night paddleing

On the lake where I do a lot of kayaking it’s illegal to be out on the water at night without running lights. Any ideas for mounting lights.Some of my best paddles have been under a moon lit sky.

here in OR
it’s legal to paddle (or any human powered vessel) at night with a bright white light to shine AT another boater, should your paths cross. it’s NOT required to have it on at all times and it’s illegal to have green/red running lights unless you are motorized and underway.

I use a 5 cell MAG light (focused beam) with a leash tied on it and keep it under my deck bungies, at the ‘ready’.


South Florida who use miner’s or spelunker’s (sp?)lights. One guy I know uses -wears, that is -a pair -one foward, one astern, when he wears them on his head.

I have some of those variable-pattern flashing or steady, small, lightweight disposable bike lights. I’ll clip one to my headgrar/hat next night go-round.

Night or day,

Paddle On!

-Frank in Mimi

If you want full running lights…
… I’d suggest these:

Other boaters will appreciate “real boat” light scheme - even if it’s not technically required. Not cheap - but rugged, bright enough, burn long, and very simple to set up from in the cockpit. Totally waterproof (to 1000 ft!) and should last for many years.

Here’s the article that convinced me to go this way:

and another endorsement:

Details on mine: The Red and Green are both single LED lights, the White is a 2 LED light. TEKTITE also makes 4 LED versions of these:

You have to call to get the 2 LED version as it’s not listed on the site. Just say you want the same lights that come with their NAVLITE and STERNLITE and they’ll undersand, unless you just order those (see them on link above). I prefer my own placement options and didn’t need the bag and pole so I saved the extra $.

Hey Frank - don’t you know?
Flashing lights are a no-no on the water!

Flashing white = strobe = emergency! Flashing red can be confusing. Neither indicates “vessel”. White could trigger false alarms for recsue crews. Red will either draw boats to you out of curiousity or have them ignore you as something onshore.

Flashing blue lights are only legal inside K-Marts. Flashing green - only in Gulf Breeze or on X-Files reruns!

Your a Boat Captain man! Light up accordingly!

Flashing orange stogie tip is of course exempt as you - Paddle on!

Night Lights
In Texas we are required to carry a bright white light, in non-motorized vessels. It could be a flashlight, headlamp or a lantern. I use a headlamp with a halogen beam. A popular light is the battery operated stern light for boats. It uses D cell batteries and turns on and off with a switch. Most folks figure some way to mount the post temporarily on their kayak.

Recently a kayaker was killed by a drunk boater at night on a lake near Austin. The kayaker had no light. The light may not have saved him from a drunk powerboater, but then again maybe it would have.

Night Lighting
I have done a lot of running at night on a large lake filled with power boats. Some are drunk and going 90 mph. I have been either under power or sail. Even sober and being very alert, it is very difficult to see boats on a moonless night. The standard light are too dim. Sailboat lights are too high. Both can be confused with lights on the shore.

When paddling we have one big advantage. We are quiet and can hear other boats. I have not paddled yet at night but plan on carrying a high power spotlight (West Marine has a rechargable I am thinking about). If I hear another boat I will shine the light on their boat and then on mine. I will not go out Saturday night.

Our eyes have 3 color cones that detect the light (red, green, and blue as I recall). Most light at night is blue so you want to prevent those cones from bleaching which makes then less sensitive. Any sort of light that you use will reduce your night vision. Red light affects the blue cones the least so use it if you need to use a light.

I have thought about running with red stobes set up so they did not shine on my craft.

I run Sunset trips on the Hudson River two to three times a week. We set everyone up with a headlamp (Princeton Tech Scout) and a white light on the back of the paddler’s pfd (Krianna Krill - electro-phosphor - these things last forever) All the guides wear an adjustable beam lamp. As has been said earlier in this post, you can hear traffic coming and focus the head lamps at them. Even the LEDs, while not made for spotlight purposes are very visible at range and when you get a half dozen to ten of these lights travelling as a pack on the water it looks like a high powered group of will-o-wisps.

See you on the water,


Dive Shops
I picked up marker lights from the local dive shop for about $12 apiece. They are available in red, white and amber. They can also be found on e-bay and probably a zillion other places. for my own sake I always take my headlamp

Never heard of such a thing, but…

– Last Updated: Jun-16-04 7:54 AM EST –

Some places are different. Easy!! Tape glow sticks to your bow & stern. OR, if you have a plastic or poly boat? Toss an "el cheapo" flashlight on the floor under the deck somewhere.. It will make the whole boat glow. End of problem.

As I started to say.... I have heard of some lakes being illeagel for "motorized vessels" without lights, but others???

Kinda, like vehicals made before 1967 not having seatbelts in them. They were made before seatbelts were really thought of. You legally don't have to wear them in those vehicals & you don't even "have to" put them in the vehical (Went through all this with the authorities when I owned my 64' ). Like a boat "manufactured for sale" without lights.......

Paddle easy,


when we did a night paddle -boat was an eerie glow-in-the-dark almost lime light green.

