Due to the current rapid technical advancement in boat lights; both aesthetic and navigational, recreational boat owners currently have more choices than ever when upgrading or installing their boat’s lighting. However, the USA Coast Guard and other regional and national coast guard agencies require boat owners to be aware that some of the current new boat lights are illegal and make it easier for boats to collide. The USA Coast Guard has also found out that some lights sold for navigational purposes do not meet national and international navigation requirements. Aesthetic lighting like underwater lights and LED ropes have also been found to go against light provisions of the nautical rules of the road.
Another key factor to note is that many boat manufacturers of recreational boats do not have the correct understanding of the rules that govern proper installation of navigation lights. It is the responsibility of a boat owner to make sure that their boat’s navigational and recreational lights meet the set-out rules, requirements and regulations found in the Navigation Rules; Inland and International. These three boat light installation tips will help any boat owner to adhere to these rules.
Navigation and aesthetic lights must be approved by the USA Coast Guard. Some manufacturers knowingly or unknowingly stock and sell navigation lights that do not meet the laid down regulations and specifications. These lights are always cheaper. They also do not provide the proper light brightness, color, and sharpness. They also cut-off crucial angles that boat owners rely on to avoid collisions. The USA Coast Guard has given these four indicators to check to confirm whether the new boat light you are buying meets it’s requirement:
– Must have the USA Coast Guard Approval either as a sticker on the light itself or an accompanying form.
– It must have the correctly rated visibility of the light in the correct nautical miles.
– The light must meet the ABYC A-16, 4 specifications.
– The light must have a Tested By: Laboratory name indicator. Please note that the laboratory must be approved by the USA Coast Guard.
– The model name and manufacturer of the light must be prominently placed on the surface of the light.
2. Correctly installed.
The USA Coast Guard has noted that some boat owners have wrongly installed unapproved green and red LED strip lighting on the boats bow which hinders some boats avoid collisions. Another crucial tip to observe when installing lights on your boat is steering clear of lights that can be confused with other vessels. Installing flashing blue lights will have your boat confused with a law enforcement vessel. From a distance, a wave action plus a steady rocking of below the waterline blue high-intensity light will present your boat as a police vessel.
3. Hampering visibility and vision.
During sunset and sunrise, it is important that the person behind the wheel has and maintains their night vision. Therefore, the number one goal when installing on or above deck lights is that these lights must be kept away from the navigator’s eyes. Glare from navigation or recreational lights can be a huge problem. Reflection from aesthetic lights like LED rope lights which are normally and wrongly wrapped around the helm of a navigation station can and will hinder eyesight.
Proper and correct lighting while at sea in the night can be a matter of life and death. Kindly follow these boat light installation tips and you will keep your boat, yourself and passengers and other boats near you safe.