Do You Need Lights On A Kayak At Night?

Kayaking under a dim moonlight is usually thrilling and mind-blowing.  It brings natural tranquility, calms your spirit, and even reduces stress in your mind.  But paddling on your kayak at night comes with its levels of risk. If there are other night kayakers out there, how can they notice you? How can you increase your visibility to prevent unpleasant, dangerous encounters?

So, how do you prevent all these issues and enjoy your night adventure? Do you need lights on a kayak at night when you want to enjoy a cool ride? All these and more answers are below.

Keep reading to find out more.

Do You Need Lights on A Kayak at Night

You need lights on a kayak at night to ensure adequate visibility and personal safety. Also, the practice is legal in many states. It doesn’t matter whether you are using a motorized or non-motorized kayak; you do need lights. Even though your motorized vessel is about 16 feet long, proper light is necessary.

Do You Need Lights on A Kayak at Night

Generally, when you consider the dangers of moving about in the dark, you don’t need to ask; do you need lights on a kayak at night? But if you’re still wondering about it, check the following reasons below.

1. Maintaining Safety Even with Reduced Visibility

Normally, on-the-water games come with a level of risks even with maximum visibility. So, it will even be harder for your eyes to determine the distance, position, and size of other entities on the water surface in a low-light environment. Besides, likely, your kayak will not be noticeable to others. That’s why; it is crucial to put on lights for your night kayaking to ensure your personal safety. If your kayak is well-furnished with lights, it stands to reason that you will;

  • Have total awareness of your environment
  • Keep on being detectable to the other kayakers
  • Avert “near hit” and possible boating accidents
  • Cruise the sea better
  • Be easy to locate in case of an emergency

2. Rules & Regulations Concerning Night Kayaking

Surely, laws may differ from State to State. However, when you speak of Federal boating regulations, the United States Coast Guards have a laid down standard.

Rules & Regulations Concerning Night Kayaking

“Any boat under oars can display the lights stated in this law for sailing boats. Any vessel that didn’t do so should display a far-reaching white light, a lighted lantern, or keep a handy electric torch illuminating white light that is displayed in ample time to avoid collision.”

This is the regulation 25- of sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars, as stated by USCG Laws. It is also applicable to canoes, kayaks, and “vessels under oars” lesser than 23 feet long.

3. Convenience and Other Uses

Apart from law requirements and safety purses, convenience is another vital factor for using lights on a kayak at night. If you stay in total darkness, it will become an ordeal for you to locate your supplies and gear. Moreover, if you decide to fish as well as have fun, using light can help you attract fish.

Are Kayaks Waterproof?

Kayaks are waterproof, although the level depends on the type. The folding kayak, which is a unique type of skin-on-frame design, is an example. It is built with a foldable frame of aluminum, wood, plastic, or their combination. The skin is made from durable and water-resistant fabric.

Most types contain air sponsons built-in into their hull. This feature allows the kayak to float on the water even though it is flooded.

Are Kayaks Waterproof

Another type of kayak that is waterproof is the inflatable design. This particular kayak type is built with supporting material. For instance, they are built from rubberized synthetic materials, polyurethane, and PVC. Due to these materials, inflatable kayaks are lightweight and airtight.

Fabrics used for Inflatable Kayak Tube

Fabrics used for Inflatable Kayak Tube

Rubberized Synthetic Fabric

Synthetic rubber fabrics (neoprene and Hypalon) are excellent oil-resistant and air-holding materials. Hypalon is used to cover nylon or polyester fabric with an inner covering of neoprene. This fabric is durable and reliable and has a very long lifespan even though it is exposed to harsh environments.

Hypalon Construction

Hypalon construction always consists of butted or overlapped seams, which are also glued. With the butted seam, the design will produce a flat, aesthetic, and airtight seam. It doesn’t produce air gaps, or the ridge which most overlapped seems to do.

However, it is more labor-intensive, and as a result, the kayak built with this material is more expensive. That is why; it is advisable to go for inflatable kayaks with double-taped seams, which are also glued on both sides. When conducting stress tests, neoprene and Hypalon glued seams are reliable and very strong.

Plastic Coating (PVC)

PVC or plastic coating is a vinyl polymer with the chemical content of polyvinyl chloride. It comes in handy for the construction and leisure industries. For example, the inflatable kayak industry uses it to coat on nylon or polyester.

As a result, it strengthens the kayak more and makes it resistant to tear. Moreover, as it is in the form of plastic, you can glue or thermo-bonded. Thus; enabling the manufacturer to produce in larger quantities with unskilled labor and machines.

In addition, fabrics coated with PVC have varieties of colors to choose from than Hypalon. You can fuse inflatable kayaks seams coated with PVC through many different welding styles. With this particular kayak constructing material, manufacturers can use electronic, radio frequencies, or high-heat pressure welding.

