Navigating your boat through the buoys and markers.

buoys and markersAs a boater, it’s a must to know what the different buoys and markers stand for.  They are the “traffic signals” that guide boaters safely along the waterways. Buoys and markers have different shapes, colors, numbers and lights. They also identify dangerous or controlled areas and give directions and information.

California Waterway Marking System

Many bodies of water used by boaters are entirely within the boundaries of a particular state. A Uniform State Waterway Marking System has been setup for these waters. This system uses buoys and markers and signs with distinctive shapes and colors to show regulatory or advisory information. The markers are white with black letters and orange borders. They signify speed zones, restricted areas, danger areas and other general information.  For more information, California Waterway Markings.

Navigation Aids – The Road Signs of the Waterway

buoys and markersNavigation aids assist boat operators to verify their position. They also warn of dangers or obstructions.

  • Starboard side buoys are red, with red fixed or flashing lights.
  • Port side buoys are green, with green fixed or flashing lights.
  • Safe water buoys, aka mid-channel, fairway buoys or approach buoys are painted with red and white vertical stripes and have flashing lights.
  • Preferred channel, aka junction buoys are painted with red and green horizontal bands and have flashing lights.
  • Special marks like traffic separation, anchorage areas, dredging, etc. are painted yellow with fixed or flashing lights.


Remember, markings may vary by different geographic locations. It’s always a good idea to consult local boating authorities before riding in unfamiliar waters.

For more information regarding the Los Angeles Harbor in and around Newmarks Yacht Centre, check out the following websites…

Source: California State Parks/Division of Boating and Waterways/ABC’s of California Boating