Date: 19 March 2014. Anchor Light Fix.
Each night shortly after dark I look forward to the bow
where I confirm the anchor light is working by the reflection in the
stainless rail. I can also check the wind generator -- if it's lit,
the anchor light is functioning. Alas, earlier this week darkness
prevailed, and that is unacceptable.
The first thing I did was flip on my steaming light switch.
It's an all-around white light at the top of the boat and initially was
the anchor light. I found another unit, LED so it uses less power.
Rather than remove the first one I added a new anchor light for Seaweed.
[Legally, because Seaweed is less than 26' I can use the
all around white for a steaming light rather than the arced variety.
In case you wondered. Still, even though I'm only required to have one
mile lights on the boat I do have 2-mile LEDs. I like to shine.]
Steaming Light (#1), support (#2)
for solar panel, GPS puck (#3) for VHF, and,
Anchor Light (#4).
Redundancy is helpful -- especially when things go belly
up. Still, as the steaming light uses 1 amp per hour and I had a
second old light (formerly a Davis anchor light) I used the portable
Davis I'd tweaked.
And I do NOT recommend this particular Davis light product,
the Mini-Mega with photo-cell. Mine was great, until it quit. Trouble
shooting led me to believe it was the photo-sensitive part that failed as
power got to the board but not past that little dingy part to the bulb.
Because mine quit, I contacted the company for a replacement. No response.
The Davis company's communication skills leave a lot to be
desired. Of course I'm a boater and we talk to each other, especially when
a product does not to meet our expectations. A few months
later I was grumbling again about the doggone light failure with an
electrical engineer and he said the company used to be great at responding
so give them another try. I did, with equally abysmal results, i.e.
nothing at all.
And frankly, I'm not even certain this is a warranty
matter. Because they never answered either of my letters I really
don't know if this is a problem they would rectify by sending a new one,
So I dismantled the Davis light and used the plastic case
to make another light. Nothing is wasted aboard Seaweed. I installed a LED
inside the case and called it good. That's what I mounted atop my day-ball
so I'd have an anchor light up there while I resolved the issue with my
My main anchor light is the Owl by Bebi-electronics.
Unfortunately there were some issues in Fiji where it was manufactured.
The company is no longer run by the guy who created it. He was a sailor and
gosh, I wish now I'd bought a couple more Owls plus one of the blue lights
he sold. Of course if I had a dollar for every item I didn't buy,
well, I could buy a lot of cool stuff!
Back from my bunny trail... the anchor light did not work
so the first thing to do was get another light up and working. Done.
Next I suspected the reason the light was not coming
on was because I'd used an old switch. About three years ago someone had
tossed a 12-volt fan by a garbage dumpster and I'd retrieved it. The fan
didn't function but the switch did, so I took it. When I needed a
switch for the anchor light, that's the one I chose.
Mini-Lesson about Switches
A switch is merely an
interrupter of sorts. What you do is you take your ground wire
from the item (in this case, my anchor light) and run it to
the ground of your power supply. Next I wanted to be
able to shut off power to the anchor light. Mine has a
photo-sensor in it so it comes on automatically at dusk.
Thus the need for a
switch. The switch will prevent the power from reaching the
light so that if I am at a dock my anchor light won't come on.
Presuming I shut off the switch that is!
The problem I had was that though power
reached the switch (tested with my multi-meter) the light
was not coming on. To trouble-shoot what I did was
disconnect the two positives and clip them together as such:
(as shown above) is a handy device to have in your tools
arsenal. Oh, and imagine the wires coming out on both
ends of my connectors. The picture I took up in that
compartment of my pilothouse overhead was fuzzier than this
With both positives
connected what I had done essentially was bypass the switch.
Then I went topside and covered the photo-cell. Voila: the
anchor light came on brightly. Thus I knew the issue
was with the switch and an easy, inexpensive solution was at
I simply installed another switch
and now, once again my anchor light works. Having spares is
important and this time my stash failed me. I went to Mr. Gander's
Hardware Store where for less than $4 I came away with a nice on/off
switch for Seaweed.
Side Note: I separated the navigation lights (port
and starboard) from the steaming light. Originally all were on one
switch but the necessity of an anchor light meant pulling out the steaming
from the other pair. Another benefit is system redundancy for Seaweed.
The spare portable anchor light is now put away and all is well lit onboard Seaweed at
night. To you and yours, good night and sleep tight.
Do you also have a spare anchor light as a back-up?
And do you always use your anchor light when anchoring?
In the Bilges,
Tired Captain ~
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