Thursday, August 15, 2013

New LED Running Lights for the Bow

The failure of a lite bulb in the running lites aboard s/v C'est la Vie led to Jeff and Anne upgrading to LED lites.  And then there's that 5200...
Last fall during our migration from North Carolina to Florida our port forward running light burned out.  I purchased what I thought to be the correct replacement bulb, but the new bulb was either too large, too high a wattage, or both.  The result was a melted lens and damaged socket (I do realize this could have been much worse.)

Through a bit of internet searching I found some tear drop shaped led replacements made by SeaSense and purchased them last December.

The new LED running lights

I went back to seek a link for the lights we purchased and they have vanished from the SeaSense website, but can be found on ebay.  This is unfortunate since the fixtures were an accurate enough match to C'est la Vie's old lights that the replacement was relatively easy, but I'm skipping over the removal of the old lights.

A copious ring of ling cured 5200 surrounding the old light fixture 

The person installing the existing lights did not hold back on the 5200.  I feared the lights may be difficult to remove without marring the exterior hull paint.  For this reason, I began my extraction efforts sweating away in the anchor locker scraping, prying, grunting, and cursing at the elastic gobs of 5200.

using Anne's paddle board as a work platform to access the running lights

When additional efforts in the anchor locker grew futile, I launched Anne's paddle board and used it as a work platform from which to launch my external attack on the bedded lights.  After one lap around the fixtures with a razor knife the fixture parted ways with the hull.  Success.  The starboard side came free with similar effort.

Successful extraction of old fixture.  Now back to scraping 5200.

Some additional work went into removing the surface 5200. When test fitting the new lights, I was elated to discover that the port side matched down to the pilot holes.  The starboard side took a bit of sanding and drilling out the pilot holes to correct minor misalignment.

Anne crawled into the anchor locker and I remained on the board as we worked together to bolt in place the new fixtures.  Rather that replacing the 5200, we used butyl tape to bed the new lights.

Successful test of the new bow running lights.

Shortly after installing the fixtures afternoon thunderstorms stalled our efforts.  I returned this morning and wired the new lights.  C'est la Vie is now legal and two fixtures closer to 100% LED.  I think the deck spot light and the engine compartment lights are the only incandescent bulbs remaining on the boat.
[Editor's note: C'est la Vie was dismasted on July 5 off the Frying Pan Shoals.  Jeff and Anne are fine, and C'est la Vie was able to motor under her own power to a safe harbor, where whe is currently hauled out.  You can read more about this here, herehere, and here.  There are some important lessons to be learned from this - I encourage you to read Jeff's account of the event.]


  1. Thanks for posting another one of our projects!

    FYI - The links in the [Editor's Note] are not working.

    Per the dismasting... We are discussing the failure of critical hardware with the manufacturer of the part. We are the second boat that I know of where failure of the part lead to a dismasting. To the best of my knowledge the manufaturer has contacted everyone who purchased the part and offered a replacement. I cannot elaborate further at this time, but hope to share the entire story at a future date.

    At this time we do plan to repair C'est la Vie and continue with our travels.

    We really enjoy the site and all the contributors.

    1. Thanks Jeff for the additional information and the kind words.

      (Sorry about the links - problem fixed)

      And an editorial comment: It doesn't seem to me that replacement of the part that brought down and caused the loss of the rig is an adequate remedy...


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