LET­TERS

Canal Boat - - This Month -

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

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