Reading Buoys & Markers

The waters of the United States are marked for safe navigation by the
lateral system of buoyage. The markers and buoys you will encounter have an
arrangement of shapes, colors, numbers and lights to show which side of the
buoy a boater should pass when navigating in a particular direction.

The markings on these buoys are oriented from the perspective
of being entered from seaward while the boater is going toward the port.
This means that red buoys are passed on the starboard (right) side when
proceeding from open water into port, and the green buoys are to the port
(left) side. When navigating out of port, your position to the buoys should
be reversed: red buoys to port and green buoys to starboard.

Many boating bodies of water are entirely within the boundaries
of a single state. The Uniform State Waterway Marking Systems have been
devised for these waters. This system uses buoys and signs with distinctive
shapes and colors to show regulatory or advisory information. These markers
are white with black letters and orange borders. The information signifies speed zones, restricted areas, danger areas and general information.

Remember: Markings may vary by geographic location. Always consult local boating authorities before driving your boat in unfamiliar waters.

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