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I was out at night with some friends last week. I have always been under the assumption that a white stern light was required while running at night. They both said that it was a common misconception and the stern light was only required while at anchor. Below are the CG regulations.

It's confusing when they talk about masthead lights v. sternlight. I'm still pretty sure you have to run a white light at night. What do you guys think?



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.
 

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I got a ticket when I was fishing an afternoon bass tournament on Fish River in Baldwin County Alabama for not having my stern light on when I was coming in right at dark. The Officer said its has to be on 30 minutes after sunset and must be visible from 360 degrees. Cost me $279(OUCH). So I would have it on once it gets close to sunset.
 

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I got a ticket when I was fishing an afternoon bass tournament on Fish River in Baldwin County Alabama for not having my stern light on when I was coming in right at dark. The Officer said its has to be on 30 minutes after sunset and must be visible from 360 degrees. Cost me $279(OUCH). So I would have it on once it gets close to sunset.
It's not just a before sunrise/after sunset deal. It's in low light conditions or in low visibility conditions.
 

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I got a ticket when I was fishing an afternoon bass tournament on Fish River in Baldwin County Alabama for not having my stern light on when I was coming in right at dark. The Officer said its has to be on 30 minutes after sunset and must be visible from 360 degrees. Cost me $279(OUCH).

Be glad that's all it cost you. A friend said he was in Ala on the intercoastal waterway coming in from night fishing. Said he had a 20" bar LED light mounted on the front of his boat, sorta like a headlight, so he could see better.
Said there was no other boats on the water (sometime after midnight) except for the
Ala game-warden that stopped him and gave him a $500+ fine for running that light.
Told him it could blind other boaters. Wow, no other boats, couldn't a warning have sufficed? Maybe the Fl registration played a role in it?
 

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Be glad that's all it cost you. A friend said he was in Ala on the intercoastal waterway coming in from night fishing. Said he had a 20" bar LED light mounted on the front of his boat, sorta like a headlight, so he could see better.
Said there was no other boats on the water (sometime after midnight) except for the
Ala game-warden that stopped him and gave him a $500+ fine for running that light.
Told him it could blind other boaters. Wow, no other boats, couldn't a warning have sufficed? Maybe the Fl registration played a role in it?
I live on the water in Gulf Breeze and was coming home one night after night fishing for bull reds with my two young sons. I had an led light bar mounted to the front of my T-top for the same reason, however I knew it was “illegal”. I use it for coming in my channel, intermittently and so-on. I was stopped while using it a little longer than intermittently. FWC officer noticed the children and we were all legal he gave me a non written warning and sent me on my way. I’ve since bought a new boat and will likely mount one to this top as well. When I’m fishing at night with children I like to be lit up like an oil rig! It’s also great for coming in my channel and checking the location of can buoys in the bay.
 

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Corpsman, your friends are wrong...and if the right boat outrun the from behind at night...they would be dead wrong. While a small boat MAY run a separate mast and sternlight, at minimum, they are required to run a 360° light, mounted centerline on the vessel or as close to centerline as possible( most outboard are off center) . I usually mount mine on the engine cowling.
 

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I agree with all of you. They were just dang wrong.
A stern light is not the same as a mast light or 360 light.

A stern light is only visible from when viewing the boat from behind.

A mast, or 360 light, is visible from all sides (hence the name 360 light!)

The mast light, or 360 light, does NOT have to be attached to the stern. It can be on the center console, or on top of the t-top, or whatever - it just hast to be visible from any angle.
 

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oh, oh Mr Kotter, so you will know which way it's going? :yes:
You missed my point. I understand why the red/green. My point was, why would you have lights visible from the side and front, but be totally blacked out from behind? Running up behind a slow moving boat at night, that does not have a stern (or all-around) light, is a good way for someone to get hurt.
 

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You missed my point. I understand why the red/green. My point was, why would you have lights visible from the side and front, but be totally blacked out from behind? Running up behind a slow moving boat at night, that does not have a stern (or all-around) light, is a good way for someone to get hurt.
A "stern" light is NOT a 360/Mast light.

They are two totally different lights.
 

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A "stern" light is NOT a 360/Mast light.

They are two totally different lights.
Yes, they are different lights BUT they are both white and both can be seen from behind. The point I was trying to make is that it is a very good idea (and legally required) that you have a white light that is visible from behind, so that an overtaking vessel does not run up your a#&.


Anyone that is going to run their boat in the dark should at least know which lights to turn on!
 

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A stern light is not the same as a mast light or 360 light.

A stern light is only visible from when viewing the boat from behind.

A mast, or 360 light, is visible from all sides (hence the name 360 light!)

The mast light, or 360 light, does NOT have to be attached to the stern. It can be on the center console, or on top of the t-top, or whatever - it just hast to be visible from any angle.
On a powerboat you have to have a white light visible all the way around. Under a specific length, I think 39 ft, that MAY be accomplished with a single fixture. On a sailboat, the white light only has to be visible from the stern while under sail but all around under power. Thus they have a "steaming light" that fills in the arc the stern light doesn't.


At anchor, both power and sail show only an all around white light. On typical CC fishing boats, the same light is used for both functions. Of course, both power and sail have to have the red/green sidelights underway.
 

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A stern light is not the same as a mast light or 360 light.

A stern light is only visible from when viewing the boat from behind.

A mast, or 360 light, is visible from all sides (hence the name 360 light!)

The mast light, or 360 light, does NOT have to be attached to the stern. It can be on the center console, or on top of the t-top, or whatever - it just hast to be visible from any angle.
Try, try again. A 360° light MAY be used instead of a mast light and a stern light on a small vessel, but a mast light covers 225° and a stern light covers 135°, giving 360 degree coverage.

Basic seamanship.
 

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Well all of this is very informative but none of it really answers my question …. does a chem light zip-tied to the top of a stick that's duck-taped to your outboard cowling make ya legal in Texas? And how long does the stick have to be?
 
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