I mostly see strobes on the rear lash tab of a PFD, and that’s where I have mine. I get that you don’t want the strobe blinding you if on the front lash tab, but on the rear lash tab isn’t it going to be obscured by your body and possibly submerged (if floating on back). Next time I’m out I will have to do a little floating to see exactly where mine would be but wondering what opinions are on this. Infrequently, I may have seen them sort of ad hoc lashed to shoulder strap which might make more sense.
Strictly speaking strobes on the water indicate emergency, the reason I have it on the front of my PFD where I can turn it on at my disposition. For regular paddling I have a yellow steady C-light on my PFD and a white light (when the supposedly waterproof light hasn’t gotten damp again) on the boat.
There are fans of strobe lights on the PFD, and I haven’t seen anyone get in trouble for it. But personally I would not use a strobe as a regular paddling light.
Keep in pocket for emergency. One light not strobe in deck bag.
Yeah, I meant for emergency signaling (my new ‘strobe’ has steady, flash, and SOS modes). Although I haven’t had any need to use it in ages as I haven’t found myself on the water after dark for years (partly as I’ve moved to the western edge of a time zone), I also have a C-light as a night-time “please don’t run over me” light, and have installed a Scotty brand flush mount on the rear deck which holds it perfectly.
I keep mine on my shoulder tab or on the back tab (which is relatively high on my Kokatat vest). I can easily reach it to turn it on/off. I’d rather not be blinded by having it on the front of my vest as I would (hopefully) be relying on my PLB/radio for active rescue assistance.
An interesting statement (that I haven’t verified) in “The Annapolis Book of Seamanship” is that “the flash of a strobe light is so bright that it usually can be seen underwater”, so worries about your light being slightly submerged might not be a big deal.
I also carry a regular waterproof light or headlight and turn on as necessary. For touring I’ll often use a stern light (helps to keep a group together), but not during multi-day races (where I’m usually in stealth mode).
In addition to regular flares, I also carry a green laser flare in my PFD pocket that can augment the strobe and allows you to actively aim it toward a boat or plane. These are not the same as a laser pointer (which can injure eyes) and the laser flare spreads the light out in a wide beam rather than focusing to a point.
Apparently the coasties can see the strobe from a few miles out, using night vision goggles, but that’s just something I heard and can’t verify.
Slightly submerged it will not be seen unless they are looking down on you from above.
Also, if it is submerged, and you are floating face up, it seems like your body would be blocking the light from anyone except submariners. If you are floating face down, it doesn’t matter.
I am very curious about those lasers. I have one also but am not sure how useful it would be, or how it would be perceived by potential rescuers. Here’s an article from August 2012 about Coast Guard rescue helicopters being forced to abort rescue searches when struck with green laser light http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2012/08/green-lasers-halt-coast-guard-air-searches/
However, earlier in that same year, in February 2012, HR658 was passed which included a “Prohibition Against Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft” but which also exempted an individual using a laser emergency signaling devices to send an emergency distress signal." I just wonder in real life if an aircraft or ship that got hit with a green laser light, would they even know it was a distress signal vs some dork with a laser pointer. It seems like it’s best use would be after you have signaled by other means a need for rescue and needed to vector someone in from a considerable distance (from further than might be possible with a flashlight or strobe for example). One advantage of a strobe (which I also carry) is that it once on, it does not require that the person in need of rescue has their wits about them. For example, it would still operate if you were hypothermic and had lost all dexterity. The rescue laser requires you to be actively pointing it at a potential rescue vessel.
here are some other comments of relevance
I carry the Greatland laser light on my pfd, but thankfully I have never had to actually use it.
I’ve found the EF-20A-1 Distress Strobe of interest, but regrettably I was unable to find any reviews by kayakers: