Monday, March 10, 2008

Types of Buoys

A buoy’s type has no special navigational significance, it may help toward its identification. The following are the types of buoys:

Spar Buoys
These are large logs, trimmed, shaped, and appropriately painted. Although the Coast Guard has now eliminated them, spar buoys may still be found in some foreign or private systems of aids.

Can and Nun Buoys
The shape of can buoys are cylindrical. The shape of nun buoys are conical.

Bell Buoys
These have flat tops, surmounted by a framework supporting a bell. Older bell buoys are sounded by the motion of the sea. Newer types are operated automatically by compressed gas or electricity.

Gong Buoys
These are similar to bell buoys except that they have a series of gongs, each with a different tone.

Whistle Buoys
These are similar to bell buoys except they carry a whistle sounded by the sea’s motion or horns that are sounded at regular intervals by mechanical or electrical means.

Lighted Buoys
These carry batteries or gas tanks and are surmounted by a framework supporting a light.

Combination Buoys
These are buoys in which a light and sound signal are combined, such as a lighted bell, gong, or whistle buoy.

In the US, red buoys mark the right side and green buoys mark the left side of the channel, coming from seaward. A great help in remembering this placement of buoys is the jingle "red right returning."

Normally red channel buoys are cone-shaped nun buoys, whereas black channel buoys are cylindrical can buoys. This situation probably is the only one in which a buoy’s shape is of any significance, and even here the rule is not controlling. It is the color that counts. Sometimes red and black buoys are painted white on top, but this color scheme is merely to enable them to be located more easily at night.