Night navigation

Skippers should be prepared when boating at night to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Navigation lights

When operating a vessel at night navigation lights are required and must be displayed in accordance with the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea.

All lights should be checked and working before departure. Visit our Lights required on boats page for more information.

Spotlights/lightbars are not recommended as they affect other skipper’s vision.

Safer navigation

For safer night navigation, you can use navigational aid systems called Marine plotters. Marine plotters show where you are in relation to what is shown on marine chart data such as shorelines, water depths, rocks, reefs, navigation buoys and natural features.

It is recommended to use a plotter in daylight to help you become familiar with the way it works and make it easier to use when navigating at night.

Log on and log off

When boating in daylight hours or at night, skippers should always log on and log off with the local Marine Rescue group or leave a trip plan with a responsible person back on shore.


You should check the weather before heading out at night and only proceed if conditions are suitable to your vessel and level of experience. The weather should be monitored during the trip, and you should head home if conditions deteriorate. 

Deckee provides real time information relevant to specific locations, and the open water risk forecast feature can be tailored to your vessel type.

Reduce your speed 

The ability to accurately judge distance is affected at night and objects will be closer than you think. Keep a good lookout, and slow down.

Safety equipment

Everyone should wear a lifejacket while on the water at night. All safety equipment should be in working condition, easily accessible and within reach. Visit our safety equipment page for more information.

It is also encouraged to give a safety briefing to your passengers before setting off at night providing the location and function of safety equipment and what to do in an emergency.

Know the area

You should have good knowledge of the area they are navigating. Marine charts are a great way to get to know what is around.

Good situational awareness also includes knowledge relating to lines from cray pots, vessels at anchor, and sea conditions including tides and swell.

Alcohol and drugs

It is an offence to operate a vessel on a WA waterway and under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Awareness, perception, reaction times, and decision making are all negatively impacted by alcohol and drugs. Find out more about alcohol and drug laws

Page last updated: Thu Nov 16 2023 12:39:16 PM