A few days ago we posted a Trivia question concerning the direction that a boat was going based on the Aides markers it was passing. Most who answered were absolutely correct about “Red Right Returning” and Tom D, who was the first to answer that the boat was going out to sea, wins a Nautical Know How T-shirt. However, we got a response from Eamonn who boats in Ireland where “Red Port is Left in the Can” is the mnemonic used to remember that Red is left on the port side when coming in from sea.
Why would it be different in Ireland? Because the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (or IALA for short) has developed 2 regions that exist around the world; notably the IALA region A and the IALA region B. Region B covers the whole of the Americas, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, while the rest of the world belongs to the region A.
U.S. Aids to Navigation (U.S. ATONS)
The buoys and beacons in this system conform to the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) guidelines and are located in IALA region B. They are sometimes referred to as the IALA-B system. In this system, there are lateral and non-lateral markers. The lateral markers indicate the navigable channel by their position, shape, coloring, numbering and light characteristics. The non-lateral markers are informational and regulatory markers.
To navigate safely using the lateral markers, you should pass between the red and green. Returning from sea, the red markers are on your right (red, right, returning) and the green are on your left.
Lateral Buoys and waterway markers
In the International system, navigation aids mark the edges of channels to tell which way open water is. They are called day beacons if unlighted, lights if lighted at night, or buoys if they are floating. Some buoys are also lighted for identification at night.
“Red, Right, Returning” tells you to leave the red markers to your right, or starboard, when returning from sea. The green markers are then left on your port side and between is the channel. Be sure to look behind you when navigating a narrow channel to make sure you are not being pushed out by wind or current.
Floating Red markers are called nuns and are triangular in shape. They are numbered with even numbers. Floating Green markers, on the other hand, are called cans and are square or shaped like a large can and carry odd numbers.