Boating Markers & Buoys

Information and helpful tips on boating markers and buoys in the United States and Canada.

Special Buoys and Flags

Boating Restriction Signs Boating Restriction Signs are framed in orange and the symbol on the sign indicates the type of restriction that applies. If the sign is arrow shaped, the restriction applies in the direction pointed by the arrow. Signs with a green border indicate that a special condition applies to the restriction. Be aware […]

Red Right Returning

‘Red Right Returning’ A simple way for boaters to remember on which side of the marker buoy they should pass is to use the red right returning memory aid. ‘Red Right Returning’ refers to keeping the red starboard-hand buoy on the right side of your boat when: Returning to harbor Heading upstream Entering a channel […]

Day Beacons

Day Beacons are signs posted on land or water. They are without lights and are intended for daytime use only. These beacons use the same colours as the Lateral System and are typically used as channel or hazard markers. They may be marked with reflective lettering for identification on marine charts. Port-Hand Day Beacon These […]

The Lateral Navigation System

The Lateral System The Lateral Navigation System is used to mark the most preferred and safest routes. Consisting of red and green buoys, this system marks the course of deepest water and indicates on which side of the buoy you should safely pass. In the Lateral Navigation System, buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a […]

Cardinal Buoys

The Cardinal System There are numerous marker and buoy systems in Canada. The two main ones to be aware of as a boater are the Lateral System and the Cardinal System. Let’s take a closer look at the Cardinal Buoys System. The Cardinal System consists of yellow and black buoys that are used to assist […]

Aids to Navigation

An important part of the BOATsmart!® online safe boating course is understanding aids to navigation. These are the system of buoys and markers that assist a boater in determining their position on the water and identify any potential dangers and waterway obstructions. Aids to navigation can be used to plot position and course on nautical charts and also assist in choosing the preferred and safest route […]