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Michigan boarder

Tower lights or bow docking lights?

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Michigan boarder

I'm putting together my list of projects for the winter and I'd like to add some kind of lighting. We keep our boat on a lift at a small marina, and it is very tight getting in and around from the entrance to our slip. When the sun is down typically there is not much light around the boats, probably because it would just attract more bugs to the area. What is the best option? Tower lights seem like they would be better since they are more adjustable, but the bow lights would be nice tucked away out of sight. Does anyone have experience with either in a similar situation?

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mikeo

I'd rather have solar lights on the docks and use a hand held corded spot light. A lot less to install & way more versatile.

Holding a spot light and trying to dock the boat is a recipe for disaster, and trying to get someone to hold the spot light for you means the light is never where you want it.

Here's the short qualifying question: do you want to mount something to the tower or drill/cut holes in the gelcoat & fiberglass? I know I'd rather deal with the tower and wring there first...

Edited by mikeo

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DarkSide

I had docking lights on my 14, they were all but useless, I have tower LED on my 15. Way more light, and as pointed out no gel cutting.

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flapjack

I don't know how bad bugs are around you, but I can not operate my boat with lights at idle without getting attacked by bugs. I even turn off nav lights when pulling into my dock.

I'm surprised a marina is so dark you need any lights at all.

Having said that, I'd go with tower lights. My boat has bow lights, and they pretty much light up in front. In a marina, you'll want at least 180degree lighting.

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minnmarker

Headlamps are great and you can get some powerful ones meant for night bike riding - but bugs can be a problem. Another option is slapping one of these on a quick connect mount on the tower http://www.amazon.com/Flesser%C2%AE-Light-6000K-Degree-Waterproof/dp/B00LO5Z6ZY/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1447357246&sr=8-14&keywords=wide+beam+led+flashlight

I'm assuming occasional use for short periods just while you're docking.

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Michigan boarder

OK, bow lights are out. A hand held could be a good, simple option for now. We never went out at night this past season (first year at this marina, first year on this lake) and it was mainly because my wife was concerned about it being too dark - hard to see pulling in, putting the cover on, picking up the gear, etc. A nice hand held would take care of all of that. Tower lights might be kind of cool though. Now that I think of it, I'm the one that does all that stuff, so I don't know what the problem is.

This "marina" is small, basically a guy's house that is 1.5 miles from me with 20 slips in front of it protected by a seawall that you have to make a narrow left and then right turn through. I/O's and outboards trim up in case they get off from the center, but with my boat if I get 4' either side I'm risking prop damage. I basically have 1 shot at getting in and out, if I'm not on the right line it's into neutral and shoving off of the wall. Since it is his house, he usually kills the lights after 11am or so, unless I text him. But I don't want to have to text him, rather just be able to do my own thing.

post-8942-0-68268300-1421685377_thumb.jp

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jrvs23

If it were me I would go for the tower lights as stated for the larger distribution of light. That said, here's a little outside the box idea, how about a police style adjustable spot mounted right next to you or a quick clamp onto the windshield only when you need it. Then you can put a ton of light right were you want it from a long way away.

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Bill_AirJunky

Holding a spot light and trying to dock the boat is a recipe for disaster, and trying to get someone to hold the spot light for you means the light is never where you want it.

I do it all the time & don't have any problems....even back the boat into the space in the dark. The hand held is just so you can get in the general area. The lights on the dock are for up close while your docking &/or walking around on the dock.

A few years ago I was at the SeaFair hydro races. Some guy in his beautiful new MC with the tower loaded with lights & speakers... had a couple of towels draped over the tower for some reason. Someone accidentally turned the lights on & caught the towels on fire. In a panic he grabbed the towels & flung them off the tower & into the water, flinging little bits of flaming towel pieces all over the boat. Made a helluva disaster. Maybe some of the newer LED lights burn cooler & wouldn't cause the problem.

BTW, cool little protected area for boat slips. Way better than our dock stretching 160' out into the main lake.

Edited by Bill_AirJunky

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RedOwl

Do you use the same slip every time?

If so, we recently installed reflective tape and reflectors to a friend's slip in Northern WI and you'd be amazed at how much they can help with docking - even with limited light. He also has to navigate a rock outcropping/sea wall and we got the owners permission to slap a few extra reflectors on each side of that as well.

I realize this doesn't address your light question - but it is certainly a helpful add-on if your situation allows for it.

Edited by RedOwl

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flapjack

This "marina" is small, basically a guy's house that is 1.5 miles from me with 20 slips in front of it protected by a seawall that you have to make a narrow left and then right turn through.

Neat slip.

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Michigan boarder

Good idea on the tape - yes we do use the same slip every time, keeping the boat on a lift in the slip. The owner is a really cool dude, I'll mention that stuff to him. I was drinking beers a couple of times with him, funny to hear his buddies come over "Hey, it's Mr. Hotshot Marina owner. (then looking at me) You actually pay this guy??" and just giving him a hard time, back and forth. Pretty normal guy, came across a good deal on the place and went for it. It's neat and tidy, and has a great little service room with shower, toilet, etc.