Overall, nobody would like to paddle on a leaky kayak. So, you need to make sure all screws on your kayak are tightened regularly apart from using waterproof kayaks. The reason is that, as you paddle the kayak, you’re putting stress on its joints where the bulkhead, thigh braces, and seat join with the kayak’s plastic shell. As time goes on, the stress will gradually slacken the screws. So if you want to maintain a dry boat, you have to re-tighten the loose screws no matter the type of kayak material used in the production.

Kayaks Lighting Requirements

The minimum lighting requirement for adrift or paddling canoes and kayaks is in accordance with the United States Coast Guard Rules. The requirement for any “vessel under oars” is a lighted lantern or an electric torch that shows white lights and should be displayed at the right time to avoid a collision.

Kayaks Lighting Requirements

It is very important to install lights in your kayak if you’re likely to go paddling from sunset to sunrise. Lights ensure safety when paddling at night, dusk, or dawn.

Kayak lighting operates by either lighting up the bottom, assisting the vision underwater, or illuminating the front and rear of your boat for safety sighting. So no matter why you go out paddling on your kayak, be it for environmental exploration, fishing, or sporting activities, you shouldn’t disregard kayak light.

Lights Tips for your Kayak

You need to set up sidelights, stern lights, and at the minimum, a single bright light in your kayak according to state laws. All the lights you install are supposed to be alight anytime your kayak isn’t ducked during the night. It is recommended that the lights should be seen from 360 degrees to avoid colliding with oncoming vessels.

Lights Tips for your Kayak

Thus, you need to choose appropriate lights suitable for your kayak that is in accordance with the boating regulations and laws. Always make sure that your lights are waterproof and with fully charged batteries initially. Also, carry spare in case of an emergency.

That said, let’s check out these lighting ideas ideal for kayaks!

  • Navigation Lights: Navigation lights are vital to ensure your safety and other people who are fishing, sailing, or motoring at night. You can either choose from LED neck lights or portable hands-free lights.
  • Underwater Lights: Kayak lighting is not limited to movement and vision across the river, sea, or lake. It also requires underwater lighting to provide ample illumination beneath the boat. With underwater lights, you can view various beautiful creatures underneath at an appropriate distance. In addition, compact underwater lights improve paddling, high visibility, as well as safety during navigation with your kayak.
  • Strobe Lights: Strobe lights are vital for night kayaking, more especially in the time of emergency. Generally, strobe lights provide a constant flashlight that signals distress calls to other kayakers.
  • Fishing Lights: Fishing lights of kayaks are majorly created towards angling. Therefore, they improve efficiency and at the same time ensure the fisherman’s safety as they angle during the night.

Examples of Kayak fishing lights;

  • Head Lamps lights
  • Lights to attract fish
  • Hands-free lights

Where Do You Put Lights On A Kayak?

There are four common places you can put lights on your kayak to ensure your safety and that of others. You can put lights on the sides as sidelights and at the stern as stern or deck lights. Also, you can put lights on the masthead and an all-around white light.

Putting lights on your kayak at the appropriate places ensures your safety. If you want to go fishing or kayaking on lakes or rivers that have unrestricted motor usage, it is crucial to have maximum visibility. Apart from high visibility, installing kayak lights at the right places can aid navigation and orientation at night or during low visibility periods like fog, dusk, etc.

That is why; having navigation lights are vital. They can help you and other kayakers know the particular boat that should give way to the other as you encounter one another at night. You must display these lights from sunset to dawn or sunrise as well as at periods of low visibility like fogs.

Check out where to put your navigation lights;

  • Sidelights: Sidelights are those green and red lights that are also known as combination lights. These lights are clear for other vehicles which are coming from the head-on or side to see. The red sidelights display a vessel’s left (port) side, while the green sidelights display a vessel’s right (starboard) side.
  • Stern light: Stern lights are the bright white lights installed at the stern of a kayak. You can only see these lights from the back or almost at the back of your kayak.
  • Masthead Light:  These lights illuminate forward as well as shine to both sides of the kayak. Masthead lights are mandatory for every power-driven vessel. You can combine both the stern light and the masthead light into all-around white light on any power-driven vessel that is not more than 309.4 feet long. If the vessel is longer, it may need separate masthead lighting. Masthead light is important to display by every vessel when they are under engine power. If the masthead light is absent, it means that the vessel is a sailing one because all sailboats under sail show a stern and sidelight.
  • All-Round White Lights: On any power-driven boat which is lower than 39.4 feet in length, you can join the masthead light together with the sternlight to become one special light that any other vessel can see from any direction. Then, when you extinguish your vessel’s sidelights, this all-around white light can do the work of an anchor light.

Final Verdict

If you’re embarking on a night kayaking or paddling when the visibility conditions are not adequate, you’re likely to ask, do you need lights on a kayak at night. We believe that you’ve seen that lights are necessary for night kayaking. Also, there are specific places to put lights on your kayak for maximum effect. In addition, lighting requirements and regulations in certain states require that you drive with lights.

But note, no matter how good you are in night kayaking, always make sure you go for the best quality vessel. Also, make sure to follow the laid down safety standards that govern your residence. That is the best way to ensure your safety.