Cockpit Lighting on Charter

One of the most popular things I’ve written about has been using a string of 12v Christmas lights on inside of the bimini (cable tying to the stainless) to provide just a bit of light in the cockpit.  Whether you’re having dinner, enjoying a glass of wine, or just sitting and talking, it’s nice to have a bit of light to see the faces of those around you . . . not to mention trying to walk or actually eat something.  Thanks, Brittany for sharing your idea (read Windtraveler’s blog).

But when I recently re-posted that article on Facebook, I got inquiries from two people about “what can I use on a charter boat?” and, interestingly enough, a comment from one other about what they do use when they charter.  Yeah, counting on a convenient 12v outlet and then bringing a light string and a bunch of cable ties on vacation isn’t too practical.

Luckily, there are several things that work well.  All use LEDs so will go a long time on a charge or set of batteries, and none require an outlet.  Oh yeah, and they’re all under $15!

  • SoLite — a hanging rechargable light that works off a mini solar panel.  Hang from a convenient location that gets sun with a piece of line or a cable tie.  Takes slightly more space than a light bulb in your luggage — just be sure to remove it when your charter is over!  See on Amazon US (Amazon Canada is expensive and not available on Amazon UK) or read my full review.
  • LED Candle — don’t use a real candle because of the risk of fire and due to the heat it puts out.  But a battery-operated candle puts out just a nice amount of light with no risk of fire.  Just be sure to take enough batteries with you so that you don’t have to spend part of your vacation looking for extras.  See on Amazon US or read my full article on them.
  • HangerDorcy Hanging LED Flashlight/Tent Light — several companies make similar units, this is one that I’ve seen at campgrounds and like.  It’s the dome light that you see in the center of the image at the top of this article.  It’s about the size of an apple, making it perfect for carrying with you.  What you can’t see in that picture is that the light has a flip up hanger on the top (shown in the photo at right) that you can use to hang it from the bimini or a boom bail with a piece of line, carabiner or cable tie.  Puts out more light than the SoLite or most of the LED candles, and cheaper to boot.  Operates on 3 AA batteries.  Again, take spares with you. (NOTE that the product description talks of a magnetic hanger as well but it is no longer included.  Doesn’t matter for using as I’ve described.)  See it at Amazon US  and on Dorcy’s web site (also can be found at some outdoor and big box stores, but not always).
  • And Marjorie Karlsen had this to say when I wrote about the 12v lightsWe don’t own a boat – hopefully someday – so we charter. To light up the cockpit at night we use Coleman micro lanterns that we hang up with a bit of string. They are waterproof, easy to pack and combine torch and lantern all in one.  [There are several styles of Coleman micro lanterns — see them here.]

And the nice thing about all these is that since they are easily portable, you can use them at the table for happy hour, then by the grill while cooking dinner, then back to the table for eating.

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  • Kathy Haslam
    Posted at 09 October 2013 Reply

    We have 2 So-Lites for our cockpit. Love them! If we BBQ after dark Captain hangs them over the grill. Also serves as an extra position light while at anchor.

  • Chris Glenney Lozyniak
    Posted at 09 October 2013 Reply

    One of the best solar lights I have found is called Luci, it is an inflatable solar lantern (easy to pack!) and has two different brightness levels, and also blinks.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 09 October 2013 Reply

      Chris — I’ll have to take a look at those! Thanks for telling me (and everyone else) about them!

    • Tami
      Posted at 03 January 2015 Reply

      Love our Luci! We use it as an all-round white for the dink primarily but Luci goes anywhere

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