Originally Posted by newportfisher
Nate, and others that leave the dock in the dark, do you have a big light on the bow to illuminate the water or do you just putt along slowly and keep and eye out? I'm always worried about crab gear.
Whilst running in the dark, hitting crab gear is the least of our worries. There are things much scarier (and more difficult to see) that one could hit... Things that probably don't show up on radar. For example; logs, tree stumps, tsunami debris, tow cables between barges and tugs, abandoned drifting commercial nets, sea lions, sun fish, sharks, whales, I could go on... We've hit at least three of the things mentioned above, all during day light hours, all at speeds above 15 knots
. Varying outcomes, but never stranded or requiring a tow (knock on wood)... Damage anywhere from requiring a replacement 'pair of shorts' to a broken trim tab and a small ding in our prop (big proponent of using high quality stainless steel props offshore). Others we know haven't been as fortunate, specifically those with duo-prop outdrives or dual inboard counter-rotating straight shafts (the floating/partially submerged commercial net hit with counter-rotating props was especially damaging)
Over the last 11 years we've hit crab gear a few times in the dark at varying speeds (anywhere from idle to
), both sport and commercial gear. Results were anywhere from 'thump-deflect-what-was-that' to the rope/buoys sliding up the skeg, wrapping around the lower unit, and dragging the trap for a bit as we tried to figure out why we were bogging down & struggling to stay on plane
. In the cases of catching/dragging the crab gear, we stopped, shut down, raised the outboard, saw what the issued was as the rope/buoys slid out from between the transom and lower unit, and slipped back into the water... No damage & we were back on our way every time... Whenever we checked, the crab pot still appeared to be attached, including the commercial one we drug for a ways the first time.
Maybe we're lucky, or it's just an outboard thing, but we've never had the rope get wrapped up in the prop or cause any damage.
As far as running lights are concerned, we don't have a permanently mounted light bar, but have tried various spot lights and remote spot lights. So far in every case the reflected light and glare has made the situation worse instead of better. Maybe we're just too low to the water with the light source and need an elevated LED light bar? For now in-the-dark we run with nav lights only, radar & GPS on (overlay), all hands on deck, heads up, eyes up. Captain focuses on the instruments, crew is on look out forward first, and then everywhere else. Main concern is avoiding moving and stationary objects (things that are 100% avoidable). Risk of hitting submerged/partially submerged objects is always there, dark or not.