August 2, 2016

The Trick to Buoy Navigation: ‘Red Right Returning’

If you’re boating upstream, and you encounter a red marker buoy, should you keep the buoy on your right side of your boat or the left side? Not sure? Here’s the trick to boat buoy navigation: “Red, Right, Returning”.

red right returning boat navigation

Here’s how it works:

‘Red Right Returning’ refers to keeping the RED buoy on the RIGHT side of your boat when:
– Returning to a harbor
– Boating upstream
– Entering a channel from seaward

Hmm, too nautical? No worries, we’ll break it down for you!

How do I determine which way is upstream?

Imagine you’re a kayaker paddling against the current. This means that you’re paddling upstream, and it’s probably really hard to fight against the pressure of the current. Your kayak will naturally want to travel with the direction of the water. So basically, if you’re fighting the natural flow of the water, you’re going upstream.

So, how is the upstream direction determined if it isn’t as obvious as a rushing stream? Here are a few tips to help you figure it out:
– If you are entering a channel or waterway from the sea, you are traveling upstream.
– Water will often flow from north to south. This means that if you’re traveling north, you will likely be boating upstream.
– Marine charts will sometimes provide information about the current, and the upstream direction. Always carry up to date marine charts with you when you’re out on the water!

Safe Boating Tip
: The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration offers an awesome animated surface current map for anyone planning on boating on the Great Lakes. If you’re looking for info on the ‘current’ situation on any of these waterways, check it out!

Does someone in your family still need their boating license? Help them out! Let them know they can take the Online Course & Test in 3 hours and be a certified Captain on the water this weekend!

Happy boating!




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