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Navigation Lights

Use of Navigation Lights

Navigating your boat at night requires special care and attention.  Vessels that operate from sunset to sunrise, whether at anchor or underway, must carry and exhibit the correct lights.  A vessel is underway when not anchored, moored to the shore or aground. 
Navigation lights must also be displayed during daylight hours in periods of restricted visibility.  All boats whether used for commercial purposes or for pleasure boating, must comply with the regulations concerning lighting.
It is crucial the lights on your boats be placed and displayed appropriate to the size and class of your boat.  These lights tell other boat operators what your boat is doing - whether it is at anchor, under sail or motoring.

Range of Lights Visibility

Vessels 12 to 20m
• Masthead lights – 3 miles
• Sidelight and stern light - 2miles
• All round lights – 2 miles

Vessels under 12m
• Masthead lights – 2 miles
• Sidelight – 1 mile
• Stern light – 2 miles
• All round lights – 2 miles

Placement of Lights
Navigation lights must not be obscured by the vessel’s superstructure, nor must the deck lights obscure them.

The masthead light (all round white light) must be fitted on the centre line of the vessel.

Required Lights

Power vessels that are underway and are under 7m and less than 7 knots must exhibit an all round white light and, if possible, separate or combined sidelights.

Vessels under 12m
• Separate or combined sidelights, a masthead light and a stern light, or
• Separate or combined sidelights, an all round white light
Masthead or all round white light must be at least 1m above the sidelights.

Vessels 12 to 20m
• Masthead light, separate sidelights and a stern light, or
• Masthead light, combined sidelights and a stern light.
The masthead light shall be carried at least 2.5m above the gunwale.  Combined sidelights must be carried at least 1m below the masthead light.

Sailing Vessels Underway
Sailing while underway (by motor) shall exhibit navigation lights applicable to power driven vessels.

Sailing Vessels under 7m
Sailing vessels of less than 7m, or vessels being rowed shall exhibit the lights required for sailing vessels over 7m in length.  If not, they must have ready for immediate use an electric torch or a lit lantern showing a white light which can be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision.

Sailing Vessels 7 to 20m
• Combined lantern that is at or near the top of the mast and incorporates sidelights and a stern light, or
• Mast light and separate sidelights and a stern light.

Sailing Vessels over 20m
Sailing vessels over 20m shall exhibit sidelights and a stern light and may carry the optional red and green all round lights.  These vessels may not carry a combined lantern.

Optional Lights
A sailing vessel of any length, which is fitted with sidelights and a stern light (but not a combined lantern) may also carry two all round lights in a vertical line at or near the top of the mast.  The upper light shall be red and the lower green. 

Vessels At Anchor
Vessels less than 50m in length at anchor, shall exhibit an all round white light placed where it is best seen.  Anchor lights must always be shown from sunset to sunrise.  If at anchor in a busy area display additional lights and keep a good watch.
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