Off-the-shelf kayak lights are an excellent way to increase safety when night paddling. By raising your light a few feet above the deck you can ensure it remains unblocked by your body and visible through the full 360. Plus, it won’t nuke your night vision by shining directly in your eyes.
I built my light mast out of cut-down shaft sections from broken paddles. Each piece is stuffed with a roll of closed-cell foam cut from an old sleeping pad so it floats if dropped overboard. I made the mast 3-piece instead of 2-piece so when disassembled it’s short enough to fit into a North Shore cockpit bag. This lets it travel tucked beside my seat, right at hand if a late afternoon paddle runs on into the evening.
The mast mount on my current kayak is a Scotty 241 fixture, which can also accept a fishing rod holder or a camera mount. Scotty’s flush deck fixtures work too, as seen in this picture of my previous kayak, showing how the bottom mast section slides over a Scotty rod extender. I modified the extender by removing the upper plastic fitting and wrapping it with several winds of duct tape so it fit more snuggly into the hollow mast section.
In winter, night paddling frees you from the tyranny of short days. In summer, it lets you paddle by moon and starlight, and perhaps even experience the liquid fire of bioluminescence. With your light held high, you’ll stay visible to paddling companions and boat traffic.