What color is on the starboard side of a boat?

What color is on the starboard side of a boat?

People often talk about what color is on the port side of a boat, but there’s one important thing that many forget: boats actually have two sides. The other one is called the starboard side. The word “starboard” comes from an old English word meaning “right-handed” because sailors used to steer ships with a right hand.

As per rule the color of the port side of a boat is red. So what color can we expect on the starboard side? Answer. Green (As per rule green is a starboard side color)

Boat starboard side green light
Boat starboard side green light

As you see from the picture above, on the starboard side there is a green light and on the port side, there is only one red light. Many things cause the lights to shine in the directions they do. But the most important thing is the source of light that shines on the lights.

When the lights shine the way they are supposed to shine, it means that there are no troubles. This means that the boat has been maintained well over the years. So the longer the lights shine on, the better the condition the boat is.

Of course, there are also a few things that may have changed, for example, a part of a light or an entire light can fail and become broken. When this happens, you have to replace the failed part or entire light.

And some other things may affect the lighting system. The wiring that the lights are connected to might has been damaged by something like water. In this case, the light may start to flicker, blink, or even not work at all. So if your boat seems to have a problem, you must check its lighting.

The color of the starboard side boat light

The vessel’s starboard side light is green. (see the above picture)

Starboard sidelight arc

A starboard sidelight is an unbroken light over an arc of 112.5° that is visible to other vessels approaching from the right side or head-on but not necessarily seen by boats coming in on a port (left) tack. The same arc is applied for the portlight on a boat.

Types of boat light

Boat navigation lights
Boat navigation lights/ image: west marine

There is 4 main navigation light on a boat. They are as follow :-

Sidelights – The red and green lights on the sides of a boat. They are displayed at the same height. Greenlight is called starboard sidelight and Red light is called port sidelight.

Masthead Light – The white light at the top of a boat’s mast.

Stern light – The white light at the back of a boat.

All round light – 360 degrees white all round light.

Navigation light rules

All Navigation lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise. Navigation lights help boats be seen from a long distance. When you see such lights, it gives you the chance to take action and keep boats safe.

If you ever come across a boat showing navigation lights from the wrong side of the boat, it’s probably just because someone made a mistake by accidentally swapping all the lights around. You might even want to mention this to the boat’s crew as they might not know about it.

If a boat forgets to turn on its navigation lights during the night, it’s probably because someone forgot about them or because of some other reason that can be easily fixed.

Boat’s anchor light and its color

So what about anchor lights? Those are usually white lights that boats display at night. You don’t often see them just because they’re usually kept off until a boat is actually anchored somewhere. Still, there are some boats that show anchor lights 24 hours a day. They usually do this to let everyone know they’re anchored at an isolated place where help is needed.

Special lights for boat

Some boats also display special lights for different reasons when going out at night. For instance, maritime pilots have a specific light on top of their mast so that other larger ships can keep them in sight during the night. If you notice such lights, don’t worry, and make sure to contact the pilot in charge to see if everything is okay.

Side lights seen from birds eye view
Side lights seen from birds eye view

Some people sometimes confuse navigation lights with danger lights (or warning lights), but they’re actually different. Danger lights are used on vessels to warn other vessels of potential dangers ahead.

So what about the big red and green lights you often see guiding boats through narrow Canal locks? Those are called channel markers.

Final Words

The starboard side light on a boat can be confusing to anyone who’s never owned a boat. This light is usually green in color. This light is meant to warn passing boats of your presence, and its position, if you’re anchored, or if you’re moving.

The light on the port side of the boat is usually red and serves a similar purpose to the starboard side light, but the color can vary depending on the manufacturer. Most people also use this light to indicate that you’re underway (moving), and to alert others of your presence.

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