Having a properly lit dock is important for several reasons. If you regularly have people walking along your dock at night, they will need sufficient lighting to avoid a potentially serious accident. Your dock should also be visible to boats on the water, especially in the dark or on foggy days. It’s surprisingly easy to lose control of a boat and accidentally smash into a dock that you didn’t know was there, so bright lighting is a must.
As important as lighting a boat dock is, you should also consider the appearance of your dock. A lot of people who have boat docks like to use them as gathering spots for time spent with friends and family, so a dock’s lighting should be appealing and provide a great atmosphere as well. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your boat dock, so by all means show it off with some attractive lighting.
Dock Lighting Requirements
The laws regarding dock lights vary from one state to the next, but the law usually states that all residential docks have to be lit from sunset to sunrise. These lights should be highly visible from the water to assist passing and incoming boats, and they should be a reasonable distance from the shore to avoid being confused with the water’s edge. Overhead wiring is generally prohibited, so dock owners need to pay careful attention to how they provide electricity to their dock lights.
Practically speaking, a dock’s lighting should allow it to be highly visible at night. Brighter lights are obviously ideal, and colored lights should be kept to a minimum, as they can be more difficult to see in certain situations. Lighting a long dock as if it were a footpath is also a good idea for the benefit of those who might walk along it in the dark or on foggy days. Swimming platforms extending from your dock should also be well-lit.
Dock lighting should be relatively bright, so the best way to create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere on your dock is by choosing attractive light fixtures. The kinds of fixtures that you can use are really up to you and the look you want to create, but many dock owners like to stick to a nautical theme and include things like lantern-style light fixtures and dock lights designed for the sea air. For lights that are closer to your home, consider something closer to the kind of pathway lighting that you would otherwise use for your yard. If you use your dock as a place where you can hang out with guests, try to make it as inviting as you can.
Visibility is obviously important, but it isn’t everything. Feel free to experiment with your dock lighting fixtures to find something that fits your home and your personality.