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Nautical Information Needed
January 9, 2013 1:17 PM   Subscribe

We've been doing some research for a project and need some help finding out what a particular sign (or type of sign) means.

We came across these signs, which are used in nautical navigation. We’ve been trying to figure out what the bottom row of signs means, and all searches lead to stock-image sites with drawings like this one, not to any information about what they mean.

So: anyone know what those yellow signs with the black vertical line in them mean? Of particular interest is the diamond/rhombus-shaped version.
posted by notclosed to Grab Bag (13 answers total)
 
This might be useful - the page refers to the position of lights on buoys, but that specific color pattern seems to refer to a channel where the safest passage would be to the west. (Scroll down to look.)

I would contact the originators of that site to confirm with them that you can use that indicator on signs as well as buoys, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:23 PM on January 9, 2013


Those are the Bouyage System. (Boy, I had to wear out my google fu for that)

They are different in different countries. Here's a Wikipedia article, not very comprehensive.

Germany


General info
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2013


For clarity, those are all called "navigation buoys" or "aids to navigation", not nautical signs. The colors and shapes are for daytime navigation and the lights are for nighttime.

I imagine that'll make searching easier.
posted by fshgrl at 1:44 PM on January 9, 2013


Also yellow is a cardinal buoy and marks the extent of danger. I can't remember exactly but the top marks (bottom row in your link) indicate the bearing the danger is in relative to the buoy (east west for triangles, north south for stripes I think.
posted by fshgrl at 1:56 PM on January 9, 2013


You see those vertical bar sign on the bridges in Amsterdam.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:35 PM on January 9, 2013


Agree with the above info about buoys. The red and green are so you keep on the correct side of each: red signs/buoys are to always be on your port side, and the green ones on your starboard side. (If you go on the 'wrong side', you'll be outside of the navigation channel, i.e. out of deep water, and risk making a hole on your hull with shallow rocks or beaching.)

And for info's sake, port and starboard: if you are facing the bow --- the front --- of your vessel, port is on your left and starboard on your right. If you're facing the stern --- the rear end of your vessel --- port will be on your right and starboard on your left. Port and starboard never change sides of the vessel. Running lights for the port side are always red, and the running lights for starboard are always green, all of which ties in with the above navigational markers being red or green. (This works for aircraft as well.) If you see a ship at night and it has a green light on your left and red on your right, that ship is headed straight at you; if their red is on your left and their green is on your right they're going straight away from you. If all you see is red lights, they're passing across from your right to your left, and vice versa if all you see is green lights.
posted by easily confused at 2:46 PM on January 9, 2013


Thanks for all the information so far. We've been looking through all the links, and have yet to find an answer to our specific question--what's that diamond-shaped yellow sign with the vertical black stripe in it? It seems to be related to danger, but not to the red/green port/starboard business.
posted by notclosed at 2:59 PM on January 9, 2013


The "sign" is a topsign. You'll have to look up the exact meaning, I don't remember because electronic charts. Try any coastguard website or basic sailing navigation site.

red signs/buoys are to always be on your port side,

No. The red buoys are to your right as you head in to port, left as you head out. Red, Right, Return.
posted by fshgrl at 3:14 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or try dayboard, I guess they could be those. That's basically a sign that says "look at your chart".

It's also possible these exact symbols are only used in a specific location for a specific purpose.
posted by fshgrl at 3:29 PM on January 9, 2013


red signs/buoys are to always be on your port side,

No. The red buoys are to your right as you head in to port, left as you head out. Red, Right, Return.


Warning! Warning! This is country-dependent! The US is odd in its Red, Right, Return thing! From personal experience, the UK, Australia, and Singapore all do the reverse. And it's not just a "what side of the road do they drive on" issue. There are a couple different international standards for red and green buoys and what side they should be on and you need to know where you are and what the local standard is.

But yes, for the US and Canada, it is Red Right Return.
posted by olinerd at 3:48 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


-what's that diamond-shaped yellow sign with the vertical black stripe in it? It seems to be related to danger, but not to the red/green port/starboard business.

I'll let others more knowledgeable speak to this, but I'm not sure that the specific shape of the sign means as much as does the color. I think the only reason that they're showing you those different shapes is to emphasize that "sometimes the signs can be different shapes, what you really want to look for is the color".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:58 PM on January 9, 2013


See pp. 160-161 of the UNECE European Code for Inland Waterways. The lozenge symbol, yellow and black, represents the cross-over to the left bank of a channel.
posted by jet_silver at 9:39 PM on January 9, 2013


No. The red buoys are to your right as you head in to port, left as you head out. Red, Right, Return.

Actually it varies depending on your region.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:45 AM on January 10, 2013


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