4. Preserve your night vision
Dim all the onboard lights including courtesy lights, instrument and chartplotter backlighting and cabin lights. Your night vision can take 20 minutes to adapt back to darkness after a flash of light. Use flashlights with a vision-preserving red filter and check the plotter only when needed because even when dimmed, it will impact your ability to see out of the boat.
5. Look for the red and green
Running and marker lights are red and green. Entering a harbor in North America, follow the rule: Red, Right, Returning which means keep the red lights to starboard to stay in a safe channel. Consider what a boat looks like under way on the water:
- Red and green lights are forward on either side of the bow and a white light is aft at the stern.
- If you see both red and green, the boat is coming head on.
- If you see white, the boat is ahead of you and/or moving away.
- If in doubt and you see red, stop. That means a boat is crossing your bow and it has the right of way.
Before departing on your voyage, check to make sure your navigation lights are operable so you’re visible to others.