A guide to pontoon lights

Sailing at night, or in the winter months when visibility is at its lowest requires that lights be installed on a pontoon boat. Lights help navigate the boat in fog or through other obstacles at night. Apart from being a basic safety prerequisite they also afford an opportunity to decorate the boat.

There are various options for lighting on Pontoon boats.

As pontoon boats are wider than most boats having been designed to accommodate a large number of people, the number of lights also vary from other vessels. However, the most common kinds of lights are as follows:

LED Navigation lights.

The commonest kind of navigational lights for Pontoon boats are LED bulbs, encased in water-resistant structures. These are fixed to the bow of the boat.

Under deck led lights

These are underwater LED lights laid underneath the deck of the boat. They are highly resistant to water and can be used for both decorative and functional purposes.

Emergency lights

Considering that pontoon boat cruises linger on late into the evening and even in the night, safety becomes mandatory. For this reason, some LED lights that can be attached to the stern of the boat or the handrails are used. These provide emergency lighting as well as pleasing aesthetics.


What lights are required on a boat at night

All boats are required to display Navigational lights at night. According to the Inland Navigation Rules, boats are required to exhibit the following kinds of lights between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

  • A red light on the port and green light on the starboard side. Both shine from dead ahead to 112.5 deg on either side. These constitute the sidelights.
  • White lights on the stern which shine aft and 67.5 deg forward on each side.
  • All vessels are required to display a white light visible in all directions whenever they are moored outside a designated mooring area
  • All-round lights are white and shine through 360 deg.
  • Masthead lights are above the sidelights. They are white and shine from aft to 112.5 deg on either side.
  • At anchor, a pleasure craft or a powerboat must display an all-round white light.


Navigation lights requirements vary depending on the length of the boat. Lights with a high visibility range are required on larger boats and they cannot combine sidelights into a single bi-color light.

What must you do if you see another vessel’s white, red or green lights,

If you see the red light of another vessel off your starboard bow, you’ll know that the vessel is crossing from your starboard to port and that you must give way.

When only red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a sailboat head-on. You must give way to your starboard side.

When white, red and green lights are visible, you are approaching a powerboat head-on.


Blue and red flashing lights are restricted to use by law enforcement vessels only.