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Old    norcal_99            07-05-2003, 9:38 PM Reply   
Are they illegal?

The reason I ask is on the Fourth of July I took my family out in the boat to go watch the fireworks at Mandeville tip in the delta. Well there were about 5,000 boats out there. When the fireworks ended around 11:00 pm I turned on my tower lights and started heading back. When I was entering Franks tract a water sheriff turned on his lights and siren and pulled along side of me opened his window and started yelling rudely, “Turn off your tower lights, They’re illegal” So I yelled back, “No, I’m not turning them off and endangering the lives of my family with all these boats around. Don't be a jackass. I need them to find my way back” After that he just slammed his window shut and sped off, and I continued with them on.

So are they illegal or not? And if they are why do they sell them?

Old     (greatdane)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-05-2003, 10:32 PM Reply   
Ya, tower lights are illegal (from what I hear), while hand held spot lights are fine.

BTW, I was out there too. I really enjoyed the fireworks. And, I am picking up a mega spot light for the boat tomorrow.
Old    smwakeboarder            07-05-2003, 11:56 PM Reply   
thats dumb is there any good reason for them being illegal, i mean do they hurt anybody.
Old     (ryanbush11)      Join Date: May 2003       07-06-2003, 10:14 AM Reply   
yea, they blind everyone else on the water
Old     (zipe)      Join Date: Mar 2002       07-06-2003, 7:21 PM Reply   
I was out at Mandeville as well, great show and great time this year.

I also got pulled over last year for the tower lights being on at night. The Sheriff was pretty cool when I told him that I had no idea. I had never heard of this on any other lake that I had been on. He explained the reasoning behind the law. When you are approaching an oncoming boat, the tower and docking lights essentially kill the night vision of the oncoming driver. Since most lakes have a 5 mph speed limit after sunset, it is almost never enforced since visibility at 5 mph is not so critical. On the Delta however, there is no speed limit after dark other than "safe navigational speed", according to the Coast Guard. He said that it is basically like a car coming at you with its high beams on, you loose your longer range vision because your eyes have to readjust to the brighter light.

Made perfect sense to me once he explained it to me. Once you have a boat coming at you with lights on and you are both doing 30 mph, you will understand. There is a reason we have navigational lights and the anchor light on while underway.

The 4th was pretty crazy and a ton of boats. Luckily Rene, sounds like the Sheriff had bigger fish to fry that night. And you ask why they still sell them...Ever been stuck at a dock at night with no lights and it is pitch black trying to get your's and four other boats out of the water? It's lots of fun. Thats why I have mine now.

BTW, I also found out the hard way that if a Sheriff boat has its lights on and is stopped or tied up to another boat doing a "safety check", there is a 5 mph speed limit within 200' in all directions.

Old     (greatdane)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-06-2003, 7:28 PM Reply   
Shawn, that makes perfect sense to me now that you mention it. It would blind the other guy. In fact, once I looked back at a boat that had a spot light on me and sure enough I could not see a thing for a while. A little change in perspective helps with this one.

Can anyone recommend a spot light?

It looked very useful for pointing at the shore line to see corners. Glad the guy in front of me had one!

I would like it to be in a case for storage on the boat, but I guess I could always buy a separate case.
Old     (wakinwestcoast)      Join Date: Jan 2003       07-06-2003, 8:58 PM Reply   
blind everyone else? where did that comment come from?
Old     (pmpstress2)      Join Date: Jan 2003       07-06-2003, 11:19 PM Reply   
I too was out at Mandaville and left shortly after 11:30pm heading back to Discovery Bay. I don't have tower lights, but I invested in a hand held spot light for the ride back. We too were yelled at by the sheriff. They were on their loud speakers yelling at us along with several other boats that all had the spot lights. We turned off our light temporaly, but could not see we turned it back on and made it home safely. I do understand the blinding of the oncoming boats because the spot lights coming at us were pretty bright.

The 2001-2002 California Boating...A Safe Guide for Boating... does not say anything about tower lights or hand held spot lights. It states "All moving boats must show navigation lights between sunset and sunrise, and at times when it is hard to see very far. Personal watercraft are prohibited from operating at night." Then continues on about the location of the lights.

I think there is a grey area when it comes down to the light situation and it would also depend on your attitude at the time of the situation. Each Sheriff is different and I've delt with te cools ones and not so cool ones.
Old    snowdog            07-07-2003, 12:14 AM Reply   
I have asked a few sheriffs and USCG officers about this! Multiple Tower Lights are illegal, they violate the navigation laws.

The loophole is that you are allowed to have ONE "Masthead light" in-use while driving.( has designed a new 5 light bar that uses this loophole. They have 2 forward spread lights (technically illegal), 1 forward "masthead" light (legal) and 2 rear spot lights (technically illegal). The lights are switched separately (3 switches) so that you can choose to have ONE light on at a time, thus complying with navigational laws.

Check it out:

Old     (greatdane)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-07-2003, 12:58 AM Reply   
Snowdog, how many candle power is that one light?

The handheld spots are commonly 2 million candle power.
Old     (greatdane)      Join Date: Feb 2001       07-07-2003, 1:01 AM Reply   
Interesting definition of the MastHead light.

"Masthead light" means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel. [Inld]
Old     (sunsport)      Join Date: Sep 2002       07-07-2003, 2:35 PM Reply   
I didn't see where it said it is illegal to have extra lights. . .

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