Dazzling tunnel lights, impassable towpaths, a crafty tipple, a reader’s recipe for happiness
AM I ALONE in finding that the LED tunnel lamps which are becoming increasingly popular on canal boats are often far too dazzling for boaters coming in the opposite direction? To navigate a tunnel safely and comfortably, one’s eyes need to adjust to the darkness. Being dazzled by an oncoming tunnel light completely destroys ones night vision, and, given the slow speeds of canal boats and hence the long approach time of boats coming in the opposite direction, there is a danger of sustaining permanent sight damage.
Unlike car headlamps, there is no dip facility on tunnel lamps, and also there is no sharp cut-off at the top of the beam. This means that bright lamps will be dazzling even if they are angled down.
Traditional tunnel lights give a wide beam in order to illuminate the arch of the roof and the tunnel sides immediately ahead of the boat. That is all that is required to keep the boat straight and away from the walls. The light also show the boat’s presence to boaters coming in the opposite direction. As long as they are not dazzled both steerers can readily look ahead to carefully align their boats close to the tunnel sides at the critical moment when the boats pass. If dazzled then the temptation is to shut one’s eyes – not a good way of avoiding impact!
There is no need to project a powerful beam along the tunnel because there is nothing useful to see. It is not like driving a car along an unlit road where there can be all sorts of hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists or dogs, or sudden bends to see and avoid.
By all means let’s take advantage of modern technology. LEDs are great in that they are reliable and robust, but please, let’s keep the brightness down!
PETER HUTCHINSON via email