By Tom Neale, 12/22/2011


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Anchoring in the dark can be a serious pain in the backside. If it's in the moonlight out on the Bahamas Banks in calm weather with miles and miles of shallow ocean waters and good holding around you it's a pleasure and a beautiful experience. But if it's in a narrow creek in the marsh in the middle of Georgia wilderness, and if it's pitch black and there's an 8 foot tide with a couple knots of current and if unseen shoals extend out from the marsh, well into the anchorage, ready to trap you when the tide changes in the middle of the night, you're not going to be having a lot of fun. This was what we were doing a few weeks ago.

Knucklehead Front View.
Using the radar, our chart plotter and the depth finder, we circled cautiously until we found a spot where the bottom was good mud, we had enough swinging room to put down enough chain so that the anchor could have good holding and the shoals didn't come too close. We'd run hard all day; had to run late because of the need to work bridges and the tide in shallow water, and we were exhausted. And the interior light for the enclosed cockpit (this is essentially a wheel house on our boat) wasn't working. We needed it to see how to put things away and get ready for the night. And then I remembered my Knucklehead.

I brought it up (I keep it near our bed), pointed the light up into the overhead and turned it on. The entire cockpit was lighted with high quality totally illuminating flood light. It was amazing, despite the fact that we'd already been amazed with it repeatedly. For example, when I work in the nether regions of my engine room and need a flood light to see, I used to rig a drop light, becoming entangled in the cord as I tried to hook it somewhere and stabilize it so that it would put its puny light into where I needed to see. If not a drop light, I'd try to hold a flash light in one of my three hands, or prop one up so that it would fall straight into the bilge on the first roll, hold it in my mouth (this doesn't work when I start cussing) or wear a head light which would only illuminate in the area of where I was looking. With the Knucklehead, I clip it to something (it has a very strong heavy duty clip for your belt or whatever) or attach it with its magnet. We've all had magnet tools that were wimps. This magnet is so strong there is a warning about not letting it pinch you (and it will!) and keeping it at least 12 inches from pacemakers. It is rated at 135 pound pull strength. You don't need to worry about this thing slipping off and going overboard or into the bilge. But if you need to do work around a compass or other devices sensitive to magnet fields, you can easily remove the magnet with a supplied Allen wrench. The magnet has a rubberized coating to protect surfaces to which you might attach it.

The light isn't like a spot light; it's like a high powered flood light, and it's made by StreamLight. It illuminates all around. This includes the middle "target" area where with other lights there is often a dark spot. It has 4 modes. There's not the usual concern about depleting its batteries because of its technology. You can work until you drop, but the light is still doing its thing.

Knucklehead BackView Showing
Magnet & Clip
How does it do its thing? It starts with shockproof dual C4® premium LED technology "bulbs" that deliver 200 lumens. These are relatively new very high tech bulbs that are very small but put out an amazing amount of light while consuming an amazingly small amount of energy. It has dual parabolic reflectors within a larger textured reflector which floods bright light on target at the same time the unit is delivering an overall smooth broad floodlight pattern. Few realize the importance of reflectors in a light but you will when you use this one. It has a 210 degree articulating head that rotates at 360 degrees. With this, you can set it up to illuminate what you need even though the point where you set it down or attach it isn't ideal, as so often occurs on a boat or any other real life work situations.

It operates in 4 modes and has the following manufacturer ratings. High mode gives 1150 candela peak beam intensity, 200 Lumens at 3.5 hour runtime. Low mode gives 350 candela peak beam intensity, 63 lumens at 16 hour runtime.(See Tom's Tips below.) This is bright enough for most jobs or other applications. You can also set it to a much lower Moonlight mode which gives plenty of illumination for many uses, and a 20 day runtime. This could be used, for example, for illumination at night when you don't have a night-light filtered light available and want to minimize loss of night vision. If you've got a problem, you can set it to a bright flash mode (reminds me of a strobe) which it'll do for 8 hours. Obviously, this light would also be ideal to carry in a car, for camping, for land based mechanical work and for many other uses.

Tom’s Tips on Buying Flashlights

1. No longer do we have to rely on the bogus billion candle power claims when buying lights.

2. On August 18, 2009, the ANSI/NEMA FL 1 FLASHLIGHT BASIC PERFORMANCE STANDARD was approved as an American National Standard. The National Electrical Manufactures Association (NEMA) says that it is intended to cover basic performance of hand-held/portable flashlights, spotlights and headlamps providing directional lighting. (I discussed it in an article in BoatUS Magazine.)

Click Here for More Tips

I really appreciate the fact that you can turn the light on and off and make these various settings with just one large rubber dome push button that you can operate even when wearing work gloves. And you don't have to be able to see labeled settings, something that has been a constant hassle when I've been working in the dark or in constricted spaces where I can't see my hand. Push once to turn on, hold for 1 second to go to dim, two seconds for strobe mode and hold for around 8 seconds for the moonlight mode.

This tool (it's not just a light, but a high tech tool) is constructed of nylon polymer and has been impact-resistance tested at 2 meters and is rated for water resistance. Hey, I can drop it in my bilge anytime I want. It has a limited lifetime warranty. There is the option of a dual power source, using either a rechargeable NiCd battery pack or 4 "AA" alkaline batteries. I prefer the latter because I can just pop in 4 more if I ever run down what I've got in there, although despite using it (and, yes, playing with it) all the time, I haven't yet run down the first set. The AAs don't just slide into the light. They go into a case which you then insert into the light. I like this because if the AAs go bad and leak acid, there's a little less likelihood of ruining the light.

From time to time I tell you about neat stuff that I've found while traveling thousands of miles per year on the water. I tell you about what I've used and like. This is one of them. Technical info and specs comes from the manufacturer, but I know I love this tool. The MSRP is $254.00 for the rechargeable model but don't let that scare you off. They aren't cheap but you can get them for much less (hint hint: check Amazon) and, in my view, they're worth it.



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