When I went to the 4th Annual South Florida Multiclub Picnic at Ft Myers last month, there was a fellow there that had his yak outfitted with the full running lights setup, fore & aft, port & starboard, and semi-aloft on a short staff, all rigged to an under-deck battery. Serious stuff…

But it’s always a good idea, at night, to carry a waterproof flashlight you can use in hand to see, as well as a light that lights your boat so others can see YOU. When you paddle the mangroves and mangrove trails, in the dark, sometimes there’ll be a wayward brach, or a spiderweb or whatever, that the flash downstream every so often can help you avoid as you

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami

In the live free or die state of NH

– Last Updated: Jun-16-04 12:53 PM EST –

you need a 360 degree white light. Lots of folks use a c-light on the deck in a suction cup holder and a headlamp to make up for the dead zone of the paddlers shadow. I have no idea whether this really meets the requirements. Scott B, raddog and other NH denizen would know.

like the cross-Key largo waterway, I’ll turn it on anyway just to let the boats coming up from behind know I’m there… The ones coming towards me I can relatively easily work to avoid -Don’t like the idea of one of them coming up behind me, even in a relatively lit place like that, especially if there’s an oncoming boat and all of us cross paths at the same time.

Irrational fear of getting pushed into the channel wall or getting that run-down feeling I guess… I think that, besides the various flash patterns, there’s a steady light option as well.

Just want to be seen enough so I’m still around to

Paddle On!

-Frank in Miami

Yeah - no kayak lane! NM

Problems with flashlights
The problems with flashlights/lanterns (no matter how bright) for on water visibility:

You have to already know a boat is closing with you

You then have to get it, turn it on, and shine it at the boat.

Meanwhile you had to take a hand off your paddle, and stop paddling to use it.

As a result you lose ability to maneuver. Sitting in one spot or drifting may be exactly what you do NOT want to do.

Most have limited burn time.

Truly powerful ones are heavy and large.


Flashlights may “work on a pond” - but does not add up to a good visibility plan for night paddling with other boat traffic. Read the link to the article above. Real tests, real boats.

By the time you get your flashlight out - and get the other boat’s attention - you could have more easily just paddled out of the way in most situations. IMO that would be safer/smarter than staying put and frantically waving a flashlight around and expecting the other boat to do ALL the maneuvering (assuming they see you).

If you have the time to get out a flashlight and get someone’s attention with it - how much danger were you really in anyway?

Do of course carry a good flashlight anyway. Lot’s of things they are good for…

Light mounting
There are various options. Many boating supply sites offer them. Your needs are simple. A bright 360 degree white light in a fixed position on deck. Old Town has a fishing pole/light type mounting system for their rod holder/light mast configuration. Worked well on my Sons boat. Tons of lighting options out there. The internet is great for “yahooing” and finding things.

Please avoid the suggestions of shining a bright flashlight AT the oncoming vessel. Your required to have a light burning already. Not break one out and wave it or target it at the approaching vessel.

Please avoid other suggestions such as “glowsticks” or illuminating the interior of your boat… You simply need a white light that shines from all angles, preferably a tad elevated since we sit so low on the water.

Your in a small manueverable craft too so you will generally have a good advantage of moving out of the way should you not be seen.

Have fun!

I have a headlight I got from good old Wal-Mart that has either a single red LED or 2 white focused LED’s (Energizer - $12.77). It isn’t waterproof but hopefully I won’t be paddling in conditions at night that will have me needing to roll.

I also have a very bright 4 focused LED flashlight that I use to signal boats that are approaching(all that is legally required). If I am paddling in an area that has a lot of powerboat traffic I also use red green and white lights that I also bought at Wal-Mart. They are really cool LED “Glow Sticks”. They are much brighter than chemical glow sticks and they last much longer as well. the best part about them is that they are also actually cheaper at $2.48 each! I stick the red and green under my deck rigging like Grayak does and I stick the white one in the strap of my headlight in the back.

Just a 360* white light would indicate to other boats that you are a vessel at anchor. That could possibly be dangerous if someone saw you and assumed you were at rest and then suddenly saw you again in another spot. Perhaps that is why the law is the way it is?

In my state and many others the comment, “Please avoid the suggestions of shining a bright flashlight AT the oncoming vessel. Your required to have a light burning already. Not break one out and wave it or target it at the approaching vessel.” is the opposite of the truth.


Thanks for the correction!

– Last Updated: Jun-16-04 12:44 PM EST –

On the light. I must have been thinking of anchoring!

I dug up some links on the lights I mentioned. You can get them at Wal-Mart.

The “Glow Stick” type lights are here($2.48):

I’ve been told by other boaters that they were very visable.

This is the very handy headlight I use now($12.77). I used to be a Tika fan until I found this:

This is an AWESOME camping light ($12.77)

Kayak Lights
Have’t read all the posts here but have read this topic numerous times before on other boards. DON’T GET CREATIVE. Follow the USCG regulations. Running lights have specific meaning, e.g. yellow strobe - indicates a hovercraft etc. Many years ago on my Masters unlimited exam I had to idenify what lights a mine sweeper displayed, sweeping for mines at night on a Western River.

There are three distinct set of rules and regulations for International Waters, Inland Waters and Western Rivers (not necessarily in the western U.S.). Again, follow the USCG regulations.