Navigation lights on a boat Types & Requirements

Navigation lights for a powerboat less than 12 meters (39,4") in length

According to the Collision regulations, an operator of a power driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length, and underway, may display, from sunset to sunrise:

powerboat operating at night (less than 12 meters (39,4

Navigation lights for a powerboat more than 12 meters (39,4") in length

According to the Collision regulations an operator of a power driven vessel of more than 12 meters in length, and underway, may display, from sunset to sunrise:

powerboat operating at night (more than 12 meters (39,4

Navigation lights for a sailboat operating at night

The operator of a sailboat operating under sails at night shall, from sunset to sunrise, display:

sailboat operating at night

If less than 20 meters in length, the three lights may be combined at or near the top of the mast.

If less than 20 meters in length, the three lights may be combined at or near the top of the mast.

A sailing vessel may exhibit at or near the top of the mast, two all-round lights in a vertical line: the upper one red and the lower one green. These lights are shown along with the sidelights and sternlight.

two all-round lights in a vertical line: the upper one red and the lower one green.

For sailboats operating under motor power:

Navigation lights for a vessel engaged in fishing

  • Sidelights,

  • Sternlight and

  • All-around lights in a vertical line, the upper being red over white light. When making way through the water.

vessel engaged in fishing

Navigation lights for a vessel engaged in trawling

vessel when engaged in trawling, which means dragging a dredge net or other fishing apparatus through the water, shall display:

  • Two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being green and the lower white. When making way through the water,

  • Sidelights and 

  • Sternlight.

vessel engaged in trawling

Navigation lights for a power-driven vessel when towing

shall show sidelights, a sternlight, and a towing light in a vertical line above the sternlight, and two masthead lights in a vertical line. When the length of the tow, measuring from the stern of the towing vessel to the after end of the tow exceeds 200 meters, three such lights in a vertical line shall be displayed.

Apart from the regular navigation lights, when a boat tows another vessel in distress or in need of assistance for any reason, shall take all possible measures to show the relation between the towed vessel and the vessel doing the towing. A vessel towing must try to shine a light on the towing cable to make it as visible as possible, so that other boats do not come into contact with the cable.

A vessel being tow shall display sidelights and sternlight.   

Tug boat - tow length less than 200m
Tug boat - tow length under 200m

Navigation lights for a vessel at anchor

At anchor, the operator of a pleasure craft shall display, from sunset to sunrise, in the fore part, an all-around white light. A powerboat anchored at night must display an all-around white light.

Navigation lights at anchor

Navigation lights for kayak or canoe

Navigation lights are also required for human-powered vessels (canoe, kayak) or for a sailing pleasure craft of less than 7 meters in length not under power. When underway, the operator shall, from sunset to sunrise, display, if practical, sidelights and a stern light, but if the operator cannot, he/she must have at hand, a flashlight or lighted lantern emitting a white light which must be lit in enough time to prevent a collision.

Kayak and canoe navigation lights

Navigation lights for a government vessel

Any government vessel or any vessel that is owned or operated by a harbor, river, county or municipal police force may display a blue flashing light to identify itself as such, in the following cases

  • When it is providing assistance in any waters to any vessel or other craft;

  • When it is engaged in law enforcement duties in Canadian waters.

Police boat lights - Government vessel lights

Navigation lights for a power-driven vessel pushing another

A power-driven vessel, when pushing another, shall display the sidelights, a sternlight, and two superimposed masthead lights. 

The vessel being pushed, and not part of a composite unit, must display its sidelights at the bow. When a vessel is pushing another, if both are connected in a rigid, composite unit, they will be regarded as one unit, thus showing the appropriate lights.

Navigation lights Examples

Sailing vessel seen from starboard side

Sailing vessel seen from starboard side

Sailing vessel seen from the front

Sailing vessel seen from the front

Power-driven vessel anchored

Power-driven vessel anchored

Power-driven vessel seen from starboard side

Power-driven vessel seen from starboard side

Power-driven vessel seen from port side

Power-driven vessel seen from port side

Power-driven vessel seen from the stern (back)

Power-driven vessel seen from the stern (back)