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These navigation aids mark the edges of safe water areas; for example, directing travel within a channel. The markers use a combination of colors and numbers, which may appear on either buoys or permanently placed markers.

Lateral Markers: Colors and Numbers

The colors and numbers have the same meaning regardless of the kind of buoy or marker on which they appear.

Red Colors, Red Lights, and Even Numbers

Buoy - Red Lighted

These mark the edge of the channel on your starboard (right) side as you enter from the open sea or head upstream. Numbers usually will increase consecutively as you return from the open sea or head upstream.

Green Colors, Green Lights, and Odd Numbers

Buoy - Green Lighted

These mark the edge of the channel on your port (left) side as you enter from the open sea or head upstream. Numbers usually will increase consecutively as you return from the open sea or head upstream.

Green Colors, Green Lights, and Odd Numbers
These mark the edge of the channel on your port (left) side as you enter from the open sea or head upstream. Numbers usually will increase consecutively as you return from the open sea or head upstream.

Red and Green Colors and/or Lights
These are placed at the junction of two channels to indicate the preferred (primary) channel when a channel splits. If green is on top, the preferred channel is to the right. If red is on top, the preferred channel is to the left. These also are sometimes referred to as "junction buoys."

Buoy - Red and Green Lighted
Buoy - Green and Red Lighted

These are placed at the junction of two channels to indicate the preferred (primary) channel when a channel splits. If green is on top, the preferred channel is to the right. If red is on top, the preferred channel is to the left. These also are sometimes referred to as "junction buoys."

Lateral Markers: Shapes

Nun Buoys

Buoy - Nun

These cone-shaped buoys are always marked with red markings and even numbers. They mark the edge of the channel on your starboard (right) side when entering from the open sea or heading upstream.

Can Buoys

Buoy - Can

Can Buoys
These cylindrical-shaped buoys are always marked with green markings and odd numbers. They mark the edge of the channel on your port (left) side when entering from the open sea or heading upstream.

Other Kinds of Buoys and Markers
Lighted Buoys

These buoys use the lateral marker shapes, colors, and numbers discussed previously. In addition, they have a matching colored light.

  • Lighted Buoy - green
  • Lighted Buoy - red
Daymarks

These are permanently placed signs attached to structures, such as posts, in the water. Common daymarks are red triangles (equivalent to nuns) and green squares (equivalent to cans). These may be lighted also.

  • Buoy - Green daymark
  • Buoy - Red daymark