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What Does This Non Lateral Marker Indicate? Here is the Answer!

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what does this non lateral marker indicate

Do you find piloting a boat riskier than driving a car because there are no roads and traffic signs to follow? I know how you must feel. However, if you know the answer to the question “what does this non lateral marker indicate,” you will find boating can be safe and fun, too.

In general, non-lateral markers give information on restricted and hazardous areas. I will help you understand these navigational aids to make your boating more exciting and safe.

What Does Non-Lateral Marker Indicate


Non-lateral markers are informational and regulatory markers that come in different shapes. A typical design is a white buoy with orange markings and black lettering. You can find these waterway signs in rivers, lakes, and other inland bodies of water.

What is an Information Buoy

An information marker buoy provides you with a piece of information you may find interesting. The signs can include symbols or words, depending on the info they convey.

This white buoy features an open-faced orange square on 2 sides and two orange horizontal stripes above and below the square. You can see the text or symbol inside the orange square.

For example, you may see an orange square non-lateral marker with a left-pointing arrow with the text ‘MARINA’ above it and a right-pointing arrow directing you to the beach.

You will know which way to pilot your boat.

What is a Control Buoy

A control marker buoy is almost similar to an information marker, except for the open-faced orange circle instead of an open-faced orange square. There are orange bands above and below the circle, too.

Inside the orange circle is a black symbol indicating the restriction type you must observe when navigating the waters.

So, a control buoy is a white marker with an orange circle and black lettering inside it.

Control buoys let you know the area of the water with restrictions. For example, if you see the number ‘6’ inside the orange circle, you can still pilot your boat in the area but not faster than six knots.

Some control buoys have a yellow lighting system that flashes every four seconds to get the boater’s attention.

What is a Safe Water Buoy

A safe water buoy is one of the easiest navigational aids to spot and understand.

When you see a red and white buoy floating on the water, you know you can traverse the waterway like you would an ordinary road. Each color covers half the buoy vertically.

You can see these markers in channel entrances and centers. All you need to do is pilot your boat on one side of the waterway, leaving the other side for oncoming boat traffic.

What is a Swimming Buoy

If you see white globular devices bobbing up and down the water’s surface and connected like fishing net floats, you know you cannot pilot your boat inside these markers.

Swimming buoys mark the area where people can swim and enjoy other water-related activities. It would be unsafe for them if you trespass this area.

Some swimming buoys come with a yellow flashing light to make them easier to spot.

What is a Keep Out Buoy

A keep-out buoy works to warn you never to pilot your boat beyond the marker. It is different from a control buoy in that you can still navigate the waters beyond the buoy, provided you observe the restrictions.

This navigational marker is also effortless to spot because it includes an open-faced orange diamond on a white background. The diamond also has two lines connecting opposing sides, resembling a kite. There are also the two orange horizontal bands running above and below the orange diamond.

In some buoys, you may see black letterings informing you of the nature of the prohibition. For example, you might read the word ‘dam’ below the diamond.

You can also see this marker in the middle of the swimming area.

What is an Obstruction Buoy


An obstruction buoy is unique compared with other non-lateral markers. Whereas most navigational aids feature the orange color, this buoy comes with black vertical stripes on a white background.

This non lateral marker black and white buoy cautions boaters of obstacles or hazards in the water. You cannot pass between this marker and the shoreline.

However, you should be able to pilot your vessel on the other side.

What is a Hazard Buoy

If you spot a white marker with orange diamond and black lettering, it would be best to proceed with extreme caution.

The marker alerts you to the presence of underwater hazards, such as shallow banks, rocky bottoms, and other submerged threats. The risk of running aground is high if you are not careful.

The marker is similar to a keep-out buoy, except that it does not have the two lines that cross inside the diamond.

What is a Mooring Buoy

You can consider this non lateral marker the boater’s equivalent of a parking sign. The mooring buoy has a white background and a blue horizontal stripe.

You can ‘park’ or moor your boat only with this navigational aid. If you tie it to a control buoy or an information marker, you will get penalized.

What is a Diving Buoy

There is no mistaking this navigational aid. It is a large white floating ball with a mast securing a red flag.

The flag has a white diagonal band that runs from the mast side’s top corner to the bottom corner of the free edge. You may also see a blue flag with a white stripe, indicating a diving operation.

Whenever you see a diving buoy, you must navigate the waters carefully and slowly. It would be best to steer clear of the area because there are divers in the water.


What does this non lateral marker indicate? It can provide you with information or regulate your actions or movements on the water. It pays to learn about these navigational aids to make your boating adventures more fun and safer for other people.

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