Those "Other" Buoys

OK, you've launched from a new boat ramp and are cruising waters you've never seen, and while you're taking in the new views and scenery, an unfamiliar navigation marker or buoy appears. Now what? Chances are good it's one of the following:

Preferred Channel

Preferred Channel Buoy

Called a "junction buoy" years ago, this marks the preferred channel when a channel splits. The top color indicated the "preferred channel" while the bottom color (red) indicates the "secondary channel." These have a letter instead of a number.

Vertically Striped Buoys

Vertically Striped Buoy

In simple terms, these buoys indicate good water on either side. You'll see these most often at a harbor entrance and are usually the first buoy coming in or the last buoy when going out. You'll also see them mid channel or in fairways in a harbor.

Yellow Buoys

Yellow marker buoy

Treat these as you would a yellow light at an intersection. It is used to indicate the need for caution and stay clear of the area.In many instances, these mark dredge lines or a sunken pipe. Stay away and you'll be fine.

White And Orange

White and Orange buoy

These are regulatory buoys designed to provide information such as a no-wake zone or a shoal area


  • The numbers on both red and green buoys INCREASE as a vessel travels upstream or from the sea to a harbor.
  • Red buoys have even numbers while the green have odd numbers.End of story marker

This article was published in the Winter 2012 issue of Trailering Magazine.


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