CCA Safety Moment: Running Lights Safety Moment

Dear Boston Station Member,


Below is a timely message from our Boston Station Safety Officer, Brian Guck.


Best regards,

Nick Orem, Secretary
Safety Moment

Navigation Lights


Brian Guck
Safety Officer
Boston Station


Last night was Tuesday night racing at the local YC in a small southern New England town. I was sitting on my porch watching the race fleet come up the river after a good night of racing with a classic SW breeze. The sun had set and it was getting dark on the river.

On display was a staggering variety of running lights ranging from none at all to one boat with correct lighting.

Some boats were sailing in, others under power and most running with power and sail; a situation requiring a variety of running light choices.

  • several boats had only a stern light – were their bow lights dis-functional or just not switched on? Did they not have a steaming light?
  • one had a tri color mast head light but was also displaying a steaming light – a confusing combination as a tri color masthead light is to be used only under sail
  • another boat had deck level lighting and was under power without a steaming light – the steaming light is for steaming under power
  • The RC mark boat came in last, in the pitch dark, loaded with inflatable marks with no runnings rights at all. Does this boat even have navigation lights?


This was not a display of seamanship that showed the local YC in a flattering “light”.


It is not uncommon to see small motor boats & fishing boats coming and going in the dark with no lights. Occasionally one sees a stern light but no working bow lights. Quite often the all around white light is mounted too low and cannot be seen all around. Too often the bow lights are out of alignment or are of such poor quality that the demarcation between red and green is not clear.


It is a good time of year for all of us to make sure our runnings lights are in good working order and that we are using them correctly. A quick review of proper running light usage can be found in Chapman’s if you need a refresher.

CCA Safety Moment: Running Lights Safety Moment
Leave a comment