When it comes to docking in the darkness, boat owners find the task challenging due to minimal light. As if driving and securing a vessel isn’t challenging enough during the daylight hours factor in pitch black conditions. In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, boaters frequently operate at night, considering the abundance of lakes, rivers, and coastal waters in these three states. Docking lights aid in the process with visibility is minimal. When it comes to docking during the evening, here is what you need to know about boat docking lights. 

Do You Need Docking Lights On A Boat

The necessity of docking lights is determined by the dock in which you are attempting to secure the vessel. Well-lit docks do not require the use of docking lights. However, boaters cannot rely on consistently securing watercraft to marinas or docks, constructed with ample lighting to aid the operator. 


When it comes to lighting, marinas are well lit compared to boat launches and backyard docks. The lighting is in place not only to assist when navigating vessels but to prevent fellow boaters from tripping and falling over cleats and uneven surfaces when walking. 

Boat owners do not need to install boat docking lights when they routinely depart and return to marinas due to the lighting in place on the dock. 

Despite utilizing the marina frequently, you cannot rely on all marinas or docks to contain an abundance of lights. Take into account traveling by water to restaurants or other situations where the boat must tie-up. Therefore, the addition of marine docking lights is helpful despite primarily departing and entering marinas after dark. 

Boat Ramps

The launching and retrieval times for boat owners who trailer their vessels are sporadic. It is not uncommon for anglers to head out on the water before the sun rises and sunset cruisers to return after sunset. 

Considering the frequency in which boat ramps are utilized in the dark, lighting is essential, whether on the boat or the land. The vast majority of launches are fitted with lamp post lights. However, the docks themselves are ill-equipped with electricity. 

The addition of boat docking lights or a boat docking light is beneficial when frequenting boat ramps. Considering lamp posts are prone to burning out, and docks seldom include lighting, the addition of docking lights is worth the investment. Lastly, most vessels are not fitted with docking lights on a boat; therefore expect little to no lighting.

Backyard Docks

The most convenient location to dock a boat is in a backyard. Backyard docks are what you make them. When electricity is run from the land to the dock, owners can install ample lighting for departing and arriving in the nighttime hours. 

One unique form of lighting is underwater lighting. Underwater lights create a glow by illuminating both the dock and the water surrounding the dock. 

On the top side of the dock, lights can be mounted to shine towards the water and structure, thus increasing visibility. Lastly, consider adding walk lights to help prevent trips and falls. 

How Do You Install Boat Docking Lights

When it comes to mounting boat lights for dockingboat docking light, they come in two forms: recessed or surface mounted. 

Surface Mounting Docking Lights

Surface-mounted dock lights for boats screw directly into the gunnel with ease. Surface-mounted lights are the most straightforward when it comes to at-home installations. 

Locate a position where the lights provide both forward and side facing illumination paths near the bow. Drill a small hole through the boat’s gunnel to allow the wiring to pass through. Next, mount the light with the screw provided. Lastly, run the wiring to an accessory switch. The switch allows the operator to turn the light on and off as necessary. 

When it comes to surface-mounted lights, We recommend the Attwood Universal boat docking lights. 

Recessed Docking Lights

Installing recessed dock lighting for boats involves cutting a hole on two sides of the bow. Recessed docking lights are secured and wired.

To install recessed docking lights, utilize the template included in the package. Measure the location and perform the cutting with a jigsaw. Place the light in the opening and secure it with a marine adhesive to prevent leakage and screws. Once the light is in place, run the wires to the helm and wire to an open accessory switch. 

We recommend the Innovative Lighting chrome set when it comes to recessed boat docking lights. 

So Can You Put Headlights On A Boat

The addition of docking lights on a vessel can be completed while the boat sits dockside or on a trailer. Remember, it is a good idea to have docking lights although dock lighting requirements are vague. Minimal equipment is required to complete the task. However, marine repair shops also perform docking light installations. Docking lights will help you navigate to the dock more safely. Avoid running the lights while in operation on open water as it decreases the likelihood of fellow boats identifying navigation lights.