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Navigation lights help you and other boaters determine which is the give-way vessel when encountering each other at night. These lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility, such as fog. There are four common navigation lights.
Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called 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 only 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. (On power-driven vessels less than 39.4 feet in length, the masthead light and sternlight may be combined into an all-round white light; power-driven vessels 39.4 feet in length or longer must have a separate masthead light.) A masthead light must be displayed by all vessels when under engine power. The absence of this light indicates a sailing vessel because sailboats under sail display only
sidelights and a sternlight.
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.
How lighting can improve your night-boating experience
Whether anchored in a quite bay, enjoying the tranquil waters and the golden hues of a sunset, or still on the hunt for the next big fish, being on the water at night can be a wonderful experience. So to help you stay out longer and keep your crew comfortable and safe we have a couple of suggestions.
The first type of lighting to consider buying for night-boating are marine LED floodlights. Unlike old halogen floodlights that use a lot of power and quickly drain the boats batter, LED lamps are ultra-efficient meaning you can run the floodlights for longer without fear of flattening the battery.
Quality LED floodlights also have engineered optics that produce a wide and even illumination to reduce eye strain and make baiting hooks and navigating your vessel a breeze.
Hella marine have an extensive range of LED floodlights to suit any vessel type with options that produce 250 through to a massive 20,000 lumens.
Your night vision can be impaired by the glare from white lights, making it very difficult to see through the night.
Red lighting however, does not affect your eyes’ ability to adapt to the dark, allowing you to light your vessel while ensuring your vision is not compromised and that you can safely navigate.
Boat industry stocks the perfect range of products for this purpose, including the EuroLED white/red touch lamps. These lights feature intuitive touch controls and can be easily dimmed and brightened, or switched from white to red light in order to adapt to how dark the night is.
Subtle courtesy and step lighting can also add style, colour and safety to your vessel. Illuminating passage ways and steps helps avoid accidental trips, and because all Hella marine LED lamps are completely sealed you can install them in interior or exterior, wet or dry locations.
Your boat’s interior lighting should also enhance your after-dark fishing experience, illuminating the cabin of your vessel so that you’re not stumbling around blindly.
Hella Marine offers a wide range of such products, including the excellent EuroLED 75 range.
These lamps also boast considerable power-saving benefits while producing a soft spread of light and industry leading colour rendering (CRI) to provide a well-lit and relaxed atmosphere on board.
As exciting as it may be, fishing at night can be more dangerous. So before heading out make sure your vessel is fitted with reliable navigation lamps, that everyone on board is wearing life jackets and you’ve taken every precaution to ensure that you and your passengers are completely safe.
NAVIGATION AT NIGHT: HEAD-ON APPROACH
If you meet a vessel and see a green, red and white light, you are approaching another power-driven vessel head-on. In this situation neither vessel has the right-of-way. Both operators must take early and substantial action to steer well clear of the other vessel. Both operators should reduce their speed and steer to starboard.
If you meet a vessel and see a green and red light but no masthead (white) light, then you are approaching a sail-driven vessel. You are the give-way craft and must yield right-of-way to the sailing vessel
If a green and a white light are visible, then another craft is approaching you from the port (left) side. In this situation, you are the stand-on craft and should maintain your speed and course. The other craft should take early and substantial action to steer well clear of your craft.
If a red and a white light are visible, then another craft is approaching you from the starboard (right) side. In this situation you are the give-way craft and must yield right-of-way. You should take early and substantial action to steer well clear of the other craft. Reduce your speed, change direction and pass at a safe distance behind the other boat.
Safe Boating Tip:
A simple way to decipher powerboat navigation lights is to remember: If you see a GREEN LIGHT you can ‘GO’: another boat is approaching from your port side.
If you see a RED LIGHT you should ‘STOP’: another boat is approaching from your starboard side.
WHAT DOES A WHITE LIGHT INDICATE?
If you see a white light on its own it indicates that you DO NOT have the right-of-way. The white light will be identifying one of the following three things:
1) You are approaching another craft from behind
If only a white light is visible, you may be approaching another craft from behind.
