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Navigation Lights
Setting Lights for Night Time Cruises
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Anytime you're out on the water after sunset, or out to catch some breakfast before sunrise, lights make you more visible to other boaters and they also show what direction you're travelling.  

 

As a general rule, boats with the Canadian Compliance Notice attached to the hull will have the appropriate light fixtures attached, but it is good to double check.  Sometimes people modify boats or move things around on them.  You should be absolutely sure that the lights are properly placed, particularly on any home built or modified vessels.  It almost goes without saying but the lights must be in good repair – lenses clear, bulbs working, batteries charged – to comply with regulations.

 

The specification of these lights – their placement and design – are laid out in the Collision Regulations, (ANNEX 1: Positioning and Technical Details of Lights and Shapes) but here is a summary of the general configurations of the lights and what each length and type of boat requires.

 

Definitions:

 

1)   Sidelight.  A light that shows red or green, and can be seen from directly in front of the boat in an arc through 112.5 degrees to 22.5 degrees abaft of the beam.  The sidelights cannot be seen from directly astern.

 

2)   Masthead Light: all around white light.  A white light that is fixed above any superstructure on the fore-aft centre line of the vessel showing an arc of light of 225 degrees from directly forward to 22.5 degrees abaft of the beam on the port and starboard sides.  This masthead light cannot be seen from directly astern. 

 

3)   Other specific-use masthead lights:

 

a.     Two sidelights combined into a single fixture, showing red and green that is placed on the fore-aft centre line of the vessel above any superstructure.  Each colour projects from directly forward to 22.5 degrees abaft of the beam on either side. 

b.     Sidelights may also show red or green all around the boat – 360 degrees.  These are placed red above green on the masthead.   

c.      Three colours may be combined into one all around light, with red and green projecting from directly forward through 112.5 degrees, and white through 135 degrees astern.

d.     An all-around light projects a white light in an unbroken 360-degree arc. 

 

4)   Stern Light.  A white light that projects through 135 degrees, from directly astern to 67.5 degrees from directly aft on either side of the vessel.  This light can be seen from the side and back but not from directly in front of the vessel. 

 

Human Powered Boats

1)   Have ready a flashlight or other bright light that you can direct at approaching boats and that will be seen in time to avoid a collision.

 

Or

 

2)   Navigation lights the same as sailboats of equal length to human powered craft. 

 

Power Boats under 12 Meters (39’4”):

 

1)   One masthead light

2)   One sidelight to port showing red.

3)   One sidelight to starboard showing green.

 

Or

 

1)   One all-around white light and two sidelights, one red to port one green to starboard

 

Power Boats from 12 Meters to Less than 50 Meters (39’4” to 164’1”):

 

1)   One masthead light

2)   One sidelight to port showing red

3)   One sidelight to starboard showing green

4)   Stern light

 

Sailboats Under 7 Meters (23’):

 

1)   One sidelight to port showing red

2)   One sidelight to starboard showing green

3)   Optional: two masthead lights, one red above and one green below

 

Or

 

1)   One all around light showing red to port, green to starboard and white astern

 

Or

 

If the above requirements are not practical, have ready an electric torch (flashlight) showing a white light that you must use far enough in advance to prevent a collision. 

 

Sailboats from 7 Meters to 20 Meters (23’ to 65’7”)

 

1)   One sidelight to port showing red

2)   One sidelight to starboard showing green

3)   One stern light

4)   Optional: two masthead lights, one red above and one green below

 

Or

 

5)   One all around light showing red to port, green to starboard and white astern

 

Sailboats 20 Meters (65’7”) and over

 

1)   One sidelight to port showing red

2)   One sidelight to starboard showing green

3)   Optional: two masthead lights, one red above and one green below

 

Or

 

4)   One all around light showing red to port, green to starboard and white astern

 

 

Boat at Anchor

 

If a boat is anchored in or near a narrow channel, fairway or anchorage, or where other boats normally navigate, it needs to display a particular array of lights, so approaching craft know the boat is anchored.

 

1)   One all around white light at night

2)   One ball during the day.

 

Or

 

3)   Any available lights to illuminate decks.

 

 

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