Georgia Boater Education Course


OPERATING SAFELY IN DARKNESS

We’ve already learned a lot about how to navigate when you encounter another vessel on the water. But what happens at night when your visibility is restricted? Let’s look at how navigation lights are your key to knowing what to do and where to go.

Before we start, it’s important to note that we will be able to tell the difference between a sailboat and a powerboat because a powerboat’s white light is visible from 360 degrees while a sailboat’s is only visible from the stern. Let’s get started.


Overtaking in darkness
Crossing in darkness

POWERBOAT A:

When only a white light is visible, you may be overtaking another vessel. Give way to either side.

 

POWERBOAT A:

When only white and red lights are visible, you are approaching the portleft hand side of a vessel. side of a powerboat. Give way to your starboardright hand side of a vessel. side.

 

POWERBOAT B:

You are being overtaken. Stand on.

POWERBOAT B:

When only white and green lights are visible, you are approaching the starboard side of a powerboat. Stand on.

Approaching head on in darkness
Approaching a sail boat head-on in darkness

POWERBOAT A:

When white, red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a powerboat head-on. Give way to your starboard side.

 

POWERBOAT A:

When only red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a sailboat head-on. Give way to your starboard side.

 

POWERBOAT B:

When white, red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a powerboat head-on. Give way to your starboard side.

 

SAILBOAT B:

When white, red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a powerboat head-on. Stand on.

 
Approaching port of a sail boat in darkness
Approaching starboard of a sailboat in darkness

POWERBOAT A:

When only a red light is visible, you are approaching the port side of a sailboat. Give way to your starboard side.

POWERBOAT A:

When only a green light is visible, you are approaching the starboard side of a sailboat. Give way to your port side.

 

SAILBOAT B:

When white and green lights are visible, you are approaching the starboard side of a powerboat. Stand on.

SAILBOAT B:

When white and red lights are visible, you are approaching the port side of a powerboat. Stand on.

Remember, whenever powerboats cross on the water, the powerboat that is approaching on the port side is the give-way vessel. It’s no different in darkness, only that you need to use navigation lights to know which side is the port side.