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Old 23-05-2015, 16:05   #1
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COLREGS and navigations lights

I have a catamaran sailing vessel of 15 meters in length, with a tri colour on top of the mast and lower navigation lights fitted at deck level - port, starboard and astern. We thus have two possible options; using either the top of the mast navigation lights - alternatively, the lower navigation lights fitted at deck level.

A good sailing friend of mine recently made a statement which took me by surprise. I searched the COLREGS to verify his statement but I cannot find anything of the sort.

Statement
"When under sail, you MUST burn the tri colour navigation lights on top of the mast. However, when under engine power only, you MUST burn the lower navigation lights - for then you (a sailing vessel of 15 meters) is classified as a fishing vessel. This is the law and this is what you are supposed to do."

Questions
1. Is there any truth that this statement is indeed the law?
2. If not, when does one burn the upper tri colour or the lower set of navigation lights?

Your learned input will settle this issue and will be much appreciated.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:22   #2
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

You can run with either the masthead tricolour or deck level lights when sailing. Motoring you should have your steaming light on and you should not have the tricolour above the steaming light as then you could appear to be a fishing boat.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:23   #3
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COLREGS and navigations lights

You can use the masthead tricolour whenever sailing
You can use the deck nav lights whenever sailing and add the steaming light when motoring
You cannot use both sets of lights at the same time

In answer to question 2, which you use when sailing is up to you, depending on your location, visibility of the lights etc. we mainly use our deck level lights as they are brighter and easier to distinguish for other vessels close by, especially in high traffic areas. The masthead is more a backup or far offshore option.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:25   #4
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Revelations View Post
I have a catamaran sailing vessel of 15 meters in length, with a tri colour on top of the mast and lower navigation lights fitted at deck level - port, starboard and astern. We thus have two possible options; using either the top of the mast navigation lights - alternatively, the lower navigation lights fitted at deck level.

A good sailing friend of mine recently made a statement which took me by surprise. I searched the COLREGS to verify his statement but I cannot find anything of the sort.

Statement
"When under sail, you MUST burn the tri colour navigation lights on top of the mast. However, when under engine power, you MUST burn the lower navigation lights - for then you (a sailing vessel of 15 meters) is classified as a fishing vessel. This is the law and this is what you are supposed to do."

Questions
1. Is there any truth that this statement is indeed the law?
2. If not, when does one burn the upper tri colour or the lower set of navigation lights?

Your learned input will settle this issue and will be much appreciated.
You are not allowed to burn the tricolor when under power and you must also burn the mast head light(steaming light). When under Sail you may burn either the tricolor or the deck lights, but not both. I don't know what he's talking about in reference to the "fishing vessel" and apparently neither does he. You do have the option of burning a red over green all 360 degree lights at the top of the mast with your deck lights. See rule 25 for details.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:46   #5
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Bill View Post
You are not allowed to burn the tricolor when under power and you must also burn the mast head light(steaming light).
Thank you for your reply.
I read Rule 25 a couple of times but cannot find anything saying "you cannot burn the tri color under power". Where exactly do I find this rule?
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:52   #6
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Revelations View Post
Thank you for your reply.
I read Rule 25 a couple of times but cannot find anything saying "you cannot burn the tri color under power". Where exactly do I find this rule?
When under power you are not a sailing vessel.

How would you show a masthead forward above the tricolor?
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:57   #7
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Navigation Rules Online

These are very clear. Rule 25 applies to boats in sail. There are little icons you can click to get pictures.
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Old 23-05-2015, 16:59   #8
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
When under power you are not a sailing vessel.

How would you show a masthead forward above the tricolor?
This is the part I missed, when under machine power, power vessel rules apply. Thank you!
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Old 23-05-2015, 18:35   #9
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Revelations View Post
Thank you for your reply.
I read Rule 25 a couple of times but cannot find anything saying "you cannot burn the tri color under power". Where exactly do I find this rule?
Look again at rule 25, which says. :
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
1. sidelights;
2. a sternlight.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 metres (66 ft) in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
What you call "the tri color" is the same thing as the three lights "combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen".

Rule 3(c) says:
The term "sailing vessel" means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.
In summary, on a boat under 66 feet the COLREGS will allow you to use a tricolor instead of sidelights plus stern light but only when sailing without an engine running.
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Old 24-05-2015, 03:24   #10
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by svlamorocha View Post
Look again at rule 25, which says. :
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit:
1. sidelights;
2. a sternlight.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 metres (66 ft) in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
What you call "the tri color" is the same thing as the three lights "combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen".

Rule 3(c) says:
The term "sailing vessel" means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.
In summary, on a boat under 66 feet the COLREGS will allow you to use a tricolor instead of sidelights plus stern light but only when sailing without an engine running.
The tricolor includes the stern light so you don't need a tricolor plus a stern light.

And on a vessel smaller then 20m (like the one of the OP) being it a sail vessel or a motor boat while motoring you can use the tricolor plus a masthead light.

Rule 21:

(b) "Sidelights" means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. In a vessel of less than 20 meters in length the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.

The tricolor as a possibility is not an exclusive of sailboats but of any vessel with less than 20m.
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Old 24-05-2015, 05:48   #11
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polux View Post
The tricolor includes the stern light so you don't need a tricolor plus a stern light.
Sure. That is why I said that the tricolor replaces "sidelights plus stern light". I see that my wording of that sentence was not very clear without the quotes.


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Old 24-05-2015, 05:56   #12
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polux View Post
The tricolor includes the stern light so you don't need a tricolor plus a stern light.

And on a vessel smaller then 20m (like the one of the OP) being it a sail vessel or a motor boat while motoring you can use the tricolor plus a masthead light.

Rule 21:

(b) "Sidelights" means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. In a vessel of less than 20 meters in length the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.

The tricolor as a possibility is not an exclusive of sailboats but of any vessel with less than 20m.
That is not correct. Rule 25 only allows the TRI color for boats under 20 m that are NOT motoring. Rule 21 allows any boat (sail or motor) to replace the red and green sidelights with a BIcolor, not a tricolor.

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Old 24-05-2015, 08:02   #13
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Correct, the "catch" is that a boat under motor power must display a white forward looking light above the red and green side lights. The allowance for centerline mounting red and green does not get around the need for a "steaming" light higher up.
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Old 24-05-2015, 08:59   #14
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Picture worth a thousand words?


http://anchormarineelectric.net/wp-c...ationsopt1.jpg
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Old 24-05-2015, 09:40   #15
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Re: COLREGS and navigations lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
When under power you are not a sailing vessel.

How would you show a masthead forward above the tricolor?
Masthead in this usage refers to a white light (steaming) on the FRONT of the mast. Mast top is right at the top, above all other lights save (on occasion) an anchor light.

Masthead implying the top of the mast is a common error most of us have made.
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