A couple of weeks ago I made a hard decision.  I knew we’d need to have lights onboard and I was not wanting to reconnect the old florescent fixtures that were corroding.  So that meant we’d need to go ahead with our LED conversion.  It sounds so simple.  However, its not.

There are mountains of conjecture and bickering online about which LED lights are the best, which draw the least current, which are coolest, how much they affect RFI for radio transmission, and finally how bright and warm they look!  Whew!  What to believe?  Everyone claims different stuff.

At first I was sold on a product called Sensibulb.  But then I discovered how much the Sensibulb costs.  They also only made interior LEDs.  We needed anchor lights and nav light replacements as well.  Looking at some other American vendors I was totally shocked.  300 dollars for an anchor light.  150 dollars for a stern light.  The Sensibulb interior LEDs were for the bulb only (50 bucks), not the sockets.  Nothing matched our old sockets and honestly I wouldn’t want to reuse the old things.  What to do?

In the beginning the budget for LED complete refit was way up in the stratosphere.  We just assumed that was the cost.  If I could sell one of my kidneys and maybe we could pawn off some nudie pics of Dani we could just about cover the costs of all new LEDs.

About a year into our refit I ran across a few articles about a company in Fiji making LED lights.  They had good reviews.  The more I looked the better the reviews.  Never a bad word.   No one really put them in the comparisons I was reading about online and in magazines.  The only place you heard about these Fijian bulbs was on SSCA message boards or on blogs of world cruisers.  That is usually a good sign.  I’m not fond of credit card captains and these sources I was reading from were not written by their ilk.

The best part was the cost of the lights; they sold for about 50 bucks and they included the fixture, which we need.  Furthermore, the fixtures are wooden for interior fixtures!  That matches Sundowner’s interior beautifully.

Despite reservations about making an international order from a vendor I’ve never spoken to and despite their website being late 90s vintage, we pulled the trigger.  No seriously.  Check out their website.  I felt like it was 1999 again.  http://www.bebi-electronics.com/

I showed Dani the lights and she immediately fell in love with the looks of them and prodded me into ordering more than I would have for my “test” shipment.

After the sizable order ($500+!!), we got a reply from the vendor letting us know all about the shipping process.  That is nice.  Well they shipped out.  Then we waited almost a week with no progress on the shipping.  We emailed back and forth with Bebi, USPS gave me wrong info.  Kendra at Bebi told me if they didn’t turn up they’d reship.  Talk about reassurance.  Anyway, today… This morning…  We got the shipment!

First thing I wanted to look at was the “temp” anchor light I ordered to use until I can replace the mast anchor light.  I’ll also later use it as a backup. Bebi Beka anchor light

Behold the bats on the “Beka” light from Bebi.  It plugs in via cig jack.  We were so excited that we ran out to the car while wearing pajamas and plugged it in.  And damn was this thing bright.  Its daylight outside and I was blinded.  A good thing!  Like two children on Xmas morning we laughed while staring into the blinding white light and probably doing permanent damage to our retinas.

Our overall haul looked like this.
Bebi LED lights
A few rectangular interior lights and a couple of hexagonal shaped ones.  The white ones are for going up on the mast.  The black things in the back are some bulbs to replace the nav lights inside the existing fixtures we have.   (Our current nav lights pull massive amps.)

So we ran to the boat… Back to the wiring purgatory.  I used one of the “long” lights under the rail grab above the nav table.  This particular light is a “pure white” with a dimmer for 3 settings and a separate green “night” light.  Awesome.

I installed a dual bus on the starboard side of the boat and wired it to the panel.  So far I’ve connected the settee reading light, the nav table light, and the 12v DC socket block to it.  So now the starboard side of the boat has power!

Also of note… Yesterday I started a very special project.  Today I wrapped it up.  I purchased a new stereo for the boat.  Its Dani’s bday present.

Fusion Marine Radio

To hook it up I mounted it in a 1DIN holder and then connected it to some aluminum brackets.Fusion Marine Radio brackets

Then I hung it above the nav table.  Its way over on the right in this photo.  You can also see the speakers I installed here up in the pipe berth.
Fusion Marine Radio installed

Eventually I’ll run wires up into the cockpit to have outdoor music too.  So today there was light and there was music.   Progress rocks!

Tell us about your LED experiences.