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Shedding more light on aiding search-and-rescue missions

The torrential rains last Monday might have dampened the demonstration of a new boating product, but OceanLED got the point across about the value of its lighting systems for search-and-rescue operations.

The company’s publicists invited boating media to watch SeaTow crews and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue divers raise a sunken, 24-foot deck boat from Biscayne Bay at Scotty’s Landing in Coconut Grove. The point of the staged event was to demonstrate the effectiveness of OceanLED’s deck and underwater lights in locating and salvaging a sunken vessel at night.

ADVERSE CONDITIONS

Lightning cancelled the diving part of the demo, but the two SeaTow boats lit up the rainy night and murky waters using OceanLED’s amphibious and pro series lights.

Boating writers and company officials watched from the relatively dry patio at Scotty’s Landing.

”Real world conditions — that’s for sure,” said Scott McClary, owner of the SeaTow franchise on Key Biscayne. “They ought to get hazard pay for being out there.”

Observers noticed a big difference in brightness between the SeaTow boats’ existing halogen deck lights and the bulbless LED illumination they had installed for Monday’s demo. The halogens appeared like flashlights compared to the LEDs.

”I could actually see everything and I wasn’t blinded,” confirmed SeaTow captain Erik Schute, who was driving one of the boats. “[Boaters] will be able to see us miles away.

“On a nighttime rescue, we could see each other two miles away.”

Schute said the underwater lights also were much brighter than dive lights.

”You could see a lot better than when I put the flashlight in the water,” he said.

OceanLED was founded in 2004 by the English father-and-son team of Nigel and Lee Savage who were looking for a simple underwater light that needed no bulb. The Savages liked LEDs because of their low power draw, low heat generation and long operational life.

According to the company’s military and commercial sales manager, captain Ky Smith, the first buyers of OceanLEDs were the owners of superyachts who wanted to display their grand vessels at night. Smith said the yachts’ captains appreciated the ease and simplicity of the thru-hull and flush-mounted installations.

FISHERMEN’S DELIGHT

OceanLED soon caught on with recreational and commercial fishermen, who used the lights to attract bait and gamefish and light up their decks for night fishing. The company sponsored Kitt Toomey’s successful Coral Gables-based Get Lit tournament fishing team, which won last month’s World Sailfish Championship in Key West.

Other applications include bully netting for lobster and wingnetting for shrimp in Biscayne Bay.

These days, OceanLED is trying to break into the search-and-rescue and marine salvage markets. They are in talks with SeaTow and other local first-responders; hence, Monday’s media event.

McClary was convinced.

”Man, I am impressed,” he said. “The most dramatic display was the difference between the halogen and the LED. My biggest thing, because we’re first-responders, is safety. If it can assist us to see somebody, or be seen by somebody, we’re all for it. I have eight boats and I’m going to get it on all of them.”

For more information about OceanLED lighting systems, visit oceanled.com

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