Not that I'm advocating using none USCG approved lights (and I wouldn't) I'm just curious, is it actually required that they be USCG approved, or only that they meet the requirements, the easiest way to be sure being using USCG approved lights?
Seems to me if your lights are not USCG approved, but in the event of an issue, if you can PROVE that they meet the visibility requirements, that would hold up in court.
Of course that means the onus would be on you to prove it, and the fault would be yours if it doesn't, where as with a CG approved light, you don;t need to bother proving it as that has been done for you.
Personally, I think the little extra cash up front is worth not dealing with proving the lights meet the specs, or dealing with officials who may question it if they boat where to be inspected or something, I'm just curious what's actually legal.
Seems like a requirement for USCG approved would be tough, as boats from other countries would have lights approved by different governing bodies, etc.
Anyway, nit-picking a bit here, just curious if anyone can site a legal requirement for an "approved" light vrs. a light that meets the requirements....
Nit picking it may be, but that's what lawyers get paid to do. Jackdale recently posted a judge's ruling on a containership vs sailboat collision at sea case. It is a L-O-N-G but very informative read about what goes into a case where one boat hits another and insurance companies are fighting it out for the money. BTW, this was about a USD$150,000 case, so not big by any means.
Link Here:FindACase™ | GRANHOLM v. THE VESSEL TFL EXPRESS
There are no requirements that I am aware of that any lights need to be USCG approved. There ARE laws that say American vessels in american water need a certain number of USCG approved PFDs for example but no rules about needing certification of lights.
COLREGS state the visibility requirements. But what does that mean? Visible to someone with 20/20, what about cataracts that make it hard to see at night? The USCG has created some standards whereby they feel that a light will meet the COLREGS visibility requirement if new, properly installed and operated.
If a boat hits you at anchor and his insurance company's lawyers choose to do so, they will question the fact that your light was visible. USCG approval will help but they can still question it. Maybe your housing was dirty, maybe your voltage was low etc etc.
If you have the time, read the judges ruling (or even just part of it) to get an idea how there are measures that can help or harm you in a court case but nothing is for sure until it's all argued in court.
Personally, with the advent of powerful LED nav lamps I say there is no good reason not to buy the brightest one possible! Go for 5 mile visibility lamps, they're still going to use less juice than an old anemic anchor light and when it comes down to it, preventing the collision (and the ensuing law case) is really what you want!