If you’re looking for just a little bit of light in the cockpit, or as you’re boarding the boat, small solar lights are great. They charge themselves during the day and automatically light up the area when it gets dark.
We loved them when we were ashore or on a friend’s boat at sunset, both because we’d automatically have a bit of light when we were climbing out of the dinghy and because they made it easier to find our boat in a crowded anchorage or mooring field. We think it also made our boat more visible to other dinghies and fishing boats who didn’t always see a masthead anchor light.
The first set of “solar yard lights” that we bought in Mexico ten years ago were expensive and didn’t last very long — and we had to create our own mounting system (and we lost two of the lights in a wicked thunderstorm when our mounts failed). But we were hooked on the concept and knew that someday someone would make solar lights that were actually designed to be used on a boat.
A couple of weeks ago, one of The Boat Galley’s sponsors — Steve at Sea Dog Boating Solutions — contacted me about the solar lights he’s now carrying. Now, I know that you can get the cheapie lights at Walmart and just plan to replace them periodically — for us, every couple months as they quickly rusted out in a salt water environment and every year (sometimes sooner) if you’re in fresh water. And you still have to come up with some way to mount them where you want them — not always the easiest thing, we learned.
The Solar Kandle Rail Lights are more expensive at just under $20 each. But they are so much better and will last so much longer!
- Mounting system is included and you can put them on just about any standard 1″ or 1.25″ stainless railing or stanchion or any other pipe or wood dowel
- Easy installation on any vertical, horizontal or angled rail — no cutting, drilling, wiring or electrical hookups. Just tightening Phillips-head bolts.
- Interlocking spring loaded swivel bracket allows simple 360° positioning & locking of light
- Positioning arm pivots up & down up to 90° for angled stanchions
- Virtually nothing that will rust — light is heavy duty plastic and the nuts and bolts are stainless.
- The light will turn on automatically at night and stay lit for 5 to 8 hours (assuming a full day of sunlight; light will turn off sooner with less sunlight)
- Manual ON/OFF switch for nighttime navigation — this is a biggie, it’s usually hard to turn yard lights off as the switch is inaccessible . . . and sometimes there isn’t a switch!
- Rechargeable battery can be replaced if needed over time (AA Ni-MH) — the battery is the reason most solar lights fail and being able to replace it means the light will last far longer.
Says Steve, “The lights are holding up well over time. This is our second year using them on our boat and the lights still work well and look great.”