Boating at Night

Boating at night is a very enjoyable way to end the day and enjoy the summer season on our pond. Nighttime boating traffic has noticeably increased during these times. Please boat safely at night and obey all of the RI State Laws rules and regulations.

Speed is very dangerous at night. Please go slow!!!

Also, proper lighting is required.

  • Vessels must be equipped with proper navigation lights
  • Lights must be used between sunset and sunrise
  • Lights must be used when visibility is limited
  • If not underway or anchored the white masthead light must be on
  • Waterskiing/Wakeboarding and Personal Watercraft use is prohibited between sunset and sunrise


Boating at night can make even familiar waters unrecognizable. Visual depth perception is lessened and lights from the shore can be difficult to distinguish from those on the water. To make nighttime boating safer, keep the following in mind.

Navigation lights

Vessels are required to show navigation lights from sunset to sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility. Understanding these light displays will provide invaluable information to the boater, as these lights can help the boater determine the length of another vessel, its orientation in relation to

your boat, and the general direction in which it is headed. All operators must ensure that their vessel’s navigation lights are working and that the positioning and distance from which they can be seen meet federal regulations.

It is important to know which navigation lights you will see from another boat in certain situations. This can help you determine if you are in an overtaking, meeting, or crossing situation. The following chart illustrates the navigation lights you will see from various angles:


Whenever you see a red navigation light from another vessel, give way. It is the stand-on vessel. According to the Rules of the Road, it has the right of way.

If you see both the red and green sidelights of another boat, it is coming straight toward you. You should take action to change course in order to avoid collision.


There seems to be a lot of questions and confusion regarding safe nighttime boating and navigational lights that are required on your boat.

A lot of newer boats come equipped with bright docking lights in the front. These docking lights are NOT to be used when out at night on the pond. It is illegal and very dangerous. It gives the false impression to other boaters that the boat with the white light is moving away from you when in fact it is coming straight at you. With the docking lights on it makes it impossible to see the Red and Green Lights. Per RI Law Red and Green only on the front or side of your vessel. White light on your stern.

  • When you see only a white light, you are overtaking another vessel. It is the stand-on vessel whether it is underway or anchored. You may go around it on either side.
  • When you see a green and a white light, you are the stand-on vessel. However, remain alert in case the other vessel operator does not see you or does not know the navigation rules.
  • When you see a red and a white light, you must give way to the other vessel! Slow down and allow the vessel to pass, or you may turn to the right and pass behind the other vessel.

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