Navigation Light Requirements - Overview and Powered Vessels
Vessel operators must make sure that their vessels are equipped with the proper navigation lights and use the lights during these conditions:
- When away from the dock between sunset and sunrise
- During periods of restricted visibility such as fog or heavy rain
The different types of navigation lights are described in a previous unit. No other lights that may be mistaken for required navigation lights may be exhibited.
The required navigation lights differ depending on the type and size of your vessel. The common lighting configurations for recreational vessels are discussed below. For other configurations and requirements for larger vessels, see the U.S. Coast Guard's Navigation Rules.
Power-Driven Vessels Less Than 65.6 Feet Long 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 night.
- An all-round white light (if vessel is less than 39.4 feet long) 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.
The red and green lighting must conform to the illustration. Red should be on the port (left side) of the bow and green on the starboard (right side) of the bow.