Navigation lights are an important safety feature for any boat, large or small. They are used to help other vessels identify the size and direction of your boat, and to make sure that you can be seen in low light conditions. Knowing when to display navigation lights is essential for safe boating.
The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) states that navigation lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise, as well as during periods of restricted visibility such as fog or heavy rain. The lights should also be displayed when the vessel is moored or anchored in a port or harbor.
The type of navigation lights required depends on the size and type of vessel you are operating. Small boats under 12 meters in length typically only need a white light at the front and a red and green light at the rear. Larger vessels may require additional navigation lights depending on their size and shape.
When navigating in restricted visibility, it is important to remember that navigation lights should be visible from all directions around your boat. This means that if you are operating a powerboat, you should ensure that your navigation lights are visible from both sides of the vessel. If you are sailing, then your masthead light should be visible from both sides of the boat as well as from behind.
It is also important to remember that navigation lights should not be used as a substitute for other navigational aids such as radar or GPS systems. Navigation lights should only be used to supplement these systems and not replace them entirely.
In summary, it is essential to know when to display navigation lights on your boat in order to ensure safe boating practices and avoid collisions with other vessels. Navigation lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise, during periods of restricted visibility such as fog or heavy rain, and when moored or anchored in a port or harbor. The type of navigation lights required depends on the size and type of vessel being operated, so it is important to check with local regulations before setting out on the water.