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Floating aids to navigation are used to mark the side limits of fairways, natural and other obstructions such as isolated shoals and wrecks, other areas or conditions significant to navigation, and new dangers. Floating aids to navigation are buoys and beacons. The general regulations regarding the buoyage system are found in the Maritime Traffic Regulations, which are available from our retailers.

Floating aids to navigation are divided into categories:

 Lateral buoys and marks
 Cardinal marks
 Isolated Danger Marks
 Safe Water Marks
 Special Marks
 New Dangers

Babordsmärken Mittledsmärken Punktmärken
Specialmärken Styrbordsmärken Väderstrecksmärken

Floating aids to nagivation are characterised by one or more of the following factors: colour, shape, top mark and light (colour and character).

Lateral marks
Lateral marks define the borders of channels and indicate the direction of buoyage. This essentially follows the Swedish coastline from Strömstad to Haparanda and otherwise from the sea heading into port.

Characteristics of lateral marks:

  Port mark Starboard mark
Colour: Red Green
Shape: Can buoy, ice buoy or beacon Conical buoy, ice buoy or beacon
Top mark:
(if installed)
Red cylinder Green cone, pointing up
(if installed)
Red, of any character Green, of any character
Reflectors: Red at the upper part of the mark Green in the upper part of the mark

Cardinal (compass point) marks
Cardinal marks are named according to the quandrant (north, east, south or west) in which the mark is placed in bearing from the shoal or danger. Boats should pass the mark on the side of the compass indicated by the name.

A cardinal mark may denote the branching of a fairway.

Characteristics of cardinal marks:

  North East South West
Colour: Yellow bottom, black top Black with yellow band Black bottom, yellow top Yellow with black band
Top mark:
(2 black cones)
Tips pointing up Base to base Tips pointing down Tip to tip
Light: (White) VQ or Q VQ(3) 5s
Q(3) 10s
VQ(6) LFl 10s
Q(6) LFl 15s
VQ(9) 10s
Q(9) 15s
Reflectors: One blue on the black section and one yellow on the yellow section Two blue on the upper black section One yellow on the yellow section and one blue on the black section Two yellow on the upper yellow section

The shape is always pillar (beacon) buoy, ice buoy (without a top mark) or spar (beacon).

Isolated Danger Marks

Isolated danger marks are anchored on dangers of limited extent surrounded by safe water.

Colour: Black and red horizontal sections
Shape: Pillar, ice buoy or beacon
Top mark: Two black spheres
Light: White, Fl(2) 5s, Fl(2) 10s
Reflectors: One blue on the upper black section and one red on the upper red section

Safe Water Marks

Safe water marks indicate that there is safe water on all sides around the mark and is used to mark the middle of a fairway for buoyage of an approach, etc.

Colour: Red and white sections
Shape: Pillar, ice buoy or beacon
Top mark: One red sphere
Light: White, Iso, Oc, LFl 10s
Reflectors: At least one red and one white on the upper part of the mark arranged vertically or horizontally.

Special Marks

Special marks are not primarily intended for navigation, but indicates, for example, cable, measuring instruments or borders of an area.

Colour: Yellow
Shape: Optional
Top mark: Yellow X (cross)
Light: Yellow, however not the same character as cardinal, isolated danger- and safe water marks
Reflectors: Yellow reflecting top mark or a yellow on the upper part of the mark

Other special marks may occur.

New Dangers

A new danger must be physically marked and it is of great importance that the location of the danger is marked as soon as practicable and that this marking can be readily recognized by ships as a new hazard.

Traditionally, new dangers are generally marked by cardinal or lateral buoys or by Isolated Danger Marks, which may, if so deemed necessary, be duplicated.

However, the proliferation of Aids to Navigation in the area may make the deployment of cardinal or lateral marks difficult for mariners to quickly identify a new danger in the initial stages of an incident.

The emergency wreck-marking buoy is designed to provide high visual and radio aid to navigation recognition. It should be placed as close to the wreck as possible, or in a pattern around the wreck, and within any other marks that may be subsequently deployed.

The emergency wreck marking buoy should be maintained in position until:

• The wreck is well known and has been promulgated in nautical publications;
• The wreck has been fully surveyed and exact details such as position and least depth above the wreck are known;
• A permanent form of marking of the wreck has been carried out.

The buoy has the following characteristics: 

• A pillar or spar buoy, with size dependant on location.
• Coloured in equal number and dimensions of blue and yellow vertical stripes (minimum of 4 stripes and maximum of 8 stripes).
• Fitted with an alternating blue  and yellow flashing light with a nominal range of 4 nautical miles where the blue and yellow 1 second flashes are alternated with an interval of 0.5 seconds: Al Bu Y 3s
• If multiple buoys are deployed then the lights should be synchronised.
• Consideration should be given to the use of a racon Morse code “D” and/or AIS transponder. 
• The top mark, if fitted, is to be a standing/upright yellow cross.

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