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Proper Lighting for Paddle Craft Explained

Paddle Craft Lighting Made Easy

What are the lighting requirements for paddle craft being operated at night or in periods of reduced visibility? There’s a lot of confusion and bad information out there. Let’s break it down as simply as we can. You may light your vessel in one of three ways:

  1. Red & Green Sidelights + 135 Degree White Stern Light
  2. 360 Degree White Light
  3. Flashlight

1. Red & Green Sidelights + 135 Degree White Stern Light

Having red and green sidelights (some people call them bow lights or running lights) displaying over an arc of visibility of 112.5 degrees each, in concert with a white 135 degree stern light.

2. 360 Degree White Light

Using a 360 degree white light. (Not an Option in international waters)

3. Flashlight

Having a flashlight ready at hand and displaying it in time to prevent collision.

What does the law say?

THE LAW (copied and pasted from the below Amalgamated link):

Rule 25 - Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars

(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit: Sailing Vessel Underway

(i) sidelights;

(ii) a sternlight.

(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a) may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.

(c) A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a), exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by Rule 25(b).

(d)(i) A sailing vessel of less than 7 meters in length shall, if practicable, exhibit the lights prescribed in Rule 25(a) or (b), but if she does not, she shall ‹‹ exhibit an all around white light or ›› have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

(ii) A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall <> or have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.

(e) A vessel proceeding under sail when also being propelled by machinery shall exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards. A vessel of less than 12 meters in length is not required to exhibit this shape, but may do so.

Links for further reading:

Amalgamated Publication

Complete Publication

>> Check out current Kayak Light options in the gear guide

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