BUOYS and marine traffic rules Many kayakers are attracted onto the water because of the freedom it offers away from the traffic clogged dry land, but in order to keep life on the water safe and free, there are nevertheless some ‘rules of the road’ that need to be observed . Observing marine protocol includes understanding buoys, sound signals and the driving rules that apply when passing other vessels or travelling under the cover of darkness. Depending on where you are in the world, there’s a different set of rules to follow, These are ageed upon by IALA .The IALA buoyage system is split into 2 regions A and B. Region B is mostly areas of the world with American influence, Region A is mostly countries with United kingdom influence which we will concentrate on here . For information on IALA check International Association of Lighthouse Authorities.
Buoys are the road signs of the sea, directing water users along the safest course, around the threats of rocks, shoals and wrecks. There
are four main buoy types –
Isolated /Danger buoys
Safe water buoys.
Lateral markers are sea buoys used in maritime navigation to indicate the edge of a designated roadway-like channel for vessels. When
entering a harbour or river mouth, lateral buoy markers are used to map out a safe route through the water. Lateral buoys indicate port
(left hand side) and starboard (right hand side). The port marker is coloured red, and the starboard marker is green. Upon entry the
red can-shaped port buoys should remain on a driver’s left-hand side, whilst the green starboard buoys should be on the right. Upon
exit this rule is naturally reversed. They mark safe passage into harbours and on the Solent also mark the commercial shipping channels.
SAFETY FIRST! Keep clear of commercial shipping and large vessels such as ferries, it makes sense to wait for them to pass, they are bigger than us and more than likely unaware that kayaks are in their path...also they may be going faster than they appear!
Concessions for Small and Large Vessels Concessionary measures and alternative rules apply to non-motorised craft such as sailboats or kayaks. The main practice is that such vessels have the right of way over powerboats because they might have a much harder time changing course abruptly. It is also good manners to motorised vessels to slow down when passing small yachts and rowboats to avoid upsetting them with a strong wake.