PADDLERsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Boat Operation



Many paddlers aren’t sure which side of a marker buoy they should pass on. A simple way to remember is to use the ‘Red Right Returning’ memory aid:

‘Red Right Returning’ refers to keeping the red starboard-hand buoy on the right side of your paddle craft whenever you’re:

  • Returning to harbor.
  • Heading upstream.
  • Or entering a channel from seaward.


Determining Upstream Direction

Travelling ‘upstream’ means you’re travelling against the current. In many places, the direction of the current is determined by consensus or by the tide. Although it’s not always the case, water flows from north to south—this means that if you’re heading north, you will likely be travelling upstream. Use these tips to help you determine the direction of water flow:

  • If you’re entering a channel from the sea, you are considered to be travelling ‘upstream’.
  • You can also refer to a marine chart to identify the upstream direction of travel.


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