PADDLERsmart! Canada Knowledge Base

Module 05 - Markers and Buoys


The Lateral System is a system of buoys used to mark the safest or most preferred routes on a waterway. It consists of red and green buoys, and indicates on which side of the buoy you should safely pass, creating a pathway of buoys that boat operators can follow.

The lateral system also marks a point where two channels meet (a junction), or a point where a channel divides (a bifurcation). 

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.

In total, there are six types of lateral buoys that you might encounter on Canadian waterways:

  • Port-Hand buoys
  • Starboard-Hand buoys
  • Port Bifurcation buoys
  • Starboard Bifurcation buoys
  • Fairway buoys
  • Isolated Danger buoys

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