Approved Lights

Navigation lights must be installed in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. They should be mounted to minimise damage by contact with other objects under normal operating conditions.

When night falls it is a completely different world on the water and so vessels that operate from sunset to sunrise, whether at anchor or underway, must carry and exhibit the correct lights.

Navigation Lights

ALL ROUND WHITE LIGHT:

A white light showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 360°.

MASTHEAD LIGHT:

A white light placed over the fore and aft centreline of a vessel, showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225° and fixed to show from anywhere ahead, to just behind the beams of the vessel.

STERNLIGHT:

A white light placed near the stern, showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135°, fixed to show from behind the vessel.

SIDELIGHTS:

A green light on the starboard (right) side, and a red light on the port (left) side of a vessel. Each shows an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5°, and is fixed to show from ahead to just behind the beams of the vessel on its respective side.

On a vessel of less than 20 metres in length, the sidelights may be combined in one light unit, carried on the fore and aft centreline of the vessel.

LED lights

Light emitting diode (LED) lights are becoming popular as they draw less power and are less susceptible to vibration damage. However, they are unserviceable if blown. It is recommended to carry an emergency battery lighting pack to use should the primary navigation light fail. You could also carry red and green glow sticks.

Lights Must Not Be Obscured

Check that there is nothing obscuring your vessel’s navigation lights. The masthead light on many trailer boats is on an extending pole at the stern, and it does not lift high enough to be visible over the cabin top or windscreen. This is dangerous and unacceptable.

Powered Vessel Reference chart

  Vessel Length
<12m 12m up to 50m 50m and over
Light Minimum Range of Visibility
Masthead Lights 2 n mile 5 n mile* 6 n mile
Sidelight 1 n mile 2 n mile 3 n mile
Sternlight 2 n mile 2 n mile 3 n mile
Towing Light 2 n mile 2 n mile 3 n mile
All-round Lights (White, Red, Yellow, Green) 2 n mile 2 n mile 3 n mile

Check your local authority for further details:
https://www.msq.qld.gov.au/safety/navigation-lights.aspx
http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maritime/safety-rules/rules-regulations/night-safety.html
https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/boating-and-marine/boat-and-marine-safety/international-boating-rules/navigation-lights
https://transportsafety.vic.gov.au/maritime-safety/recreational-vessel-operators/kiteboards/safe-operation/buoyage-and-navigation/vessel-navigation-lights
https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/mediaFiles/marine/MAC_B_Navigation_Lights_Boating_Guide.pdf