IMPORTANT: Please note, this blog is intended for informational use only and does not constitute legal advice for boaters. Always check with your local authority for the most up-to-date information.
We all know that, as much fun as boating can be, there are plenty of rules and regulations that ensure it’s a safe activity for all involved. One of the most important regulations involves your boat’s lighting. In this guide we’ll discuss the requirements for navigation lights, why they’re important, and how to choose the right navigation light for your boat.
What is a Navigation Light?
A navigation light is to a boat as headlights are to a car. Put simply, navigation lights provide visibility to your boat, let other boaters know where you’re at in the water, and help to prevent vessel collisions in dark or low visibility conditions.
There are four different locations that one might find navigation lights on a boat, each with unique purposes and specifications:
- Masthead Light: These lights are white and should always be located above the sidelights. These lights are designed to create a 225° arc (from 112.5° on the port side to 112.5° on the starboard side)
- Sidelights: These lights are designed to alert other boaters to your boat’s orientation. Port sidelights are always red and starboard sidelights are green. Both should illuminate the area from straight ahead to 112.5° aft
- Stern Light: These lights should be white and create a full circle around the boat by illuminating the area directly aft and 67.5° forward on each side.
- All-Around Light: These lights are white, should be mounted at the highest point of your vessel, and should illuminate 360° around the boat.
Which Boats Require Navigation Lights?
In short, all boats require navigation lights to be used between sunset and sunrise. These lights are integral to on-the-water safety and are a necessity on any vessel. Depending on the size and type of your boat, however, the visibility distance required may differ.
Generally, all boats need at least 2 nautical miles of visibility from every navigation light on board. The larger the boat, the more visibility will be required.
Choosing the Right Navigation Light for Your Boat
Especially if you’re adding aftermarket boat accessories, like wakeboard towers, it’s your responsibility to ensure your boat has the proper lighting and continues to meet lighting requirements. When you add a tower to your boat, this will become the highest point on your boat and, therefore, the place a navigation light is needed.
That’s why Monster Tower offers a 360-degree navigation light that can be mounted quickly and easily on your boat! Or, if you’re shopping for a new tower for your boat, our MTK wakeboard tower features an integrated tow point navigation light.