Light ‘Em Up
Cost: $300 to $3,000 per light
Today, you can’t go to a marina at night without seeing streams of blues, greens, and bright whites shooting out from under the transoms of all manner of vessels.
No wonder. Underwater lights provide eye candy and attract sea life. But because they come in different styles, such as light-emitting diode (LED), halogen, xenon, and metal halide, you need to decide which is right for your boat. Since there are $100 LEDs and $3,000 LEDs, it’s best to start by working with a reputable underwater light company. Two of the most popular are Underwater Lights and OceanLED. Both offer a dizzying array of systems—even strobes.
You’ll also need to figure out if you want surface-mount or through-hull lights. Surface mounts are usually seen on boats under 35 feet and attach to the hull with the cabling inside and above the waterline. They can be serviced and repaired when the boat is out of the water, which makes them attractive for lift-kept and trailerable vessels.
For through-hull lights, a hole is drilled in the hull and a sealed light is installed under the water. This style is often seen on boats above 35 feet LOA. It’s recommended that anytime you’re looking to install a through-hull light, you have a yard handle the work.
As one who has underwater lights, I say you can’t go wrong purchasing them. Whether you want mood lighting or an aquarium around your boat, they’re an attractive and valuable option. One manufacturer told me that he’s had customers install lights prior to putting a boat up for sale because of their ability to—literally—lure people to the boat.
It seems like underwater lights are here to stay.
—Capt. Patrick Sciacca
Cost: $85 to $600
How old are your batteries? The service life of a flooded-acid marine unit, even a good one (with a properly calibrated charger), is likely to be five years or less under heavy, deep-cycle usage. Gell-cells may be even less. So the bad news is that the batteries onboard your boat might be a little tired. The good news, however, is that there are now some super-gutsy batteries on the market from manufacturers like Optima, West Coast Battery, and others that perform extremely well and promise service cycles that go well beyond the ordinary.
West Coast’s Odyssey battery is a good example. Not only can it function as a cranking battery (with a momentary cranking output in excess of 2,250 amps), it can also perform as a deep-cycle house battery that is reportedly capable of sustaining as many as 400 charge/discharge cycles to 80 percent depth of charge. Moreover, West Coast offers two-, three-, or four-year warranties on its batteries, depending on the model, and says that many units have logged service lives of up to ten years.
Odysseys perform like this for two reasons. One is the lead plates that inhabit the rugged case: They’re made of 99.9 percent pure lead (not lead alloy) pressed thin to boost plate surface area. Then there are the internal cells, which are welded in place to resist vibration. And finally, there are the compressed AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) separators between the plates, which are compressed by about 28 percent to make them stronger and more vibration-resistant.
Best of all, these new age batteries are not prohibitively expensive. They cost around 30 percent more than most mainstreamers, depending on where you buy them.
—Capt. Bill Pike
This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.