Spot vs. Floodlights

One of the pieces of gear to which we gave a lot of consideration to was a remotely controllable spot light. However, these tend to be somewhat large, complex, and expensive (both to purchase and install).

One of the problems with all of this gear is its positioning. The light source must be positioned where it does not illuminate any of the boat. This includes standing rigging as well as the anchoring gear on the bow. If any of this is lit up with the spot light, the glare will blind you, rendering the light source worse than useless.

For all of these reasons we decided to pass, opting instead for a powerful battery-powered spot light – which has rarely been used.

A summer in Alaska and British Columbia taught us there were situations where some form of more powerful illumination might be helpful. We looked at what the fish boats used, and then purchased a Hella lamp as shown below.


We’re not sure if this is a flood light or a spot light. It has a relatively narrow 18 degree beam. We know it is water proof as it has already seen a lot of spray at its mounting point on our forward “mast”. The unit we installed has a 1000 Watt halogen bulb.


The lighting diagram is shown above. It indicates a theoretical coverage of 1400 meters – almost a mile. We’ve not seen any evidence that it works this well. But we do know that it lights up a wide swatch an 1/8 of a mile ahead, with which we are quite pleased.

This type of lighting is a compromise. If we’re coming into an uncharted anchorage at night because of a delay, that broad headlight affect, in conjunction with radar, is wonderful. However, it does not appear to be adequate for avoiding floating debris – at least that is our current feeling.

A focused spot light might be better for debris watch, but this is a much more costly and complex solution, and one which does not illuminate a wide swatch of anchorage (it requires aiming). So, for our shorthanded purposes, we think this Hella light will get the job done on the rare occasion when we are caught out late in Alaska. And if we need a more focused beam, we have our super handheld unit.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 15, 2007)

2 Responses to “Spot vs. Floodlights”

  1. Alberto Says:

    Hi Steve,
    I tired to find the Hella light you mentioned here, with no success. I’ve noticed as well that the same light is mounted on the new FPB64, so I guess it is still in prodcution. could you please quote the reference article number?
    As well, the super hand held unit is around 500K candles or youve been able to find something more powerful?
    thanks for all,

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Alberto:
    This is an AquaSignal Series 1069 floodlight (1069015).