The French philosopher Voltaire said that “common sense is not so common” and some days I tend to think that’s an accurate assessment. For example, a discussion (disagreement) took place on Trinidad’s morning radio net last week where one particular boater asserted himself that vessels on a mooring ball need not display an all-round white anchor light at night as those at anchor are required to. Putting the regulations aside for a moment, that just strikes me, and most of the other boaters here, as ludicrous. Were a ship to be making their way through a crowded harbor on a moonless night, just how would they be able to tell which boats had deployed their own anchor and which ones had made themselves fast to one that had been previously set by someone else (a mooring)? The obvious answer is they wouldn’t. We don’t display an anchor light on ZTC because someone tells us that we have to. We do so to prevent other boats from running into us at night!
Equally silly, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, instead of the all-round white light that regulations mandate, some boaters choose to display either a flashing strobe light on their masthead, or solid or flashing colored lights. I assume they feel that these lights make their vessel stand out amongst the dozens of other boats in the harbor, and they’re right, they do, but not in a good way. Not to mention the fact that strobe lights are extremely annoying to your neighbors, they indicate that a vessel is in distress. Red and green lights also have important safety functions, being used for both navigational markers and running lights. So, rules aside, why would I want my boat to be confused with any of those? Seriously guys, if you really want your boat to stand out, string up some Christmas lights. At this time of year at least, not many will complain.