Oh! Boy What’s That in the Water?

A Buoy of course!

A buoy is a floating object that will perform any of a number of functions, they may be secured in position of floating depending on what their job is. Essentially, they are a warning or advisory marker telling boaters to take note.

A sea mark buoy is in place to mark a maritime channel, hazard or administrative area to allow boats and ships to navigate safely avoiding shallows, obstacles and keep them in the correct channel.

Some navigational buoys are fitted with a bell or gong, which sounds when waves move the buoy.

Danbuoys consist of a fibreglass pole, approximately 2 metres long, attached to a high visibility vertical pole with a weight at its base. The danbuoy pole carries an orange flag on its upper end and has reflective tape along its length.  More and more offshore vessels on long passages are now carrying danbuoys with small personal AIS transponders attached to them.

A lifebuoy with flags is used on yachts and other larger sailing and power boats.

Fishing boats of all sizes will use floatation buoys to mark their fishing grounds, lobster and crab pots. They will also mark known hazards with a buoy to avoid snagging nets and lines. Stay clear or face their wroth!

Buoys are placed to mark sunken ships, some of them are wartime wrecks that may still have live munitions etc on them. Check your navigation charts and avoid these at all costs!

Large navigation buoys LNB’s are automatic buoys up to 10 m high and equipped with a powerful light, solar powered, and are replacements for lightships, again check your charts and keep clear.

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Surface markers, are buoys that are used on dives by scuba divers to mark their position underwater. Respect their location and motor-powered boats keep a watch for diver/swimmers in the water.

Safe water mark or Fairway buoy is a navigational buoy that marks the entrance to a channel or a nearby landfall, a boater’s friend.

An Emergency Wreck Buoys provides a clear and unambiguous means of marking new wrecks. This buoy is used as a temporary response, typically for the first 24–72 hours. This buoy is coloured in an equal number of blue and yellow vertical stripes and is fitted with an alternating blue and yellow flashing light.

Mooring buoys are used in Marinas to keep one end of a mooring cable or chain on the water’s surface so that ships or boats can tie on to it. Many Marinas mark these with a number and assign it to a particular yacht or rent it out to visiting boats.

Buoys are warnings, please, take them seriously and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Sail safe.


Author: Roger Langley