At night all boats are identified by the pattern of lights they display. This pattern of lights also helps you to know which way a boat is heading.

All boats must comply with the regulations concerning lighting. Check that the lights fitted to your boat are showing through the correct arc.

Lights must be switched on from sunset to sunrise and in rain and fog.

Failure to display the correct lights may result in fines or prosecution.

Lighting requirements for all vessels underway

Powerboats over 12m in length

This includes a sailing boat if it is operating its engine. Display red and green sidelights, a white stern light and a white masthead light.

Powerboats less than 12m in length

May combine their stern and masthead lights to one all round white light. Powerboats less than 7m in length and not capable of speeds over 7 knots need only display an all round white light.

Sailing boats

Must show red and green sidelights and a white stern light. These three lights may be combined into a single tri-colour light mounted at the top of the mast on yachts less than 20m in length.


Sailing boats motoring or motor-sailing considered to be powerboats and must display sidelights, a stern light and a masthead light.

Dinghies and Kayaks

All non-powered boats under 7m in length, such as a rowing dinghy, canoe, kayak or sailboat must show a white light or torch to indicate its presence.

Masthead Light

Masthead lights shine forward in a 225 degree arc and must be at least 1m above the sidelights.

Anchor Light

Every boat at anchor must show only a white light visible from all directions between sunset and sunrise.

Range of Lights

On boats up to 12m in length, white lights must have a range of 2 miles and side lights a range of 1 mile.