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Encountering Other Boats

Aids To Navigation

Red Right Returning

Red right returning is a reminder of the correct course when returning
from open waters or heading upstream.


The Lateral Navigational System

This is a system of navigation aids that mark safe water areas; for example, to direct passage within a channel. It uses a combination of colors and numbers which may be applied to buoys or permanently placed markers.

   Red colors, red lights, and even numbers indicate the right side of the channel as a boater enters from the open sea or heads upstream.
   Green colors, green lights and odd numbers indicate the left side of the channel as a boater proceeds from the open sea or heads upstream.
   Red and white vertical stripes indicate mid-channels or fairways and may be passed on either side.
   Red and green colors and/or lights indicate the preferred (primary) channel. If green is on top, the preferred channel is to the right; if red is on top, the preferred channel is to the left.
   Lighted Buoys use the Lateral System shapes, colors and numbers. They are characterized by a matching colored light.
   Nuns are cone-shaped buoys marked with red colors and even numbers.
   Cans are cylindrical-shaped buoys marked with green colors and odd numbers.


 Daymarks 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) and may also be lighted.


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