Mailport May 2019 Issue

Sailing Navlight Alert; Honda Genset Recall

The U.S. Coast Guard has determined that many navigation lights being used on sailboats do not meet the basic requirements for these lights, making them less visible to nearby ships.

Practical Sailor compared various LED mastlights in the February 2010 issue. All complied with the angular requirements for sailing vessels.

In mid-March, the Coast Guard’s Inspections and Compliance Directorate published Marine Safety Alert 02-19, “Not all navigation lights are created equal,” to assist all mariners in understanding the difference between navigation lights used on power driven vessels and those used on sailing vessels.

Navigation lights intended for use on power driven vessels may be different from navigation lights intended for use on sailing vessels. Although the horizontal arc of visibility is the same for all lights, the vertical divergence (i.e. vertical arc of visibility) requirements for lights on vessels under sail are larger to accommodate greater heeling. Navigation lights that claim compliance with the navigation rules may meet the vertical visibility requirements for a power driven vessel, but they may not comply with the vertical visibility standards for sailing vessels.

Manufacturer labeling may not clearly indicate that the lights are designed for use on power-driven vessels only. In some cases, you’ll have to contact the manufacturer or search for this detail in the specification sheets to determine whether the light is approved for sailboats. Most brand-name lights marketed for use on sailboats do meet the vertical angle requirements, according to the Coast Guard.

Honda Generator Recall

Honda has issued a recall for several models of its popular EU2200 series portable generators, often used on boats. According to Honda, it has received 19 reports of fuel leaking from the fuel valve. No injuries have been reported, but Honda is urging owners to immediately stop using the recalled generators and contact a local authorized Honda Power Equipment service dealer to schedule a free repair.

The generators were sold February 2018 through February 2019 Owners can contact Honda toll-free at 888-888-3139 or online at and click on “Recalls and Updates” for more information.

Comments (5)

It would seem that simple solutions are available. Either the producers could simply state whether they comply with both power and sail, or the USCG could publish those Nav lights that comply with whichever. How about a little simple "good faith" disclosure.

Posted by: Capt Chetco | May 19, 2019 10:18 PM    Report this comment

Why rely on a magazine to publish specifications that are readily available from the official source? The COLREGS should be in every sailor's library. Download them directly from the US Coast Guard site.

Horizontal and vertical sectors of lights on sailing vessels are covered in Annex I.

See also the USCG notice 1015 regarding "boat lights" that don't meet the specifications for nav lights.

Again, straight from the source, and good reading for sailors.

Posted by: Cap'n Pete | May 12, 2019 8:39 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps someone at Practical Sailor could assist its readers by publishing the USCG requirement for the vertical angle for sail boat nav lights, and advise us if there is a relaible method to physically determine if our existing nav lights meet the required angle.

Posted by: Seawindsailor | May 12, 2019 12:44 PM    Report this comment

I'd guess that the Coast Guard doesn't publish a list of lights that it thinks might not comply with the rule because there are potentially 100, 1000, 10,000, or an infinite number of lights that don't comply. To measure the light output, in lumens, at a specified distance at various degrees of heel and pitch is indeed expensive. The companies that actually go to the expense of getting that certification certainly publish it. Read the fine print on the packaging.

My interpretation of the article is more along the lines of "just because a vendor shows up at a sailboat show doesn't mean that the lights they're selling are compliant with USCG regulations for sailboats." There can be a difference between "marking" and "marketing".

Yes, it pains us to pay extra for things with "Marine" on the label, but SOMETIMES it actually means something.


Posted by: Cap'n Pete | May 12, 2019 9:53 AM    Report this comment

So why doesn't the Coast Guard publish a list of the lights that it thinks might not comply with the rule? How are people who buy these lights supposed to figure this out? It is probably a bit tricky to actually measure the light output, in lumens, at a specified distance from the lights, at various degrees of heel, pitch, and visibility. The article says that "Most brand-name lights marketed for use on sailboats do meet the vertical angle requirements, according to the Coast Guard." but that says that you don't know, even if it is marked as complying. This article just causes people to worry.

At least the Honda note has a link to a website that may have the model numbers of the recalled engines.

Posted by: rxc | May 11, 2019 11:17 AM    Report this comment

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