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Louisville Area Canoe & Kayak Group Message Board Main Forum › Nightime lighting requirements for kayaks

Nightime lighting requirements for kayaks

Greg M.
user 8291008
Jeffersonville, IN
Post #: 790
The lighting requirements for kayaks at night is a topic that comes up occasionally. And while I'm not an expert in this field, I believe this is the best answer:

You must carry a light with you (not attached to the boat) that you can display in time to avoid a collision which is visible from 2 miles away. You can't display other lights that can be confused with any of the navigation lights like those on motorboats or sailboats unless you display all of the required lights.

USCG Rule 25(d)(II):­

301 KAR 6:020 Section 2(b)(1):­

IC 14-15-2-13(b):­

Every state I've checked has similar laws, and the USCG site states these are the same as the international laws. If anyone has sources stating differently, I'd appreciate it.
dan b.
user 23933082
Glasgow, KY
Post #: 3
To enlighten further on the subject I double checked the KY Boating Guide published by KY. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, the agency responsible for boating law enforcement. Their publication states "from sunset to sunrise all vessels shall display a steady white light visible 360 degrees" and goes on to state "manually propelled vessels shall carry a white light to display in sufficient time to avoid a collision". That's really all it has to say on the subject and could be interpreted with ambiguity like so many govt. regs. As an aside, I found battery operated 360 degree white lights that attach by suction cup at
Greg M.
user 8291008
Jeffersonville, IN
Post #: 791
Yea, a lot of us have been confused by that type of casual wording, but I think the actual laws are more clear in that they don't apply to kayaks. You have to read fairly carefully, and the confusion is compounded by the fact that there's no common word used to describe a kayak (manually powered, non-motorized, oar driven), and they're not organized or formatted in a constant manner. So far, I haven't found any laws that appear to apply to requiring kayaks to display any type of constant light.
Nate G
Floyds Knobs, IN
Post #: 274
Manually propelled vessels shall carry a white light to display in
sufficient time to avoid a collision.­
Page 42.

For what its worth, Greg and I have researched the hell out of this and done it. I run dark. I carry a bright strobing flashlight/ steady burn on me.

I stay out of the NO LOITERING zone, and pay attention.
http://www.lrl.usace....­ Maps and info here.
A former member
Post #: 165
Its fairly easy to get some concise information on this. Lt. Mike Fields is the boating law administrator for the state of Kentucky. He works at KY F&W, and you can generally reach him at work M-F from 9 to 5.

Mark R.
user 14346265
Louisville, KY
Post #: 15
What I have found when asking questions about different waterways is that the laws vary by who is in charge. Corps of Engineers has their own rules (Big South Fork); Ohio River is coast guard; Kentucky River would be KFWD.

Need to check based on what water you are on.

Pat D.
Taylorsville, KY
Post #: 12
I prefer to use both a 360 degree constant light that I mount near the stern, so it doesn't affect my night vision, and also carry a handheld to tuurn on if necessary to notify oncoming traffic of my location. Kind of the "belt and suspenders" approach. I don't expect to win any collisions with powered crafts, so I use both of the mentioned lights for "boats under oar/paddle" power.
John B.
user 7671064
Bowling Green, KY
Post #: 99
Pat Dour has the elegant solution. USACE in TN says we only need to display a white light. I carry a small LED camping light that I place behind me. I also where a headlamp with a main white light, and extra red and green beams so that when you are talking in a small group you are not blinding each other.

Also, the Big South Fork is Managed by the National Park Service, not the USACE. Uniforms are the same except for the agency patches.
Greg M.
user 8291008
Jeffersonville, IN
Post #: 798
Does USACE actually have their own boating lighting requirements?

The problem with displaying a constant white light is that you likely have to comply with all of the lighting requirements. Both the state's and USCG rules state you can optionally comply with the lighting requirements for motorized or sailboats, but not that you can display some but not all. And they also state you can't display anything that might be confused for one of the required lights.
user 145846462
Louisville, KY
Post #: 4
Thanks to all who posted info. on yak night lighting; although I have not seen any real consistency with local regs., when it comes down to it, it's up to you to make your presence known and then get the hell out the way. Sure, it's important to me to be aware of the law but just practically speaking, I want to know what the #bliss (my kayak) looks like in traffic--from both water and land (and highway); what works for me is reflective tape on front and back of boat and on paddles (and on me if I have the cameras along), a white light on the stern and a headlamp...I encourage fellow paddlers to not use a light so huge it compromises your night vision. So, when you get to the intersection of "the law" and "common sense"--look both ways =)
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