"Kiekeboe!": Well known Dutch seakayak-coach demonstrating how to shine a light...
Update 29-12-2008: René suggests in the comments an alternative solution - you don't have to shave your head: the Navi Light 360 - click here for René's review. Used on a baseball-cap with a large brim it must be a good solution for a solo paddler - for group-paddling it might shine to bright with 16 LED's...
Fijne kerstdagen! Merry Christmas!
We just had the shortest day - daylight is scarce these days. My paddling during the week now mostly takes place in darkness. Even on the quiet waters around Woerden, with seldom any other traffic on the water - it's important to be visible on the water. To meet Dutch regulations a kayak should have a white toplight that is visible from all directions (it doesn't have to be on continuously). Red/green navigation lights in addition are an option, but are not compulsary.
After years of experimenting with less durable solutions, since over a year I am absolutely contented with the Tektite Stern Light. The versions with one or two LED's are sufficient - 4 LED's are defintively to much - the bright light will blind you. The requirement that the light should be visible from all sides - makes mounting on the kayak awkward - I am not a fan of big constructions on the deck. Sea kayak-coach Axel demonstrates the perfect solution - very basic, preparation is just a regular visit to the hair-dresser ;-)
Downside of this solution is (1) that the suction cup sucks really powerful - dismounting may leave some questionable traces and (2) (more serious:) downside of a white light shining above you is that it disturbs your night vision. That's why I opt for the second best solution and mount the light on the deck behind my back. OK, this doesn't meet all regulations completely - the paddler is in front of the light, resulting in no 100 % visibility from all directions. But because most traffic looks down on a kayak from a higher position - on the water the light works also sufficient with approaching vessels.
To read compass and charts I use in addition a simple red LED-bikelight in a waterproof bag. Works better -and is much cheaper - than a chemical lightstick!