Enhancing Visibility At Sea


Sobering fact: you are going to be almost invisible to ships in any sort of breeze. A yacht is just too small to stand out in the waves and their white caps. Radar return, even with a radar reflector, is also hard to pick out of sea clutter. The one thing you can do is do paint the  upper portion of the mast.


Even better than paint  is reflecting tape, like the 3M product we have on Wind Horse’s booms. The red stands out and being high above the waves has a better chance of being seen.

But don’t count on them seeing you.  Keep watch, and stay out of the way of the big guys. And think about an AIS transponder.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 18, 2011)

7 Responses to “Enhancing Visibility At Sea”

  1. chuck Says:

    Steve – What is the product number of the 3M reflective tape that you mention you use on Wind Horse? Thanks Chuck

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Howdy Chuck:
    Not sure of the part number for the 3M reflecting tape but you can buy it through McMaster-Carr in the US.

  3. John Poparad Says:

    I think that red and green are the most common color blind colors. They appear gray.

    Perhaps a reflective yellow would be better.

    Also, you need to consider if a large solid area is better than four stripes. Stripes tend to break up a shape.

  4. Geoff Collins Says:

    Is this always desirable?

  5. Steve Dashew Says:

    Howdy Geoff:
    On balance yes. Even in Pirate Alley, now the W. Indian Ocean, we would rather be seen by the good guys.

  6. Hafsteinn Saemundsson Says:

    It has been mandatory in Iceland for about 20 years to have a 1 meter of this reflecting tape on the upper part of the mast.It was demanded by the coastguard to aid them in locating yachts.
    Hafsteinn Saemundsson

  7. Bob V. Ol.Wa. Says:

    Hello Steve ,
    Viking makes their new liferafts in fluorescent yellow (norm en471)
    which enhances visibility in bad weather and foggy conditions.
    This might be a better choise of color.
    Bob , Ol.Wa.