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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 is 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.  That is 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 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 am 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 yet 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 am not even certain this is a warranty matter.  Because they never answered either of my letters I really do not know if this is a problem they would rectify by sending a new one, or not.

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 is what I mounted atop my day-ball so I would have a low power (LED) anchor light up there while I resolved the issue with my main one.

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 had bought a couple more Owls plus one of the blue lights he sold.  Of course if I had a dollar for every item I did not 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 used an old switch. About three years ago someone had tossed a 12-volt fan by a garbage dumpster and I retrieved it. The fan however not function but the switch did, so I kept it.  When I needed a switch for the anchor light, that is 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 will not turn on. Presuming I will remember to 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:


An Alligator Clip (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 one!

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 hand.


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?

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