It's the Law: Required Equipment for Your Vessel
The required navigation lights must be displayed between
sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility.
Power-Driven Vessels When Underway
If less than 65.6 ft. 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 long, at
least one mile away—on a dark, clear night.
- 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 higher than the sidelights.
The masthead light and sternlight may be combined as an all-round white light on vessels less than 39.4 feet long.
Power-Driven Vessels Less Than 65.6 Ft.
Unpowered Vessels When Underway
Unpowered vessels are sailboats or vessels that are paddled,
poled, or rowed.
Unpowered Vessels Less Than 65.6 Feet
An alternative to the sidelights and sternlight is a combination red, green, and white light, which must be exhibited near the top of the mast.
If less than
65.6 ft. 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 long, at least one mile
- A sternlight visible from at least two miles away.
Unpowered Vessels Less Than 23.0 Feet
If less than 23.0 feet long, these vessels should:
- If practical, exhibit the same lights as required for unpowered vessels less than 65.6 feet in length.
- If not practical, have on hand at least one lantern or flashlight shining a white light as in Figure 3.
Vessel operators should never leave shore without a flashlight. Even if you plan to return before dark, unforeseen developments might delay your return past nightfall.
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.