Monday, November 12, 2012

Let there be Light!

One thing that surprised us about the Caribbean was how fast it gets dark at night.  They don't recognize daylight savings time in most of the islands so it's light's out every night at 6pm.  And when I say "light's out" I mean it is black. as. night.  Lots of people joke about "cruiser's midnight" being 9pm and as corny as it is, it's true.  I'm of the opinion that this early darkness - and consequential early light - has a lot to do with it.  No matter how hard you try to fight it, you're body clock just starts winding down when the sun goes away.

As such, cockpit lighting is something that we consider essential; the cockpit being the area we spend most of our time on our boat, especially in the evening hours when beer and wine taste their best.  Cockpit lighting can be tricky.  A lucky few have light fixtures hard-wired into their dodgers or biminis, but they are the exception.  Most string up some temporary solution using either a kerosene lantern, headlamp, or battery powered lamp to lighten things up.  Not us.  We used DC powered LED automotive Christmas lights (the kind you'd plug into a cigarette lighter).  I bought a couple of strings before we left on our first boat because a) I love decorating for Christmas and b) I thought they might be useful.  Useful they were!  Turns out, these lights are the perfect cockpit lighting solution, and not just during the holidays.  They give off a pretty light, use trace amounts of energy and add a beautiful ambience to boot.  We leave them up 24/7 and all we need to do is plug them in* and we're good to glow (yep, I just typed that).
Scott rigged these up last night and they look beautiful, don't you think?  What is your cockpit lighting solution?  Has anyone else out there tried LED Christmas lights?

*We love DC outlets and always install more than the boat comes with.  On Asante we installed one in the cockpit (and five others elsewhere) because we found it so useful on our first boat.  We also get DC chargers for everything that we possibly can.


Troy and Deana Jones said...

We bought a string of solar LED lights (the kind in the clear tube) at Home Depot in St. Thomas. They come with their own little solar panel which we attached to the bimini. I think I will get another strand when we make it back there.

By the way, have you ever tried to prove that you're not a robot? I can't seem to read the letters, it always take me several tries. Maybe I'm part robot. :)

Windtraveler said...

@Troy & Deana - Those sound VERY cool!! A mini solar panel? Neato. That's good to know!
As for the robot comment, I hear you - I always have a hard time with those stupid captcha things too. Unfortunately, if I don't make people prove they are not robots, I get HUNDREDS (and I mean HUNDREDS) of spam comments and it is super annoying. So us half robots will have to learn to live in the 'in-between'.

Robert Salnick said...

Not including the soloar powered ones (a great idea), how do you string the power wire so that it looks
o installed
o like it is not haywired
o more or less invisible
o not a tripping hazard?

That is, I guess, where is your power outlet and how did you string the power feed to the lites?

s/v Eolian

(also part robot)

Windtraveler said...

Robert - the wire is run up through our bimini structure. There are zero lines on the floor and we have a DC power outlet right by the companionway so the "power chord" runs along the cabin top. The power chord piece of the string is removable so we just leave the lights up on the bimini part and plug in the DC plug when we want them on. No mess, not haywire. Hard to explain but it works :)

boatbaby said...

Coming in late as we research some cockpit lighting options... during the daytime when the plug in not plugged in to the 12v outlet, is it just danging there? I wonder about long term in the tropics and corrosion if it's hanging out there. We have a similar set up with the plug, and I love the idea of these lights, so you are my guinea pigs. Let me know how it holds up.

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