The Handbook of Georgia Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division - Web Version
Table of Contents
Failure to show the necessary lights is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents in Georgia.
Knowledge of the required lights enables you to:
- Be sure that your boat has proper lights.
- Distinguish at night between a sailboat and a motorboat.
- Determine what to do if you are in a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation.
- Have a good idea of the size of the other boat.
Several types of lights serve as navigational aids at night.
- Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (or combination lights) because they are visible to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side.
- Sternlight: This white light is seen from behind or nearly behind the vessel.
- Masthead Light: This white light shines forward and to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels. A masthead light must be displayed by all vessels when under engine power. The absence of this light indicates a sailboat under sail.
- All-Round White Light: On power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet in length, this light may be used to combine a masthead light and sternlight into a single white light that can be seen by other vessels from any direction. This light serves as an anchor light when sidelights are extinguished.
Required Lighting When Underway
All motorized vessels less than 26 feet long being operated during hours of darkness or low visibility must display:
Remember, the motor noise of your vessel makes it almost impossible to hear another vessel approaching; therefore, lights are necessary to locate a moving vessel during hours of darkness or low visibility.
All motorized vessels 26 feet long or longer being operated during hours of darkness or low visibility must display:
Sailboats operating under engine power should carry and display the same lights required for motorboats of the same length.
Sailboats under sail only being operated during hours of darkness or low visibility must display the following lights.
All non-motorized vessels (except sailboats) being operated during hours of darkness or low visibility must have ready and at hand:
Even though you may not plan to use your boat after sunset, you should have the required lights installed for your protection. No boat should ever leave shore without having at least one portable white light (a flashlight would be a minimum) in good operating condition. Trouble may develop that makes it impossible to get to shore before dark. If this happens, you would need a light to be seen and to signal to other boats.
Required Lighting When Anchored
All vessels moored or anchored outside a designated mooring area during hours of darkness must display: