7 Boat Dock Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

Boat dock lighting is important for the security of your boat and the safety of its passengers, visitors and owners. Here are suggestions to help you choose the best lighting to enhance security and safety, while supporting the comfort and privacy of your nautical neighbors.

1. Avoid Tall Bright Lights

The preferred lights for a dock area are called bollards. These consist of a small light fixture mounted on a broad pillar at about 24 to 35 inches above the ground, between the average person's knee and hip level. This dock light type will enable you to enter and disembark from a boat safely at night, while it shines below the cabin level of most large houseboats. These lights will also prevent collisions between your boat and other boats, and with the dock itself.

2. Install A Solar-Powered Light System

Lights operated by solar cells turn on automatically when the light level dims at sunset, and turn off again after sunrise. Avoid a light type that is controlled by only a manual switch or electronic timer, because it will invariably light up when you do not want it.

If your dock is in the shade most of the day, choose and install a solar lighting system that is charged and operated by a single large solar panel that you can set up in a sun-filled spot near the dock.

3. Choose Water and Salt-Resistant Housing for Lights

Boat dock lighting and other marine lights are made of durable plastics that can repel water and resist mineral salts that are found even in fresh water. Do not buy a dock light housed in metal, as it will pit and corrode quickly, rendering the lights inoperative.

4. Consult Your Neighbor or Marina Manager

Talk to your neighbor about the kind of dock lights you wish to install before you go ahead and put them down both sides of a shared dock. This will prevent disagreements, and your neighbor may also offer to share the cost of installation. If you have a dock slip at a marina, ask the marina manager before choosing and installing dock lights, to maintain a uniform appearance in the dock area.

5. Choose Lighting that Will Help Identify Your Dock

Affix a red and green light at the end of your dock to help you steer your boat to the correct side at night. If not these specific colors, set up a specific pattern or grouping of lights at the end. Avoid leaving your dock end un-illuminated.

6. For Visual Drama and Safety, Illuminate the Water's Edge

Add a set of lights that shine into the water and reflect off the edges of the dock. This adds both visual impact and a second safety factor - the dock edges are more visible as you bring the boat in to dock it.

7. Light for Safety First When Leaving the Dock Area

Place a tall light, that directs most of its light downward, at the entrance to your path or stairway up from the dock. Avoid lights that cast bright light widely, so your cottage guests and neighbors can sleep.