Markers and Buoys
The Lateral System is used to mark the most preferred and safest routes. Consisting of red and green buoys, this system marks the course of deepest water and indicates on which side of the buoy you should safely pass.
In the Lateral System, buoys and beacons indicate the sides of the channel or route relative to a conventional direction of buoyage (usually upstream). They also mark junctions (a point where two channels meet) or bifurcations (the point where a channel divides). They can also mark a place where two tributaries meet.
Keep in mind: When navigating along the course of a channel or fairway you should be as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway on the starboard side as is safely possible.
There are two main types of Lateral System buoys which are most familiar to boaters and are standard for international waterways:
- Green Port-Hand Buoys
- Red Starboard-Hand Buoys
In total, there are six types of lateral buoys including:
- Port-Hand Buoys
- Starboard-Hand Buoys
- Port Bifurcation Buoys
- Starboard Bifurcation Buoys
- Fairway Buoys
- Isolated Danger Buoys
Remember: Opposites attract when heading upstream! Your boat’s green sidelight will always match up with any red buoy that your boat approaches when heading upstream, and your red sidelight will always pair with any green buoy that your boat approaches when heading upstream. Red/green, green/red!