Anchor Light Project

An anchor light is something we should all use when dropping the hook for an overnight stay.

Unfortunately, many of the smaller sailboats do not come equipped with such a light. Moreover, running the wiring*** illustration of anchor light *** necessary to install an anchor light on top of an already crowded masthead can be a lot of trouble, and sooner or later the wires will short out or the light blub will burn out.

Those of us without a permanently mounted anchor light can always use a halyard to hoist up a kerosene lamp or a self- contained battery powered light. But there are problems with these alternatives. The electric light can go through a lot of batteries and as far as a kerosene lamp is concerned, I have never been too comfortable with the idea of fire and fuel swinging above my head as I sleep below decks.

One solution to this dilemma is to make an anchor light that can be plugged into the boat's 12 volt electrical system and raised above your deck with a halyard. All that is needed is a short piece of wood, 15 to 20 feet of wire, eye-rings, and an inexpensive 12 volt clearance light. (These lights are mounted on top of a truck's cargo box, and they can be found for about three dollars in the automotive section of a Canadian Tire store.) Assemble everything as illustrated. Note that one of the wires from the boat's electrical system has to be attached to the light's metal bracket (with a truck, the metal body provides the ground connection to the battery).

When it is time to use the anchor light, shackle a halyard to the top eye-ring and raise it about 10 to 15 feet above deck. A line should be tied to the bottom eye-ring and attached somewhere on deck to steady the light once it is in position. The electrical wires can be connected directly to the boat's battery or some other point in the electrical system. You may want to install a permanent plug for this purpose.

When raising the anchor light, be sure to keep it away from the mast so that it will be visible from 360 degrees. Running the light up along the forestay or backstay is a good way of achieving this. Also keep in mind that there is no need to raise it very high. Someone manoeuvring though a tight anchorage will have an easier time spotting a light 10 to 15 feet above deck than one on top of a 35 foot mast

Text and graphics by Michael McGoldrick.
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