Boat Lights Frequently Asked Questions

Boat Lights: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common, frequently asked questions about boat lights.

What Are Lights on a Boat Called?

Masthead lights are the white lights at the front of a boat.
Stern lights are the white lights at the rear, then there is a pair of green and red sidelights.

What Does A White Light on a Boat Mean?

All-round white light on boats combines the stern light and the masthead to be seen by any other vessel from any distance.
It is used as an anchor light, especially when the sidelights are not on.

What Does A Blue Light on a Boat Mean?

With restricted visibility, the blue lights will show you where you are approaching the vessel from.
Blue lights also travel faster than other colours underwater. Law enforcement vessels can display the blue light when engaged in enforcement activities.

What Does A Green Light on a Boat Mean?

The green light is Part of the sidelights on the boat.
When you see the green light, it means you are approaching the vessel head-on or from the side.
It tells you to proceed with caution to avoid a collision.
The green light indicates the right side of the boat.

What Does A Red Light on a Boat Mean?

The red light is one half of the combination or sidelights.
It is visible from the front or the side of the vessel.
When you see it, you should maintain your course and speed or manoeuvre to avoid any accidents.
The red light indicates the left side of the boat.

What Does A Yellow Light on a Boat Mean?

The yellow light is a navigation light on boats that are used for towing.
It will be displayed at the forward end of the towing vessel.
It may also be on the boat that is being towed.

When Must Navigation Lights Be Displayed?

The navigation lights must be displayed when there is restricted visibility.
When there is heavy rain or fog, and they should be on between sunset and sunrise.

How Do You Read A Boat Navigation Light?

There are four essential lights that you need to learn.
The sidelights, green and red, are visible from the sides and the front. Sternlight (white) is only visible from behind the vessel.
Masthead light (white), it’s displayed by boats when they are under engine power.
Then all-round white light, which is a combination of the masthead and stern lights on powered boats.

What Lights Are Required On A Boat At Night?

The red, green and white lights are a must on any vessel at night. Yellow lights should be on if a boat is being towed at night.

Do I Need Navigation Lights On My Boat?

Yes, navigation lights are necessary for proper boat navigation and collision avoidance, especially during low visibility conditions such as nighttime or foggy weather. By displaying the required navigation lights, other boaters can accurately determine your vessel’s position, direction of travel, and its size.

What Colour Lights Go On The Front Of A Boat?

The white masthead lights are the ones in front of the boat.
It is visible across 225 degrees at least two miles away.


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Hi, I’m Igor, Skipper of S/Y "The Hooker". A decade ago, I conquered my childhood dream: to be a sailing skipper, own a sailing yacht. Yes, it knocked dullness out of my urban life — Read more →

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