Buoys, Beacons and Signs

Buoys, beacons and signs are external aids to navigation. They are provided for three main reasons:

  • To help boat operators determine their position and course;
  • To warn operators of dangers or obstructions; and/or
  • To advise operators of the location of the best or preferred route to

They are also listed on charts, so you can plan ahead for your trip. When familiarizing yourself with the different types of buoys, beacons and signs, remember they are set for travelling in the “upstream direction”. You are travelling in the upstream direction when going into a harbor, into a bay, into a port, or following the direction of the flood tide.

Lateral Buoys

Starboard Buoy

Starboard hand buoy / Starboard lateral buoy / Starboard buoy

Red in colour.

Marks the starboard side of a channel or the location of a danger.

Must be kept on the starboard side of the boat when proceeding upstream. If the buoy does not have a light, it has a pointed top.

If the buoy has a light, it will be either a flashing (Fl) four times a second (4 s.) or quick flashing (Q) every second (1 s.)

red light. Can display identification letter(s) and even number(s).

Port Buoy

Port hand buoy

Green in colour.

Conical

Spar

Marks the port (left) side of a channel or the location of a danger. Must be kept on the port side of the boat when proceeding upstream. If the buoy does not have a light, it has a flat top.

If the buoy has a light, it will be either a flashing (Fl) four times a second (4 s.) or quick flashing (Q) every second (1 s.)

green light. Can display identification letter(s) and odd number(s).