“What color are safe watermarks?” and other buoy issues

When driving, you must obey the road rules. But what if there is no road and you can apparently go anywhere? If there are signs and you are using a means of transport such as a boat, pay attention to the information contained therein.

Signs on the water are in the form of navigation buoys and markings. Before you hit the water, learn the answer to “What color are safe water markers?” To prevent you and others from hitting the water in unexpected ways. For information on buoys not covered here, see the United States Coast Guard publication of the Official Navigational Rules.

Safety should always be a priority for you, your passengers and other boaters. So if you see a buoy or a buoy, pay close attention to what it means as there is information there that can affect everyone’s safety. In particular, diamond-shaped navigation buoys and markings signal dangerous conditions. This could be due to dams, rapids, rocks or even a warning of swimming areas.

When answering the question “What color are safe water markings?”, Boaters must also follow the information on the channel markers. According to my Pennsylvania boating manual, place the green channel marker buoy on the port side when looking upstream. If the channel markers are red, hold the buoy on the starboard side upstream. So which one is the port again? Left. That is, starboard is correct. The manual had the handy phrase “red, right, back” to keep it straight.

Even the white buoy with the blue ribbon that is the mooring buoy says “watch out” for a ship anchor chain nearby. A buoy with no trail or even buoys with a fishing habitat structure can affect other boat movements and traffic patterns.

Look out for any signs floating on the water. Someone has been there before you and discovered the hard way the importance of warning about this water area or condition. Pay attention to each buoy to avoid an accident and say “phooey”. Or worse!

In addition to learning about navigation buoys and markings, make sure you have valid boat registration documents on board before setting off.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida but raised on the banks of farm ponds in Oklahoma, he now hunts pike, small bass and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After graduating with a degree in zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, in the US state of Iowa and the US state of Michigan.


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