*Common Navigation Lights & Sound Signals*
By: Eli
25 OCT 2002

All vessels which are underway in areas of restricted visibility are required to display running lights. All vessels are also required to have a sound signal onboard. Donít take this as gospel. Different size boats require different things. Check at your local marine store or contact a Coast Guard unit to find out what you need.

Common Navigation Lights
Port light (left side of boat)= Red
Starboard light (right side of boat) = Green
Both have 112.5 degree arc of visibility.

Masthead light= White
Has a 225 degree arc of visibility. It faces forward on the mast of a vessel

Towing light= Amber
Has a 135 degree arc of visibility. It faces aft(backwards) on a vessel

Stern Light= White
Has a 135 degree arc of visibility. It also faces aft on a vessel.

Sailboat masthead light= red over green and used in conjunction with the red and green sidelights OR masthead configuration is red+green+white. Meaning there is a single light on the top of the mast that displays the red, green & white lights.

Sound signals
Short blast = approx. 1 second long

Prolonged blast = approx. 4-6 seconds

Vessels less than 12 meters in length are required to have a means of making an efficient sound signal on board. Examples are; whistle, horn, bell.

Vessels of 12-100meters in length must have a whistle and bell. Check for your requirements.

Vessels of 100 or more meters in length must have a whistle, bell and gong.

Common Sound Signals

1 short blast= altering your course to starboard

2 short blasts= altering your course to port

3 short blasts= operating astern propulsion

2 prolonged/1 short blast= I am overtaking you on your starboard side

2 prolonged/2 short blast= I am overtaking you on your port side

1 prolonged blast= bend signal (navigating around a bend in a channel where you canít see whatís ahead of you)

5 short blasts= Danger signal (A vessel has had a man overboard or will be making sudden course changes. Sounded as a caution to warn other vessels of danger)

Continuous short blasts= distress signal

In areas of restricted visibility these signals must be sounded:
Anchored: rapid ringing of bell for 5 sec. Every minute

Aground: 3 distinct rings on bell, rapid ringing for 5 sec., 3 distinct rings on bell. Every minute.

Underway and making way: 1 prolonged every 2 minutes

Underway, not making way: 2 prolonged blasts every 2 minutes

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