South Carolina Boater Education Course

CHAPTER 2: Boating Equipment



In the next part of Chapter 2, we learned about navigation lights. There are a wide variety of regulations pertaining to navigation lights, so it’s important to check the regulations and then check to see that your boat has the proper set of navigation lights.

Some of the things that determine what navigation lights you’ll need to have include:

Whether your boat is under engine power or sail power, or whether it’s human-powered (such as by oars or paddles). Remember that a sailboat using an engine is still considered to be under engine power.

Another important factor in determining what navigation lights you need is the length of your boat. For example, powered boats over 40 feet require a masthead and stern light, while powered boats under 40 feet only require an all-around white light.

And all boats, regardless of size or type of power, need to have a flashlight on board!


For our last topic, we talked about marine distress signals, and in particular, visual distress signals or VDS’s.

There are a lot of different types of devices you can use to make a marine distress signal, from marine radios to an EPIRB to a simple flashlight.

In particular, there are specific federal regulations pertaining to what types of visual distress signals you need to have on board. Two key rules to remember:

  • Never display a visual distress signal unless you need assistance because you or your passengers are in immediate or potential danger.
  • If you are required to carry visual distress signals, you need a minimum of three visual distress signals that you can use in either day or night.