You are the give-way-craft and must take early and substantial action to steer well clear by altering your course and passing at a safe distance on the starboard (right) or port (left) side.
2) You are approaching a non-powered craft
If you are approaching a non-powered craft, you are the give-way craft and must yield the right of way.
You should take early and substantial action to stay well clear and pass at a safe speed and distance.
Remember that if you’re operating a non-powered craft at night, you are required to have an electric torch ready for use, flashlight or lighted lantern showing a white light (this rule applies if the boat cannot be equipped with standard navigation lights).
3) You are approaching an anchored craft at night
If you are approaching an anchored craft, the anchored craft will be exhibiting an all-round white light to indicate to other boaters that their craft is at anchor.
Remember: anchored boats should never display their green and red sidelights as these lights will indicate to other boaters that your craft is underway.
How to Wire Bow & Stern Lights
Boating at night means that, if a boat is less than 65.6 feet long and is not a rowboat, it must display navigation lights. On recreational boats, this means a combination (or bi-color) bow light with a red lens to port, a green lens to starboard and a white stern light. Although all manufactured boats come so equipped, the do-it-yourself sailor will have to wire these lights into his boat’s electrical system in a manner that will pass muster should his boat be inspected.
They should also be wired in a way that will alert the sailor should the bulbs burn out, so that they can be quickly replaced.
Items you will need
Combination bow light
Toggle switch with an indicator bulb
Waterproof wire connectors
Basic hand tool
Go out in Dark
When we start taking our boats out we eventually get to the stage where we go out in the dark. That means we are going to see some different vessel lights on the water.
This may even come sooner than we intended if we get our planning wrong and arrive late.
There are lots of lights out there to try and make sense of.
It’s important that we can identify some of the signals we are being shown so that we can avoid any dangers. This could include large shipping, boats with fishing gear or even military vessels.
Below is a complete guide to vessel lights:
POWER DRIVEN VESSELS
Normal power driven vessels have four lights to distinguish them from other boats.
As per all other boats they have a red port light on the left side of the bow. Opposite that they have a green starboard light on the right side of the bow. In the below image we can see that the vessel is facing us.This is because we can see both the port and starboard lights at the same time.
As well as these two lights, power driven vessels have a forward facing, white masthead. This indicates that the vessel is being propelled by machinery. This light is sometimes referred to as a ‘steaming light’ because of this.
AIR-CUSHIONED VESSELS OR HOVERCRAFT
These vessels are power driven and so they display the same lights as power driven vessels. In addition however, so they can be distinguished, they also display and all round flashing yellow light. This is mounted where it can best be seen.
The lights for sailing vessels are very similar to those of power driven vessels plus a couple of extra options.
When sailing, the vessel has to display red and green side lights and a white stern light. It does not display a forward facing masthead light as that would mean it was being propelled by machinery.
A masthead does need to be fitted though as it must be displayed when the engine is turned on. This is an important distinction because sailing vessels and power driven vessels avoid collisions in different ways.
Which side of a boat has a green light at night?
Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called 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.
What side of the vessel is the green sidelight located?
Green is the Sidelight on the starboard side and is visible over an arc from the bow of 112.5º.
What lights should be on when boating at night?
Look for the red and green Red and green lights are forward on either side of the bow and a white light is aft at the stern. If you see both red and green, the boat is coming head on. If you see white, the boat is ahead of you and/or moving away. If in doubt and you see red, stop.
Which side of a pleasure craft has a green light at night?
Here are common navigation lights. These red and green lights are called sidelights (also called combination lights) because they are visible to another boat approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a boat’s port (left) side; the green indicates a boat’s starboard (right) side.
What does a single white light on a boat tell you?
Powerboat A: When only a white light is visible, you may be overtaking another vessel. Give way to either side. Powerboat B: You are being overtaken. Stand on.
What should I do when approaching a power driven vessel?
Port-to-Port. The most common response in a head-on meeting between power-driven vessels is to signal an intention to pass port-to-port. This action is initiated by one of the vessels sounding one short blast. In short, vessel A must blow one short blast, indicating its intention to pass port-to-port, and then alters its course to starboard.
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