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Navigational Lighting 101

Navigational Lighting 101

You might as well accept the fact that if you like to spend long days on your boat, you’ll eventually stay out a little too late and find yourself making your way back to the dock in total darkness. Not only can this be a scary situation if you do not the correct lights but navigational lighting is the law and from sunset to sunrise navigational lighting must be in good working order and in use.

The U.S. Coast Guard has very specific guidelines on navigation lighting. It depends on the length of your vessel, its overall use, and other various factors. But for the sake of brevity here are the requirements for recreational boating in vessels under 39 feet in length:

  1. Masthead Light: a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel
  2. Side Lights: a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side
  3. Stern Light: a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern

Rule 20(b) The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights which cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these rules or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out.

Here at we carry a full line of the required navigational lights to keep your Pontoon Boat looking good and keep you safe and ticket free. See our complete lighting section here.

If you want to know more about your state's boating laws and how they specifically can affect you, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators offers a reference guide. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard State Boating Laws page to view the various laws and requirements here:

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  • Scott Reynolds