Testing LED Spotlight Configurations On The Forward Mast

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Some years ago we installed a 1000 watt 230 VAC Aqua Signal flood light on the forward mast. It proved useful on occasion for checking sea-state at night, and maybe once or twice a year looking over anchorages in the dark. When Todd Rickard and Mark Fritzer visited IBEX last fall they ran into a company selling high intensity LED spots and floods called Rigid Industries. They were impressed, so we decided to give a set of these a test on the new forward mast on Wind Horse. That’s Chris Martin of Martin Engineering doing the install.

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We ended up with a pair of their M-Series D2 diffused and four of the M Series spots. Each of these six LED lights takes 28 watts, or about 1/5th the total that the Aqua Signal AC system required.


The two diffused models are on one circuit, and the other four spots on a second. The diffused are turned on here. The sign in the distance, barely visible, is 500 feet /153m away. The corner of the dock is about 30 feet/9m from the lights. Note that only the very tip of the anchor roller assembly is illuminated, so night vision is not unduly impacted by reflections.


Now we have the four spots on as well. The sign in the distance is nicely illuminated. The reflections on back from headstay and wiring will be dealt with later.

What we like about this system:

  • Low power draw, so useful at anchor if we want it on for long periods without the engine being on.
  • More focused output, less reflection of the tip of the bow and anchor roller system.
  • Cleaner looking.

On balance we think this is a slight improvement. However, the light output is less, and only experience using it in the real world will give us the final answer. For those of you more challenged in the AC power department, this is a definite option.

There is another option, one which we used on almost all passages in pre LED and powerful spot light days. Go with a “traveling moon”. Plan your passage to coincide with a full (or nearly full) moon. Not only do you have great visibility, even coral will sometimes show up in bright moonlight, but you can get lines of position with the moon and brighter stars and planets. This moon was shot from the deck in Arizona, on January 6th, using a Canon F4 500mm lens with a 2x doubler, on a Canon EOS 1D Mk 4 body, hand held at ISO 200, shutter speed 1/750th, F11.



Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 6, 2012)

8 Responses to “Testing LED Spotlight Configurations On The Forward Mast”

  1. Patrick S Lasswell Says:

    A buddy of mine worked on a project for some Alaska fishermen operating out of Dutch Harbor a few years ago. Their spots needed to be on all the time and one of their problems was salt spray boiling off on the light covers and leaving a cake deposit that needed to be cleaned.

    I’m not sure how much of that you saw with your old spotlights, but the lower energy usage should result in less salt buildup on the lenses. Also, anytime you can use less power in exposed fittings, risk of failure is reduced.

  2. D Tew Says:

    On the other hand, here in the Northeast US we are having trouble with the red/yellow/green LED traffic lights being blocked out by driving snow and ice because the lights are so cool they don’t melt whatever builds up on them.

  3. Dave Says:

    Thanks so much for trying the lights! One thing I wanted to point out from you photos is the actual lights you have mounted. Looks like you have 2 dually D2’s with a diffusion lens and 4 Dually D2’s with a specter driving beam optic. The D2’s are made more for scene lighting than distance. The Dually (not D2) with a hybrid spot optic is actually made more for distance. The Dually will production about 40% more distance in a spot pattern that any of the D2’s you have mounted. Still looks awesome the way it is, but I wanted you to know that their is another option in the D-Series family that gets more distance.
    Thank you guys a ton for using the lights!!!!!!
    Dave (Rigid Industries)

  4. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Dave:
    We chose the diffusion lights to give us better coverage in close under the bow.

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  7. Kevin Vasereno Says:

    How have those LED lights worked out? I bought a couple of 10″ RI bars, trying to get rid of the huge draw from the 1kW Aquasignal. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.

    Just wondering if you were pleased, and how they compare to the halogen.



  8. Steve Dashew Says:

    They seem to work well, especially considering the power draw. But, one has died and a second is flickering. Not sure if a wiring issue or quality control on Rigid’s part. It will be a few weeks before we get to checking further.