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Norm02

Adding docking lights

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Norm02

Hey everyone,

I’m thinking about adding some docking lights to our boat since a few times per month we use it late into the evening and it would make trailer loading easier.  Does it make more sense to add some lights to the tower or have lights installed into the bow of the boat?

I generally don’t like the idea of doing mods that can’t be undone but on the other hand this would be a paractical addition to the boat and obviously a lot of boats have these installed from the factory.  Thoughts? 

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Bozboat

I don't have docking lights but if my goal was to make loading after dark easier, I would add strips of LED lights to the trailer runners.  The photos I have seen of that mod look great.  

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formulaben

@Bozboathas a great idea...I've since seen these and they are great.  I added these Attwood docking lights to my boat.  I wanted docking lights but didn't want a big hole in my boat and also didn't want a huge power draw.  The wires are probably already there in your boat; in my case they were and it was a very simple installation; IIRC a 1/4" hole for the wire and 2 holes to pre-drill the #8 screws (don't forget to chamfer the holes before installing!)  Hardest part was "aiming" them; e.g. to figure out where to install them on the curved part of the bow where the light would shine.  I just had a buddy hold the light against the hull with a portable battery attached and we found the proper place...it's very close to the OEM docking light areas of that era. 

These lights definitely do the job, but note they are just docking lights, they illuminate what's in front of you so you can see and avoid hitting it but they are dim enough you keep most of your night vision.  I tend to turn them off once I am in close proximity of the dock.  Light range is good and appropriate for the task.  I can see the dock a couple hundred feet away and illuminates the area well once close assuming dark conditions.  I am very happy with them.  I've seen newer models that are more lower profile, which I would prefer.  These lights have a stainless steel cover and you can't beat the price.  They also come in black.

Anyhow, it sounds like you're only interested in the light necessary for trailering, and this would fit the bill...BUT for the benefit of others reading this if you want some crazy light show, these definitely aren't for you.  Just note that any white vessel lights (including both forward and backward facing tower lights) are not just a PITA for other boaters, but illegal in most states for use while underway, and for good reason: they completely blank out the navigation light, rendering them useless to other boaters trying to navigate/yield to the oncoming boat.  /rant

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Norm02
1 hour ago, Bozboat said:

I don't have docking lights but if my goal was to make loading after dark easier, I would add strips of LED lights to the trailer runners.  The photos I have seen of that mod look great.  

I like that idea also but aren’t you supposed to pull the trailer light plug when you’re backing the trailer into the water?  Is that old school and not necessary with waterproof light housings? 

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Bozboat
Posted (edited)

I think the idea of unplugging your trailer lights centered around the idea that Hot bulbs and cold water dont work well.  I have replaced all of my trailer lights with LEDs and leave it plugged in.  Also, my trailer brakes require a signal from the reverse lights to deactivate when backing up.  Landing lights can be activated by a float switch,  I would think they would be more helpful than docking lights, but just guessing.

 

something like this:

 

Edited by Bozboat

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formulaben
9 hours ago, Norm02 said:

I like that idea also but aren’t you supposed to pull the trailer light plug when you’re backing the trailer into the water?  Is that old school and not necessary with waterproof light housings? 

I have NEVER done it.  I had sealed bulbs up until this year, now LEDs.  Far too risky if you forget to plug them back in when you leave...it happens.

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Norm02
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, formulaben said:

I have NEVER done it.  I had sealed bulbs up until this year, now LEDs.  Far too risky if you forget to plug them back in when you leave...it happens.

Good to know and it was something that my Dad always did so I followed along.  I’m planning on swapping the trailer light bulbs to LEDs so perhaps that will cool them down if that even matters.  What LED bulbs did you use and where did you find them? 

10 hours ago, Cole2001 said:

I dig the trailer lights and they would help with wiping the boat down at night as mentioned in the link.  Would probably add an on/off switch onto the trailer so that I could leave the lights while I wipe down the boat.  Might be cool to mount the switch somewhere by the winch. 

Edited by Norm02

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mackie12

I bought an "Amazon Special" LED light bar, 20" c/w spot lights on either side. Installed it on the top underside of my illusion tower and fits snug just under bimini. Wired a switch to beside heated seats switch and seems to work fine. Said and done, cost $40.00.

the light itself is nothing to fancy, lights up the dock area from a few hundred feet away, but makes docking at night easier.

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formulaben
Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Norm02 said:

Good to know and it was something that my Dad always did so I followed along.  I’m planning on swapping the trailer light bulbs to LEDs so perhaps that will cool them down if that even matters.  What LED bulbs did you use and where did you find them?

I bought them at a local truck stop but could have saved a few bucks doing this.  I didn't know mine had that plug on there...literally took 2 minutes to swap out, stupid simple.  I felt really dumb it took me 5 years to swap them out.  It's just a 3-pin connector and held by a rubber sleeve, just push the old one out and push the new one in and reconnect.  This presumes you have this style of light...

Just make sure you match the right colors with what your trailer has...I've seen combined red/white and solid red split from the reverse lights.

Edited by formulaben

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kerpluxal
2 hours ago, ibelonginprison said:

Just don't drive around with them on at night. In many states it's illegal to use docking lights out on the water to just "drive around" with.
For two reasons -
1. docking lights on the front can make it hard/impossible to see your front nav lights. And if the front red/green nav lights aren't visible from a certain distance (like a half mile) then in all the states I know of it's illegal to operate the boat without the red/green's clearly visible.
2. if you use LED light bars/pods - it blinds the other drivers who have already had their eyes adjust to the darkness and makes it super dangerous for them to drive. (on top of being highly inconsiderate to other boaters)

So - docking lights while docking or pulling on a trailer are great, and turning them on occasionally on the water to check in front of you is fine, but PLEASE do not drive around with them on, all the time, at night. That's not what they were intended for. 

I've heard of lots of people being pulled over by marine patrol for this... and I'm actually OK with it, cause I do a lot of night boating and I hate being blinded, or not being able to see the red/green nav lights (which tell you who has the right of way, at night)

 

100% correct... almost every boat on the river I am on leaves them on and I can't see anything anymore afterwards... 

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