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Common buoys

Understanding Lake Buoys & Channel Markers


You may have just purchased your brand new Bennington pontoon boat, and do some relaxing pontoon boating. Thousands of inland lakes and waterways across the U.S. welcome boating all along their shores every year, and perhaps you'd soon like to be one of these happy boaters.


If you haven't been boating for quite some time, or are a novice out on the waters, you will notice rather quickly that there are most likely a good number of lake buoys and navigation markers. They're placed here and there along the way to assist boaters in their travels.


Buoy Meanings


The navigation buoys and lake markers assist watercraft operators by directing traffic, marking channels, regulating speed and denoting unsafe areas. In the form of buoys, lights, and signs, in water or on shore, boaters should familiarize themselves with these to aid them in navigation while keeping their journey legal and safe.


Channel Markers


These are all-red buoys (also known as Nuns) and all-green buoys (also known as Cans). These are companion buoys that indicate the boating channel is between them.


When facing upstream, or coming from the open sea, the red buoys are located on the right (starboard) side of the channel; the green buoys will be on the left (port) side of the channel. I


f in doubt about your general location, it is recommended you use the 3-Rs approach: Red, Right, Return. Or, the Red buoy is on your Right side when Returning from the sea or heading toward the headwaters of the body of water.


Control Markers


These are white signs or white buoys with an orange circle and black lettering indicating a restricted or controlled area on the water. Very common with these signs is 'Slow- No Wake' speeds, so read them carefully.


Hazard Markers


Especially look out for these white buoys or white signs with an orange diamond, with the source of danger spelled out in black lettering. These signs can warn watercraft operators of danger areas such as rapids, dams, rocks, and other hazardous areas or situations. They are also a specific "Keep Out" area marker used in swimming areas.


Obstruction Markers


These are white with black vertical stripes, and indicate an obstruction to navigation. Do not pass between these markers and the nearest shore.


So get to know and understand these markers. They can be invaluable to you in your journeys, and can maximize your fun and safety when out in your Bennington pontoon boat.