Our Penobscot 14, ST. JACQUES, was next on the list to get her own trailer so we could explore the waterways of the Mid-Atlantic states. We set her up on an EZ Loader 14′ rig with an 800-lb capacity and, as usual with this type of small boat trailer, the frame box only extends about 2′ beyond the axle. This configuration places the tail lights underneath the boat, about 3′ forward of the transom and partially hidden from sight, so we decided to add LED tail lights to the trailer’s guideposts to augment the frame-mounted lights.

Photographs by the author

There are 10 red LEDs per side, mounted on a printed circuit board. Fixed on thick-walled PVC tubing, the lights can fit onto the top of any standard trailer guidepost.

We searched for trailer guidepost light kits and found an economical option, the Seavolt LED Trailer Guide-On kit. The kit consists of two LED light assemblies made from thick-walled PVC that mount to the top of standard 2″ PVC guideposts. The LEDs are red, covered by a clear acrylic lens. The wiring harness is 10′ long for each side, and an easy-to-follow instruction guide explains how to splice the guidepost light into the existing 12-volt DC trailer wiring. Six total wire connections must be made for each ground, brake, and tail light per side. The kit provides butt connectors as well as snap connectors. We prefer to splice with butt connectors and then tape the connections with self-fusing silicone-rubber tape to minimize water intrusion. The tape also insulates the wire connection, remains flexible, and withstands road temperature extremes. Trailer-frame clips and heat-shrink tubing to cover the butt connectors are also included.

Bringing the trailer lights out from under the boat improves their visibility, keeps them protected from road damage, and in most cases, will also keep them above water when launching or recovering a boat.

The lights are the newest surface-mounted diode (SMD) technology, 10 lights per fixture, mounted on printed circuit boards and DOT/SAE-approved (Department of Transportation/Society of Automotive Engineers). SMD LEDs burn brighter with less power than the older bulb-type LED lights, they are highly reliable, and are less expensive to manufacture. The fixtures are submersible, but since they sit on top of the guideposts, just above ST. JACQUES’ gunwales, they are unlikely ever to be submerged. This position places the tail, turn, and brake lights at about eye level and in clear sight for any vehicles following us down the road, a sure-fire attention-getter. The top cap of the assembly is infused with a high-visibility red color, which will help us while backing up the trailer and will provide a good visual reference when loading the boat onto the trailer at the ramp. The light kit is installed quickly; stainless-steel screws are provided to secure the PVC casing to the guidepost.

We’ve been using LED trailer lights for years, and they have proven very reliable. We don’t miss the days of carrying spare incandescent bulbs and a wire brush to get rust off the old-school trailer lights. But any trailer lights mounted on the trailer frame are close to the road and create more opportunities for damage, so our “belt-and-suspenders” addition of guidepost-mounted lights assures safer trailering.

Audrey (Skipper) and Kent Lewis light up the night skies of Virginia with their fleet of 16 small boats and seven trailers. Their adventures are logged at Small Boat Restoration.

The Seavolt Trailer Guide-on Post-Mounted LED Tail Lights Kit is available from West Marine for $64.99. Other online outlets have prices as low as $54.99.

Is there a product that might be useful for boatbuilding, cruising, or shore-side camping that you’d like us to review? Please email your suggestions.