Paddling at night - what lights to use?

1 week 2 hours ago - 1 week 2 hours ago #33073 by MCImes
Well, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere the daylight saving time change happened last weekend which means its dark before 5:00 until March. My paddling will not be deterred though - I have paddled in the dark for years and love it, but typically on quiet and small bodies of water where a kayak fisherman was the only obstacle around.
Now, living on a small harbor, there is occasional small boat traffic and I should probably make myself easily visible as to not be run over.

Has anyone on here found reliable waterproof lights? Im really looking for 2 types:
1- A white light that is on at all times. This could be like a pencil flare type that mounts to the deck, or a button type that clips to your PFD. (I can epoxy a mounting bracket to the deck if needed). Ease of use (clip or easy mount) and battery life being most valuable

2- a 'SOS' flashing light that is only used in emergencies. Brightness, reliability, and battery life would be the valuable features here.

I've tried a few different 'waterproof lights' in the past, but few have survived very long. Just wondering if anyone here has had good success with marine lights.


Current Boats: Old Fenn XT, Stellar SR g1
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen0
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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6 days 21 hours ago #33075 by robin.mousley
I like this one, I mount it on the back deck at night. Haven't used a flashing light.

The suction cap is pretty good, but I tape it down with duct tape anyway.


Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Wavehugger

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5 days 12 hours ago - 5 days 12 hours ago #33079 by Jordan
I tend to use this style of bike light, and then just replace when they stop working. They're usually £2 a pair, so relatively cheap to replace when they inevitably stop working after a few months.

I usually wear my Mocke PFD and attach the white light on to the left shoulder strap facing forward and set to constantly on. The red light I attach to the right shoulder strap, facing backwards and set to flashing mode. 

Haven't been hit by a boat yet, and we paddle in a harbour/ estuary and occasionally when conditions allow, in the open ocean, but close to the shore. 

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5 days 8 hours ago #33080 by mcnye1
The rescue strobe part of the equation is easy.  West Marine carries a wide variety of small strobes designed to be attached to your PFD.  I would avoid the ones that are water activated because they will activate whenever you dump even if you do not need help.

Proper lighting for the boat is prescribed by the USCG Regulations and/or COLREGS.  The USCG Regs ( ) cover US inland waters and the COLREGS ( ) cover international waters, although in this case both are identical.  The only legal way to light your ski is to display the same lights as a sailboat (red/green forward and white aft) or to have a flashlight ready to illuminate in sufficient time to avoid a collision.  Personally I use a small waterproof LED flashlight attached to my PFD.  I do not like to have the light on all the time because it destroys my night vision.  On the water at night I find that I can hear and see other boats long before they get close to me, so I have time to shine my light at them.

I strongly advise against using any other lighting configuration because on the water, certain light configurations have very specific meanings.  The idea of a deck mounted 360 degree light is not good because that is the configuration for a vessel at anchor.  The idea of using a flashing red bike light is really bad because many red navigation buoys have flashing red lights.  It is possible that another boater could mistake your flashing red for a red channel marker, which could put him aground.

If you want to really do it right, take a look at the Navisafe Lights.  You would need one with red/green sectors on the bow and one with an aft white sector on the stern.
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4 days 4 hours ago #33083 by Epicpaddler
I use the same light as Robin. In the States it's this one.

It meets the US requirements for kayaking at night. It's bright as long as you don't look at it it won't destroy your night vision. I'd prefer traditional running lights, but this at least allows other vessels to see me. I try to stay out of their path regardless.

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3 days 14 hours ago - 3 days 14 hours ago #33084 by Watto

Suction mount included, light just screws into it. I ditch the lower mount above. Constant not flashing however is brilliant. Keep thread lubricated! I leave the suction cap on the boat and just screw in the light when I paddle in the dark. Forget to to keep lubricated (over a summer) and thread rusts up. 

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3 days 11 hours ago - 3 days 10 hours ago #33085 by Fath2o
Hey Marcus, Ca. only requires you to carry a handheld flashlight to display when necessary to show your position and/or avoid a collision. You probably already know that. A hull mounted white light is supposed to be visible from 360 degrees so, technically, needs to be above your head. The only potential problem with the all around white light is you can be mistaken for an anchored vessel. Any light obviously is better than no light.
As far as a strobe light goes, there is an option of having a DSC VHF radio with a built in strobe light. Automatically turns on when submerged. Nice thing abut paddling in harbor is 5 mph speed limit. Less chance of being run over. At harbor entrance and outside whole different story. Seen many large power and sail boats with no lights.
I even did CPR on a guy in a flooded boat that plowed into a mooring bouy doing around 30 mph at night. He didn't make it. He was DOI. Be careful out there.

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