Spotlights can be used to identify specific hazards, but this should only be done when operating at very slow speed and without affecting other waterway users. It is unsafe to navigate a vessel with light illuminating the water directly ahead because it deprives you and other vessel operators of night vision. It is important to slow down and keep a good lookout.


  • Background lighting on the shore can cause confusion
  • All vessels are required to show some form of lighting
  • A safe speed is a speed at which sufficient action can be taken in time
  • Some vessels moored in approved mooring areas and oyster leases may not be lit.

Power-driven vessels less than 12 metres in length that are underway must show the following lights:

  • a masthead light, sidelights and a stern light, or
  • an all-round white light (visible from 360 degrees), and sidelights.

A power-driven vessel of less than 7 metres in length, whose maximum speed does not exceed 7 knots, may exhibit an all-round white light only and, if practicable, also exhibit sidelights.

Anchored vessels less than 50 metres in length must show an all-round white light. Remember that anchoring in narrow channels and obstructing traffic is prohibited.

Drifting vessels must show the same navigation lights as if they were still making way. For example, if a power driven vessel is drifting it must show its white light.

Rowed or sailing vessels less than 7 metres long must as a minimum have a torch or lantern showing a white light ready to display in time to prevent collision.

Sailing vessels 7 metres or more must show sidelights and a sternlight when underway.

Sailing vessels propelled by engines are considered as power-driven vessels under the regulations and consequently MUST display the same lights.

Vessels with restricted manoeuvrability are required to exhibit the following lights and shapes:

  • three all-round lights in a vertical line with the highest and lowest of these lights being red in colour, while the middle light shall be white.
  • three shapes in a vertical line with the highest and lowest of these shapes being balls and the middle one a diamond

Should the vessel be making way through the water whilst involved in such operations, then a masthead light, sidelights and a stern light are also required.

These vessels could be involved in such operations as fishing or in particular dredging, which occurs on several waterways around the State.