Boat operators in the United States need to know more about boating than just how to operate the boat. They also need to know about the waterway traffic signs, also known as buoys and markers. Buoys and markers are either lateral or non-lateral and will keep the boat out of trouble, but only if they understand what each means. Lateral buoys and waterway markers are the ones that mark the edges of channels, letting the boat operator know where the open water is located so that the boat can make a safe passage through. Non-lateral buoys and waterway markers are used to inform the boat operator.
Non-lateral markers, located on rivers an lakes throughout the United States, alert the boater to many things on the water that they are traveling on. This can include giving directions, giving information, warning the boater of hazards on the water, warning the boater of obstructions they nee to be aware of, marking areas that are controlled and marking area that are closed. The majority of these markers are solid white with orange marking an black letters, although a few are marked differently.
Information Non-lateral Markers are white buoys or markers that have squares with orange borders and black lettering. These markers alert the boater to information such as directions, food, supplies, repairs, distances and any other information that may be important to a boater. This marker would alert a boater to a marina and point in the direction the boater would need to travel to get it.
Danger Area Non-lateral Markers are white buoys or markers that have triangles with an orange border and black lettering. These markers or buoys alert boater to dangers that the boater would do well to avoid. These dangers could be stumps, dams, shoals, rocks or even construction and could cause serious damage to the boat or injury to anyone riding in the boat if they were not marked. These buoys may or may not be right on top of the hazard, it may only mark the area and the area may be considerable in size, meaning that the bout operator should remain alert and proceed very cautiously to avoid any damage.
Controlled Area Non-lateral Markers are white buoys or markers that have circles with an orange border and black lettering. These markers are the ones that tell boaters how or what they cana an can not do in a certain area. This includes no wake zones, speed limits, ski zones or idle speed.
Exclusion Area Non-lateral Markers are white buoys or markers that have crossed diamonds with an orange border an black lettering. These buoys or markers are the ones that alert boaters to areas that are off-limits to boats. This includes spillways, dams and swimming areas.