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Boating Information and Boater's Resources

Boating Safety, Marine Navigation

Boat Safety

Marine Navigation Aids

Boating Education

Boating Safety and Boating Navigation

Boating education is a critical part of responsible boating. We have provided some basic boating knowledge and information for you to read and hopefully improve your boating safety and boating skills. Even though you have been boating for a long time and are probably an experienced boater or Captain you still can learn something new about boating safely and responsibly and possibly refresh your knowledge of your states boating laws and brush-up on USCG marine navigation aids in your area waterways. Learn what the road signs of the water are and start taking boating and boating safety serious.

Vessel Checks, Minimum Required Equipment

Knowing the legal requirements for boating is as important as understanding the rules of the road for driving. This vital information can protect the lives and well-being of your family and friends while on the water.

These pages provides basic information you need to boat safely -- whether you're a first time boater, or a seasoned operator. Find out about the equipment you need. Discover how to get a free vessel safety check. Learn to prepare a float plan. Make sure you and your passengers know what to do in an emergency. The fundamentals of responsible boating are the keys to keeping your time on the water safe and fun.

This boaters guide:

  1. Defines the minimum equipment and operating standards while afloat, as required under federal law
  2. Explains boat registration and numbering
  3. Describes the responsibilities of a boat operator
  4. Provides basic information on navigation
  5. Recommends additional equipment to enhance boating safety
  6. Gives tips and strategies for safe boating and emergency survival
Boating and Marine Navigation

Boating Resources - Marine Safety, Navigation, and Education
Boating fatalities have been decreasing since 1997, even though the number of boats in use continues to increase."

- U.S.Coast Guard

Definition: The number one priority term used to define an extreme emergency aboard a boat, when calling for help and aid.
VHF Radio Channels

Here are the most commonly used channels of those for use on the waters of the United States:

Channel 6
Intership safety communications only

Channel 9
Communications between boats (commercial and recreational), and ship to coast

Channel 13
Strictly used for navigational purposes by commercial, military, and recreational vessels at bridges, locks, and harbors.

Channel 16
Distress and safety calls to Coast Guard and others, and to initiate calls to other vessels. Often called the “hailing” channel, contact the other vessel, quickly agree to another channel, and then switch to that channel to continue conversation.

Channel 22

Used for communications between the U. S. Coast Guard and the maritime public, both recreational and commercial. Severe weather warnings, hazards to navigation and other safety warnings are broadcast on this channel.

Channel 24-28
Public telephone calls (to marine operator)

Channels 68, 69 & 71
Recreational boat radio channel and ship to coast

Nautical Chart & Buoy Abbreviations

Understanding and using the U.S. Aids to Navigation System is an important part of operating your boat safely.

The Aids to Navigation System is a consistent way to mark the waters of the United States and its territories to assist boaters in navigation, and alert them to obstructions and hazards. This system serves the same function as the safety signals and signs used in driving on streets and highways.

The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the placement and maintenance of Aids to Navigation in U.S. waters. These aids include lighted and unlighted beacons, ranges, leading lights, and buoys, as well as sound signals associated with these aids. Below are the abbreviations used for USCG charts and buoys. You may refer to these when viewing the navigational pages.

Navigation Aids - Road Signs of the Waterway

Aids To Navigation Abbreviations

B - Black
Bn - Beacon
C - Can Buoy
F - Fixed F is an illustration of a fixed light, which is indicated by a constant beam.
Fl - Flashing Fl is an illustration of a fixed light, which is a sequence of a short flash followed by a short pause.
Fl (2) - Group Flashing Fl (2) is an illustration of a group flashing light, which is a sequence of two short flashes separated by a short pause, and followed by a longer pause.
Fl (2+1) - Composite Group-Flashing Fl (2+1) is an illustration of a composite group flashing light, which is a sequence of two short flashes separated by a short pause, followed by a medium pause, a single short flash and a long pause.
G - Green
Iso - Isophase Iso is an illustration of an isophase flashing light, which is a sequence of a medium flash followed by a medium pause.
J - Junction (S or T Dayboard)
K - Rectangular (Range Dayboard)

Source -
US Coast Guard

M - Octagonal Dayboard
MO (A) - Morse Code -
( MO is an illustration of Morse code, which is a sequence of a short flash followed a short flash followed by a short pause, a medium flash and another short pause. )
N - Nun Buoy
Oc - Occulting Oc is an illustration of an occulting flashing light, which is a sequence of a long flash followed by a long pause.
Pri - Private
Q - Quick (Flashing) Q is an illustration of a quick flashing light, which is a sequence of a short flash followed by a very short pause.
R - Red
S - Square Dayboard
s - seconds
T - Triangle Dayboard
W - White
Y - Yellow

For information on A Complete listing of Nautical Chart symbols please go to the US Coast Guard Site.

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