Aids to Navigation can provide a boater with information similar to that which drivers get from street signs, stop signals, road barriers, detours, and traffic lights.

This booklet will give you, the recreational boater, the basic information you need about the U.S. Aids to Navigation System (USATONS). This information will help you recognize, understand, and navigate by the colors, shapes, numbers, and lights you will encounter on the water. It will also give you the basic tools you need to read a nautical chart. In addition, you will find information on safety, the proper way to interact with other vessels, tips on boating at night, and how to handle special situations you might encounter, like bridges and locks.

Take some time to review this booklet, and keep it onboard your boat as a quick reference. Your understanding of the markers you see on the water will help ensure that you, your family, and your friends have fun – and safe – boating trips.

Safety Related Items

Steer Clear

75 Feet Away
Diving Buoy Flag
(Mandatory in Virginia)

Steer Clear

Steer Clear
Float or Vessel
Diver Down Flag

Lake Gaston Buoys and Markers

Do Not Pass Between Buoy and Nearest Land

Clearance Height

Danger - Stay Clear by 50 Feet

Mile Marker with Light East End #1 to West End #32

Narrow Channel with Light No Skiing, Tubing, or Wake Boards

Danger Sharp Curve

Slow No Wake

Slow No Wake with Light

State Line with Light

Swim Area

It's the LAW

FEDERAL REGULATIONS REQUIRE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 13 WEAR A U.S. COAST GUARD APPROVED LIFE JACKET AT ALL TIMES WHEN UNDERWAY.

When choosing a life vest for a child, always check for:

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved label
  • Matching it to the child’s current weight
  • Making sure it is snug but comfortable

Rules for Passing and Overtaking Other Vessles

Head on Situation

ONE SHORT BLAST
Pass to Right (Starboard)

Passing

ONE SHORT BLAST
Maintain Course

Passing

TWO SHORT BLASTS
Maintain Course

Overtaking

ONE SHORT HORN BLAST FROM RIGHT (Starboard Side)
TWO SHORT HORN BLASTS FROM LEFT (Port Side)

Crossing

Pass Astern of Boat on Right (Starboard Side)