Jury-Rigged Stern Light

Today we set about to find a solution for our missing stern light. Two days ago while we were walking in town, another sailboat trying to dock near our boat lost control in the wind and current. It never hit the hull of our boat, but its rigging got caught up on several items mounted atop the arch over our cockpit (which sticks out beyond our transom a bit). We lost our TV antenna, anemometer, and stern light. Also, a spare VHF antenna mounted on the arch had a piece broken off. Out of all these, we were most concerned about jury-rigging a stern light before we set off again.

The only thing remaining from the old stern light (a really nice LED light I installed just before we left Maryland in the fall of 2016) was the back part of its housing. It was cracked in several places, so I super-glued the cracks thinking I might be able to use it as part of a new temporary light fixture.

The back part of the old stern light housing. The left side of it was worse off than the right side, but the holes needed to mount it to the arch remained intact.

There is only one hardware store on North Bimini and it was closed on the weekend. We could see through the window however that it had a small assortment of boat stuff in addition to regular hardware. We waited patiently by the door today until the proprietor came along around 11AM and opened up. They didn’t have any stern lights but did have an “all around” white anchor light made for power boats. Its advertised visibility was 2 miles, which meets one of the requirements for a stern light. It also was small enough that I could mount it on the remnant of the old stern light housing, greatly simplifying the attachment to our aluminum arch.

The new light we found at the only local hardware store. It is a 12 volt “all around” light in a style typically used as an anchor light for a power boat.
Here’s how I mounted the new light to the old housing. Drilled two holes in the bottom of the housing such that the light would stand straight vertically and leave room for a screwdriver to get to the screw holes on the back of the old housing to mount it to the arch.

A stern light also must have an “arc of visibility” of 135 degrees, so I had to construct the jury-rig to block out the part of the new “all around” light that’s not supposed to show. One side of the old stern light housing was still mostly intact so it provided a guide as to how much light needed to be blocked on each side. I had a scrap piece of teak trim which I cut into two pieces and attached to each side of the old bracket. Because the new light was a little taller than the old housing, I had to make sure the new light-blocking “sides” extended all the way to the top of the new light. The stern light is only supposed to shine aft (not forward). The existing aluminum mounting bracket on the arch, which luckily was not torn off, blocks all the light from this jury-rig that would improperly shine towards the front of the boat.

Light-blocking “sides” cut from some scrap teak. The piece of teak on the left also helps reinforce the broken part of the old plastic housing. The aluminum mounting plate on the arch blocks all the light that would shine out through the holes in the back of the housing. It may not be exactly 135 degrees of arc, but it’s close.

Next we mounted the new light and connected the wires. It works!

Jury-rigged stern light mounted in place.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

wp-puzzle.com logo