Running lights on boats let you and the other boaters know what is going on. Generally speaking, sailboats under sail have the right of way over power boats. However, sailboats under motor power must obey the rules of power boats. Always keep in mind that having the right of way does not mean that the other boat understands the rules. Boat cautiously and live to spin another yarn at the rum barrel!
Please Note: In these illustrations the Stern Light is shown but may not be visible from the angles shown. We have show the stern lights to help give you the orientation of the other vessel.
In the illustration at right we see the bow of our boat and a white and green set of lights ahead of us. This means that we are approaching a vessel's starboard side and she is headed on a course that will cross our path. Since we see her green, starboard light then we have the right of way. She sees our red, port light and that tells her to vear off and let us pass. However, proceed with caution. If the other boat is a sailboat, she may not recognize us as a sailboat and may think she has the right of way. Be prepaired to vear off and give way.
The Christopher-Jin is now equiped with a Tri-color Mast Head Light in addition to the standard running lights. This makes it clear that she is a sailboat.
In this illustration we see the bow of our boat and a white and red set of lights ahead of us. This means that we are approaching a vessel's port side and she is headed on a course that will cross our path. Since we see her red, port light then we must vear off and give way to the other vessel.
In this next situation we are approaching the starboard side of a vessel that may be a boat at anchor (The top white light would be an all around, 360 degree lamp.) or a sailboat with it's steaming light on. (The Steaming Light faces forward and is not visible from directly behind. Its purpose is to alert other boaters that the vessel is under power and therefore should obey power boat rules.)
If she is an anchored boat, we would not be in danger of hitting her.
If she is a sailboat with a steaming light on then we have the right of way. But keep in mind that there are no absolutes. I know many sailors who cruse at night with their steaming light on but are not motoring. They may think that they have the right of way because they are a sailboat under sail. However, their lights are telling the rest of the boats that they are under motor power. Proceed with caution and be prepaired to vear off and give way.
Go to Project Gallery to see how you can build items for your boat.