Boating Tips: Understanding Channel Markers

Welcome to Boating Tips with MarineMax! While there may not be stoplights out on the water, there are other navigational aids, channel markers! Join us for this Boating Tips Episode where Captain Keith teaches us about channel markers and how to read them. Ask your questions, make comments, and learn a thing or two about your favorite outdoor activity.

Red vs. Green

Red channel markers are triangular with an even number inside, whereas green channel markers are square with an odd number inside. When you are navigating back toward the intercoastal waterway from offshore (larger body of water to a smaller body of water), a good saying to remember is “red, right, returning” - in other words, the red channel markers should be on your right as you return. The reverse is also true, as you leave the marina and head out towards open water, the green channel markers will be on your left side.

Channel Marker Numbers

As you get closer to shore from open water, the numbers on the channel markers will fluctuate in ascending order. To put it another way, numbers one and two will signify the end of the channel and into the intercoastal while the numbers will be much higher as you get closer to the marina.

Other Channel Marker Designations

Once you have reached the end of the channel and are navigating the intercoastal waterway, there are two small, yet important channel marker details to keep in mind. In the ICW, you’ll see that the red channel markers will have a yellow triangle within them above the number(s), and the green channel markers will have a yellow square within them above the number(s).

When navigating, keep the yellow triangle to the side of the continental land mass side. Imagine it like this, if you were to head towards Key West from Massachusetts, you would keep the yellow triangle on your right (starboard) side.

Learn More

We hope that you found this video helpful and makes you a better boater! For hands on instruction and to learn more, MarineMax offers plenty of classes to help you to be a better boater so that you can have fun and be safe. We’ll see you out there.

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