It's the Law: Required Equipment
The required navigation lights must be displayed
between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted
visibility such as fog or heavy rain. For requirements for
larger vessels, see the U.S.
Coast Guard's Navigation Rules.
Power-Driven Vessels When Underway
If less than 65.6 feet (20 meters) long, these vessels must
exhibit the lights as shown in Figure 1. Remember, power-driven
vessels include sailboats operating under engine power. The
required lights are:
- Red and green sidelights visible from a distance of
at least two miles away—or if less than 39.4 feet
(12 meters) long, at least one mile away—on a dark, clear
- An all-round white light or both a masthead light and
a sternlight. These lights must be visible from a distance
of at least two miles away on a dark, clear night. The
all-round white light (or the masthead light) must be at
least 3.3 feet (one meter) higher than the sidelights.
Unpowered Vessels When Underway
Unpowered vessels are sailboats or vessels that are paddled,
poled, or rowed.
If less than 65.6 feet (20 meters) long, these vessels must exhibit
the lights as shown in Figure 2. The required lights are:
- Red and green sidelights visible from at least two miles away—or
if less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) long, at least one mile.
- A sternlight visible from at least two miles away.
If less than 23.0 feet (7 meters) long, these vessels
- If practical, exhibit the same lights as required for
unpowered vessels less than 65.6 feet (20 meters) in length.
- If not practical, have on hand at least one lantern
or flashlight shining a white light as in Figure 3.
All Vessels When Not Underway
All vessels are required to display a white light visible in all directions whenever they are moored or anchored outside a designated mooring area between sunset and sunrise.