Many kayakers enjoy having a paddle during the night hours of the summer months. As summer turns to fall and the days begin to grow shorter while the sun begins to set earlier, it becomes more likely for kayakers who ventured out in the late afternoon to get caught in the darkening light because they did not consider how dark it could become and how far they might have been from their landing spots. Similarly, fishers hoping to get an early start on the day may begin their expeditions with kayak launches before the sun has risen. There are other aesthetic reasons why kayakers may venture out when the sun is leaving or is yet to arrive. The cool night air, the shining stars and moon, or the simplicity of the still evening water can entice and enchant any number of kayakers. The sun heats the air during the day, resulting in wind on the water, and paddling in the night time can provide kayakers with rare opportunities to explore quiet waters. No matter whether your goal is to paddle out into a lake by moonlight or are simply looking to have all of your supplies at hand if you are embarking upon a kayak trip in the late afternoon, it might be a good idea to add lights to your supply of essential kayak equipment.
When paddling at night the minimum requirement you should take out with you on the water is a single white light that will be visible in every direction. Such a light will serve as a signal to indicate your position to other people on the water such as kayak buddies and other boaters out in the early morning or late evening. If you use a light for kayaking it should be waterproof so it does not go out with a splash, and you will also want to make sure it has fresh batteries when you begin your trip. Hand held high powered flashlights are more than enough for most kayakers. You can check the U.S. Coast Guard or the local authorities for boating in your area to find out what the exact specifications for lighting small craft are. As an example, vessels that are greater than 16 feet in length will tend to have more lighting requirements than vessels that come in under 16 feet in length. As a result, you should keep the length of your kayak in mind and consult the local rules to see which categories for lighting your kayak fits into before you set out on the water during the dark hours.
A good form of a white light, which is also known as an anchor light, for a kayaker is a deck light. The best situation is a white light that is steady burning and capable of being seen from all directions, but a kayaker may find such a setup impractical. For one thing, it is difficult to have a tall pole for the light to place on your kayak and it will most likely get in the way of the normal functions you exert on the kayak as a paddler. There would also be issues of fragility to address. Rather, you may be far better off with a simple deck light.
In most situations the anchor light is attached somewhere on the stern of a boat or a ship, and they are often used in tandem with additional lights such as navigation lights. The traditional lighting pattern for navigation lights is to have red lights set up on the port side, also known as the left side, and green lights set up on the starboard side, also known as the right side. This helps people in other water vessels tell which side of your boat is facing them and helps them gauge your direction of motion relative to them. When you have navigation lights installed it is not as essential to have your white anchor light visible from the front of the boat, as long as you can ensure that your navigation lights are already visible from the front of the boat. When you have your lights arranged this way it’s similar to having lights on your car.