Thanks for the compliments, we love it there. Sometimes we just sit in the boat and enjoy the sun & beers, and don't even crank the boat down.

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WINEGRAPEGROWER

lights on the tower. the bow lights are too parallel with the water and do not reflect back as well as lights on your tower.

Lights on the dock are no good as they blind you as you are trying to trailer to secure your boat.

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Bill_AirJunky

Lights on the dock are no good as they blind you as you are trying to trailer to secure your boat.

Your using the wrong kind of dock lights. Ours are indirect lighting so it lights up the area around it, but your can't actually see the light itself. Hard to see from more than 100' away, but great visibility on & around the dock.

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Nitrousbird

My factory docking lights (with LED bulbs of course) work perfectly for their intention - docking. I've docked in 100% pitch dark, no moon or residual light situations and the docking lights work perfectly.

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Chatty21VLX

I vote led tower lights. They won't put off any heat, and you won't have to cut the hull. You might be able to get by with a battery powered headlamp in the short term, and it's something you should keep in the boat anyway.

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Kalamazoo

I'm actually going to vote bow lights. my friend's got (bright) tower lights...when they're on there's so much reflected light from the dash, boat, etc that it actually makes it harder to see docks, etc at times. sounds confusing, but his lights are pretty bright. I've had led bow lights on several boats and they always worked well.

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Wakesetter67

I'm actually going to vote bow lights. my friend's got (bright) tower lights...when they're on there's so much reflected light from the dash, boat, etc that it actually makes it harder to see docks, etc at times. sounds confusing, but his lights are pretty bright. I've had led bow lights on several boats and they always worked well.

I would have to agree, It's Like driving with your Dome lights on in your car, I'm going to add the 2015 Bow lights on mine this winter, And yes the bugs are horrible.

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Michigan boarder

I've decided to go with the handheld. I really wanted some tower lights or bow lights for the cool factor, but based on these reviews they are not what I need. Plus the handhelds are dirt cheap.

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formulaben

That's a very cool setup...I'm jealous.

If there are other users that might benefit then I would also consider proposing an install of inexpensive solar LEDs in strategic spots; nav lights at the entry way and yellow or red LEDs along the dock lines. The yellow/amber LEDs will attract far less bugs (around 650nm is invisible to most bugs) and red lights have little effect on night vision and attract virtually zero bugs. The owner might even pay for it?

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dwlaker

I'm planning the lighting for my dock right now, which we will finish this spring. Any ideas as to lighting for the dock and decking surface as well as the boat slip are greatly appreciated! Even considering lighting behind the face boards that give a glow under the dock.

Also need to determine what to use for light when docking. The handheld sounds like a very reasonable solution, and more versatile.

Edited by dwlaker

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Bill_AirJunky

I have a pile of these on top of the dock. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0048OXFYM?ref_=cm_sw_r_awd_xSCOwbKJ3GKCX Their going on year 3 now. No failures, other than batteries.

I like the idea of putting some lights under the dock too. Would be a great effect. Especially something colorful.

Do you have power on the dock?

Edited by Bill_AirJunky

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minnmarker

I have a pile of these on top of the dock. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0048OXFYM?ref_=cm_sw_r_awd_xSCOwbKJ3GKCX Their going on year 3 now. No failures, other than batteries.

And they come in red too.

http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Road-Path-Warning-Lights/dp/B0040ZQ7XU/ref=pd_sim_60_6?ie=UTF8&dpID=51fT5o8KmXL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1NJZRAC40NB0K4D6XNW3

I've got similar. The cheaper the better since they will get broken.

Regarding hand held lights - trying to hold a light while steering and working the throttle is good for anyone with three hands. I prefer a LED headlamp worn on top of a cap visor.

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isellacuras

I have docking lights on the bow. They work well for their intended purpose of docking and loading on the trailer. i have a handheld for night surfing and late night lake crossings when needed. Most lights are pretty much useless on the water. I use the handheld for bursts of light. Cycle it on and off but only really use it on a moonless, pitch black night. When there's anything more than a small about of moonlight, I can see better without lights. Have to cover up the center screen with a towel or something tho. I really wish there was a way to dim that screen.

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Bill_AirJunky

And they come in red too.

http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Road-Path-Warning-Lights/dp/B0040ZQ7XU/ref=pd_sim_60_6?ie=UTF8&dpID=51fT5o8KmXL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1NJZRAC40NB0K4D6XNW3

I've got similar. The cheaper the better since they will get broken.

Regarding hand held lights - trying to hold a light while steering and working the throttle is good for anyone with three hands. I prefer a LED headlamp worn on top of a cap visor.

Aren't red lights used for the right side of a river/channel? Seems like that could be confusing on a dock if you didn't have green ones on the other side.

I don't need the handheld for my own dock since it's all lit up already. Really only use it like isellacuras explained.

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