Other marker types

Cardinal Markers

Cardinal markers are used to indicate deeper waters or hazards. They display a compass direction away from a danger such as a reef or shallow area. The markers refer to the cardinal points of a compass – North, South, East, West – and are noted by a combination of yellow and black.

If lit, cardinal markers will exhibit a quick flashing white light in a dedicated sequence.

Think of a clock face and compass when remembering what these flashing lights will mean. The number of flashes corresponds to the
numbers on a clock face:

  • North = continuous flash
  • East = 3 flashes
  • South = 6 flashes
  • West = 9 flashes

The diagram to the right will help you identify what a cardinal marker stands for.

Isolated Danger

An isolated danger mark indicates an isolated area where a specific danger exists with safe waters all around. It could be a rock, a wreck, or a reef.

You will recognise this mark by the two black balls on top of a marker which is coloured black at the top and the bottom, and red in the middle. At night time, it will flash a white light in groups of two.

Some examples of the isolated danger mark are on the Prince George Bank off Indented Head, Wooley’s Reef at Frankston and Eagle Rock in northern Western Port.

Isolated danger marks are not always positioned centrally over a danger and it is therefore advisable to refer to a chart and not to pass too close.

Special Markers

These markers generally indicate a temporary hazard or sunken danger. At night, they will flash a yellow light at any rhythm. To pass around these markers, look at the shape and treat it as a lateral marker.

If it is a can shape, pass it on the port side; if it is a conical shape, pass it on the starboard side.

Safe Water Marker

These are used to indicate that there is navigable water all around the mark. These marks can be used as a channel entrance, centre line, mid-channel, or landfall buoy.

The Westernport Fairway buoy is a local example of this mark.

The shape of the buoy can be a sphere, spar
or pillar and is coloured with red and white vertical strips. The topmark, which is fitted, when practicable, to pillar and spar buoys, is a single red sphere. If lit, an isophase, occulting, one long flash every ten seconds, or morse ‘A’ (dot, dash) white light is exhibited. The buoy shape is optional but should not conflict with that used for a lateral or special mark.

Operators of vessels are cautioned that large commercial vessels may pass close by these marks.

New Danger Marker

The term new dangers is used to describe newly discovered hazards not yet shown in nautical documents.

The shape of the emergency wreck marking buoy is a pillar or spar and is coloured with blue and yellow vertical stripes. The topmark, if any, is a vertical/perpendicular yellow cross.

The light will occult to show alternate blue and yellow light; one second of blue light and one second of yellow light with half a second of darkness between.

Boating Zone Buoyage (inland waterways)

You’ll likely see 4 differently coloured mini buoys when boating on inland waters. The colour of these mini buoys represent different meanings and navigational instructions.

Red Mini Buoy

‘Stop – no boats’ or ‘Swimming – no boats’: used to mark prohibited water and swimming areas.

Green Mini Buoy

Access lane: the waters between these buoys are unrestricted to allow the picking up or dropping off of a water skier.

Yellow Mini Buoy

Speed restrictions: an area is set aside as a speed restriction zone because excessive speed is a risk to the operator, to other vessels or persons, or to the environment. The yellow buoys may be placed because of local or general requirements for slower speeds.

Red & Yellow Mini Buoy

Special purpose: these unmarked buoys are used to signify things like regatta areas, hazards, channels.

Navigate On Starboard

Navigating a vessel in a narrow channel is the opposite of driving a motor vehicle: Navigate on the starboard (right) hand side of the channel. Always maintain safe speed and keep a safe distance from other vessels, persons in the water etc.

Submarine Cables

Submarine cables or pipelines indicate where utilities have been installed across the seabed from one shore to the other. Anchoring is prohibited within 200 metres of a submarine cable in both directions – penalties apply. Additionally, if a cable or pipeline is damaged, the owner of the cables may seek repair costs. If your anchor does become snagged near a submarine cable, it is best to cut the anchor line.

Lead Lights

Leads are often used to guide vessels into a port or through sections of waterways. By moving your vessel so both leads are lined up, the course should be a safe one. Make yourself familiar with the area you intend to operate in before you head out.

Check local maps and charts for information concerning any leads that may exist in the area.

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