Navigational Aids

North Cardinal Buoy

North Cardinal Buoys show that safe water is to the north of the buoy. These buoys have a top mark of both arrows pointing up, and have black at the top of the buoy and yellow on the bottom. When they are lighted they flash continuously alternating between quick flashing for one second and very quick flashing for half a second.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

South Cardinal Buoy

South Cardinal Buoys are yellow on the top and black on the bottom, with of two arrows pointing down on top. They indicate that safe water is to the south of them. If lit they will have a white light, that will either flash 6 quick flashes followed by a long flash of light, followed by a break of 15 seconds OR 6 very quick flashes followed by a long flash of light and a 10 second break.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

West Cardinal Buoy

West Cardinal Buoys indicated that safe water is to the west of them. They are black on the top and bottom, with yellow in the middle. Additionally, they have a top mark of 2 arrows pointing towards each other. When west cardinal buoy is lighted it will flash quickly flash a white light 9 times, followed be a 15 second break. Alternatively they might flash very quickly 9 times, with a 10 second break in between.

Tip to remember: You can draw a “W” in-between the arrows apexes.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

East Cardinal Buoy

East Cardinal Buoys show that safe water is to the east of them. They will be black in the middle, and yellow on the top and bottom. Additionally, they will have a top mark of 2 arrows will be pointing away from each other. If they happen to be lit, they will quickly flash a white light 3 times, followed by 15 second break. Alternatively they might flash very quickly 3 times followed by a 10 second break.

Tip to remember: You can make an “E” in between the shapes.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Starboard Hand Buoy

Lateral buoys like a starboard hand buoy show which side of the channel boats should travel on. Starboard hand buoys are red, with a pointed top, and indicate that a vessel should keep them on their starboard (right) side when heading upstream, or into a harbour.

Tip to Remember: Three R’s: “Red, Right, Returning”.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Port Hand Buoy

Port hand buoys, a type of lateral buoy, indicate which side of a channel a vessel should travel on. Port hand buoys are green, with a flat top, and numbered only with even numbers. They must be keep on your vessels port (left) side when heading upstream, or into a harbour.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Bifurcation Buoys

Bifurcation buoys mark the point where a channel divides into branches. This means it’s safe for pass on either side, but there is a preferred side. This is shown by the top colour of the buoy.

Port Bifurcation Buoys

Port bifurcation buoys will be green at the top and the bottom with red in the middle. They are very similar to port hand buoys, they have a flat top, a green light. The only difference they have is their pattern of green on the top and bottom, and red in the middle and a top mark of a square with a green outline and another green square in the middle.

Starboard Bifurcation Buoys

These buoys are red at the top and bottom and green in the middle. Additionally, they have a pointed top, a red light and their top mark is a square with a green outline and a red triangle in the middle.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Isolated Danger Buoy

Used to mark an isolated hazard in waters that are usually navigable. They will be moored directly on or above the danger. A great example of a hazard that these buoys would mark would be a large rock, shoal or a sunken ship.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Fairway Buoys

These red and white striped buoys mark the entrances or center of a channel. They can be passed on either side but should be kept on your port side when proceeding in either direction.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Anchorage Buoys

This buoy is used to mark areas that are often used as an overnight anchorage. These buoys are yellow and usually have an anchor symbol clearly visible. If they happen to be lit, they will have a yellow light flashing once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Mooring Buoys

These orange and white buoys are called mooring buoys. They can be found in most anchorages and marinas, and are used to secure your vessel instead of anchoring. It’s important to know, that these buoys are the only buoys that vessels can legally secure themselves to.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Cautionary Buoy

Cautionary buoys mark areas like firing ranges, racing courses, and seaplane bases. They can also be used to indicate the location of underwater structures and areas where there is no safe passage. They can also be used to mark traffic separation schemes. They are bright yellow and display identification letters that match those on a chart. If they are lighted they will have a yellow light that will flash once every four seconds, and if they have a top mark it will be a yellow “X”.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Control Buoys

Marking an area that is restricted to boaters, these buoys are white and orange. They will have two orange bands, one on each end with an orange circle in between them. Inside the circle will have a black figure or symbol that indicated that nature of the restriction. If they happen to have a light it will be yellow and flash once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Hazard Buoys

You really want to watch out for these buoys because they mark random hazards like rocks and shoals. They are white with an orange diamond, orange bands at each end. If lit, they will have a yellow light and flash once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Information Buoys

Similar to Hazard and Control Buoys, an Information Buoy is white with orange bands on each end. However, Information Buoys will have an orange square with information of interester to boaters, conveyed using symbols or letters. Again, similar to Hazard and Control Buoys, if lit, they will have a yellow light that will flash once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Keep Out Buoy

Marking an area where vessels are prohibited. These buoys are similar to Information buoys. They are white, with orange stripes, but they have an orange diamond with an orange cross inside. They show the same lighting characteristics as an Information Buoy, a yellow light flashing once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Swimming Buoys

These white buoys are used to mark the perimeter of a swimming area. If they happen to be lit, they will flash a yellow light, once every four seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Diving Buoys

This buoy marks an area where a diving activity is in progress. It will be a white buoy with a red flag with a diagonal white stripe. Additionally, if this buoy is lit it will flash a yellow light once every four seconds.

It is extremely important to operate with caution when boating near a diving operation. A vessel engaged in diving must display a blue and white flag, from the International Code, and the buoys are used to mark off areas, but divers may be operating outside those boundaries. So stay well clear of the vessel and the area, and slow down to a safe speed.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

Scientific Buoys (ODAS)

An ODAS buoy otherwise known as an Ocean Data Acquisition System Buoy collects metrological and other scientific data. They are yellow, with black identification letter(s). These buoys will also have antennas and other equipment sticking off of it.

These buoys do not have any navigational significance, and they may be moored in place or floating with the current. They are required to give feedback on radar, and cannot exhibit any shape that conflicts with a navigational mark. They might have a top mark consisting of an “X” or a yellow light flashing five times every twenty seconds.

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

All done this section!

If you want to know more about Aids to Navigational, check out the Canadian Aids to Navigation System, 2011. This document outlines every navigational aid used in Canada and all their specifications.

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