Motor-sailing on a clear night, passage. On watch alone sighted single red light on port bow (“Green to green, red to red, perfect safety, go ahead”)! Nothing else to be seen through binoculars. Somehow felt this light was getting closer and could not leave the cockpit to go below to consult radar. In the dark put down glasses, found binoculars again and now white bow wave from black hull with red light close on port bow. Just time to get behind wheel, disengage autopilot and turn hard to starboard (170), when black yacht slid close by, shout of alarm, dim cabin light, no stern light. She was showing a red light on stbd side!
The rhyme quoted is old and well known, but a single point of information will not guarantee safety and if its bearing is steady then you are going to hit it whatever colour it is!
It’s always a good idea to have your boat independently checked out and in the UK the RNLI offer a free service which can be booked at www.rnli.org.uk/what_we_do/sea_and_beach_safety/book_a_sea_check.