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What Lights are Required on a Boat

what lights are required on a boat

Boats come in different sizes, shapes, and types, but regardless of their differences, they all have one thing in common: they require lighting to ensure safe navigation. Proper lighting on a boat is essential for boat day and night use to help prevent accidents and ensure that other boats can see you.

But what lights are required on boat? Boating safety depends largely on proper lighting, especially during low-light conditions. Navigational lights are requirements for most boats, and there are specific regulations regarding the type and placement of these lights. This article will discuss the lights required on a boat and their importance in ensuring the safety of the water.

Navigational Lights

boat navigational lights

Navigational lights are the most essential type of lighting on a boat. They help you identify other boats, determine their direction of travel, and help other boats see you. Navigational lights are required by law for all boats that operate between sunset and sunrise and in periods of restricted visibility, such as fog, heavy rain, or mist.

Navigation lights consist of three primary lights: a red light, green light, and white light. The red light is located on the port side of the boat. The white light is located at the stern of the boat. These lights help other boaters identify your boat’s direction and size.

Batteries power navigation lights, and they must be visible from a distance of at least two miles. If your boat is over 65.6 feet long, it must also have an additional masthead light, a white light at the top. This light must be visible from a distance of at least three miles.

Anchor Lights

boat anchor lights

An anchor light is a white light that is used when a boat is anchored or moored. It is required by law for all boats that are anchored or moored between sunset and sunrise. The anchor light is usually mounted on the mast or the boat’s highest point and must be visible from a distance of at least two miles.

The anchor light should be displayed in addition to the navigation lights. If your boat is less than 65.6 feet long, you can use the same white light you use for the stern light as the anchor light. If the boat is over 65.6 feet in length, you must have a separate anchor light.

Deck Lights

boat deck lights

Deck lights are optional lights used to illuminate a boat’s deck. They are helpful when you are operating your boat in low-light conditions or when you need to perform tasks on the deck at night. Deck lights can be mounted on the bow or the stern of the boat and on the sides.

Deck lights should be used carefully to avoid blinding other boaters. They should not be used to interfere with the navigation lights or the anchor lights.

Other Lights

Some other types of lights that you may consider for your boat include:


Spotlights are used to illuminate a specific area or object, such as a dock or a buoy. They can be handheld or mounted on the boat.

Underwater Lights

Underwater lights are used to illuminate the water around the boat. They can be used for aesthetics or to attract fish.

Courtesy Lights

Courtesy lights are low-level lights used to illuminate the boat’s interior. They are helpful when you are navigating the boat at night or when you need to perform tasks inside the boat.

What Type of Boat Requires Navigation Lights

All boats, regardless of their size or type, are required to have navigational lights when operating between sunset and sunrise or in periods of reduced visibility. Navigational lights signal the presence and position of a vessel to other boats and help prevent collisions on the water.

The specific requirements for navigational lights may vary depending on the type and size of the boat, as well as the area in which it is being operated. However, in general, all boats must have green and red sidelights, a stern white light, and an all-around white light, which can be used in place of the sidelights and stern light in certain conditions.

Boat operators must understand and comply with the navigational light requirements, as failure to do so can result in fines, legal penalties, and, most importantly, an increased risk of water accidents.


Knowing what lights are required on a boat is a must-have for every boat owner. Lighting is a critical safety feature on any boat. Navigational lights, anchor lights and specialized fishing lights are required by law and should be used in accordance with the regulations.

Boat owners must ensure that their lighting is functioning properly and that they are familiar with the regulations regarding required lighting for their vessels. By doing so, boat owners can help ensure the safety of themselves and others while on the water.

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