Tri-color lights are allowed for both offshore and inshore under 20 meters.
Not to high jack the thread but I'm confused. I previously thought this was the case, and was proved wrong (I believe on a Sailnet thread). So now, I thought it must apply to motoring only. However, in reviewing the regs, it seems it makes no difference. Has something changed in the past few years?
One advantage is that the lights distract the helmsmen less high up.
A side light can reflect off the head-sail at deck level causing glare.
On every boat I've been on, the helmsman can't even tell if the running lights are on (Stern light notwithstanding), without going forward. I thought they were supposed to be designed that way.