking of trying to get the day skippper practical in at some point next year, but might revise thought to be the powerboat intermediate and advanced then..
The answer to the first point is no you do not have to do your Intermediate before doing your Advanced - its an anomaly but there you go.

Whether you do the Intermediate before the Advanced is entirely up to you.
I appreciate that money and time are a major issue but the key questions are
What experience do you want to gain?
How much confidence do you want to gain?
How much fun do you want to have?

I look at it simply - if you can't do it during the day then you are st*ffed if you try to do it at night.

That's why I would always recommend anyone with limited experience to do the Intermediate first and then practise and lock down all that knowledge and skills gained before doing the Advanced.

Then when you do the Advanced you will really enjoy the challenges on offer and come away raring to go.

Yes it takes longer and costs more but the potential benefits are well worth it.
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Old 18 October 2013, 11:45   #15
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Old 18 October 2013, 11:59   #16
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All of the above is very good advice. I had not had any issues launchin/receovering in the dark if you are well rehearsed during the day. Just mind out for trip hazards you may not see.

Keep it slow, and don't assume because you know an area during the day, you be bale ot navigate easily at night. use your chart plotter, and as said before, have someone with you to navigate and one to helm, ideally one more to keep a lookout. Lights are very hard ot see at night, especially the greens. Once again, once you are comfortable, boating at night is amazing.
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Old 18 October 2013, 12:51   #17
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I did not do the intermediate I went straight from pb2 to advanced pb.
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Old 19 October 2013, 04:15   #18
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We night cruise a lot,as said before do your homework,leave details of passage plan ashore and start in familiar waters and extend passages once you've gained experience and confidence. Moon lit nights are fantastic for starters.
I only have Day skipper ticket,but you can't beat time afloat.
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Old 19 October 2013, 06:49   #19
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Have to agree with all the above. Night driving is amazing.

2 amazing ones stand out in my memory; doing the Advanced PB and navigating into Larne harbour and then Larne Lough. White knuckle ride that one but such a thrill to have done it. So dark we couldn't even see each other in the boat!
Then traveling up from Upper Lough Erne to Lower Lough Erne on Halloween night, watching the fireworks and then moving in convoy through Enniskillen and finding my way back to the marina to recover. Unbelievably magic evening - relied on instinct and a sense of presence rather than skill, but managed it.

Enjoy!
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Old 19 October 2013, 07:05   #20
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So dark we couldn't even see each other in the boat!
Which in fairness, was a blessing
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