Boat safe with the Jobbie Crew

The Jobbie Crew is dedicated to everyone coming home alive, every time. Starting this year we are going to start our own safety series including a way to “Ask the Captian” if you have specific questions related to boating safety that you want to be explained. These laws primarily apply to Michigan and are more geared towards Lake St Clair. Ultimately you are responsible for knowing the laws where you boat at! A knowledgeable captain is a safe captain! Ask the Captain your questions here

With that out of the way let’s get started!

You have spent hundreds of dollars on LED lights. You have them everywhere right? Underwater, around the Fly Bridge and even on the outside! They look awesome and light up the entire area around you! Guess what? If you have them on while you are underway you will get pulled over! Why do you ask? Doesn’t this make it easier to see me? Isn’t this safer? The law is pretty clear and we did verify with the Macomb County Sheriff before we went to print with this. The response we got from them:

Vessels must display their red, green and white lights when underway between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility (fog, storms, etc.) No other lights are permissible while underway. When a vessel is at anchor it can then display its underwater lights or any other lights that do not hinder the operation or visibility of operators of other vessels or from the ability to keep a proper lookout. The law also states that blue lights are only for law enforcement vessels. When people operate their underwater lights they can be misconstrued as meaning something different such as when the vessel moves up and down with the waves making the blue underwater light appear as a flashing blue light.
If you choose, you can look up COLREGS Rules 20,21,22 or Inland Navigation Rules, 33CFR Subchapter E.

OK with that out of the way let’s go over lights. (For this section we are using rules from the DNR and will note if there are any differences between COLREGS and the DNR

Power-Driven Vessels When Underway

All Vessels regardless of size must display navigation lights if underway between sunset and sunrise, or during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.), vessels must be
equipped with and exhibit navigation lights. Remember, power-driven vessels include sailboats operating under engine power.

Let’s look at the definitions of the different lights:

  • Sidelights: These red and green lights are called sidelights
    (also called combination lights) because they are visible
    to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on.
    The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green
    indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side.
  • Sternlight: This white light is seen from behind or nearly
    behind the vessel.
  • Masthead Light: This white light shines forward and
    to both sides and is required on all power-driven vessels.
    A masthead light must be displayed by all vessels when
    under engine power. The absence of this light indicates a
    sailboat under sail.
  • All-Round White Light: On power-driven vessels
    less than 39.4 feet in length, this light may be used to
    combine a masthead light and sternlight into a single
    white light that can be seen by other vessels from any
    direction. This light serves as an anchor light when
    sidelights are extinguished.

If less than 26 ft. long, the required lights are:

  • Red and green sidelights visible from a distance of at least
    one mile away.
  • An all-round white light or both a masthead light and a sternlight
  • These lights must be visible from a distance of at least two miles away. The all-round white light (or the masthead light) must be higher than the sidelights.

If 26 ft. long or longer, the required lights are:

  • Red and green sidelights visible from a distance of at least
    one mile away.
  • A masthead light and a sternlight visible from a distance of
    at least two miles away. The masthead light must be higher
    than the sidelights

All Vessels When Not Underway

  • All vessels are required to use an all-round white light
    between sunset and sunrise whenever they are anchored in the
    waters of or connected to the Great Lakes. It is advisable to
    display a white light always when anchored or adrift at night

Sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars

A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:

  • Sidelights and a sternlight.
  • In a sailing vessel of less than 20 metres in length the lights may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.

  • A sailing vessel underway may, in addition to the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit at or near the top of the mast, where they can best be seen, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower green, but these lights shall not be exhibited in conjunction with the combined lantern permitted by this Rule.

  • A sailing vessel of less than 7 meters in length shall, if practicable, exhibit the lights of this Rule, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision.
  • A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this Rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision.
  • A vessel proceeding under sail when also being propelled by machinery shall exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards.

There are also rules for Commercial FishingVessels not under command or restricted in their ability to maneuverVessels constrained by their draughtPilot vesselsAnchored vessels and vessels aground and Sea Planes

There is no shortage of light out on the water. We found a great Cheatsheet on Amazon that you can keep on your boat to make sure you know what you are looking at plus it has all the navigation rules and is waterproof and is only $10!

Davis Instruments Navigation Rules Quick Reference Card

 

We try to double and triple check everything we do. See something we missed? Do we need to add something? Ask the Captain your questions here

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