As a sailor, it is essential to be aware of and adhere to proper sailboat lighting when navigating at night. These lights are necessary to ensure safety and avoid collisions with other vessels.
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) specifies lighting requirements for different types of boats. There are different lighting rules for vessels under power and those under sail. In this article, we’ll discuss the proper sailboat lights at night.
Sailboats are required to have three lights at a minimum: a masthead light, a red port light, and a green starboard light. The masthead light is white and is located at the top of the mast. This light should shine forward and aft and be visible from 2 nautical miles away. It is important to ensure that the masthead light is not obstructed by the sail or any other structure onboard.
The red port light is located on the left or port side of the boat and is visible from 1 nautical mile away. The green starboard light is on the right or starboard side and is also visible from 1 nautical mile away. These lights should shine out from the vessel and be visible from dead ahead to 112.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side.
In addition to these lights, sailboats that are underway may show an optional stern light. This light is placed at the stern of the vessel and is white. It should be visible from 2 nautical miles away and can be used to indicate that the sailboat is underway and not at anchor.
If a sailboat is not underway but still poses a potential hazard, it should display an anchor light. This is a white light that is visible from 2 nautical miles away and should be located near the top of the mast. This light indicates that the sailboat is anchored and should be avoided by other vessels.
It is important to note that the visibility of the lights depends on the weather and other conditions. In foggy or hazy conditions, the lights may not be visible from the specified distance. It is always a good idea to maintain a lookout and be aware of other vessels in the vicinity.
Proper sailboat lighting at night is critical to ensuring safety and avoiding collisions with other boats. It is essential to understand the required lighting regulations and to ensure that all lights are functioning correctly before heading out on the water. Remember to always maintain a lookout and be aware of other vessels around you. Happy sailing!