The Canadian Aids to Navigation System 2011

Fixed Aids to Navigation

General

The characteristics of fixed aids are for identification purposes. They consist of the light colour, flash character, and the colour and shape of the structure, as advertised in the appropriate List of Lights, Buoys and Fog
Signals publication.

Lighted Fixed aids

General

Lighted fixed aids are structures equipped with a light and located at prominent sites to assist the mariner to fix his position. They may be at or near shorelines or on built up, man made piers in or near waterways. The structure and colour(s) of lighted fixed aids are often selected for maximum visibility and ease of identification and may or may not have lateral significance.

Types

The types and shapes of fixed, lighted structures used in Canada are varied. They may have vertical or tapering sides, may be circular, square, polygonal or octagonal in shape, and may be constructed of wood, masonry, concrete, metal or fibreglass. They may be slender cylindrical structures such as pipes or poles or open skeleton towers.

Major lighted aids are coastal landfall lights that have distinctive characteristics to assist the mariner in determining his exact location.

Minor lighted aids are fixed marks which indicate position or warn of dangers. Typically, minor lighted aids which display a single red, green or black band or a daybeacon mark lateral significance. Minor lighted aids which display double red bands provide for secondary landfall. Where these secondary landfall aids are also used to define lateral significance, a directional symbol (e.g. a green square – port) will be displayed between the two red bands.

Note:

See the Canadian Aids to Navigation System map for a further explanation of these types.

Isolated Danger Aids are installed above an isolated danger which has navigable water all around it. It is black with one broad red horizontal band and displays identification letter(s). For more characteristics, please refer to page 26.

Cardinal Aids indicate the location of the safest or deepest water by reference to the cardinal points of the compass. There are four cardinal aids: North, East, South and West. Please refer to page 26 for characteristics as they are similar to cardinal buoys characteristics.

Lateral Significance

When proceeding upstream, fixed aids displaying a red triangular symbol in the centre of the daymark or a single red band at the top of the tower must be kept on the vessel’s starboard (right) hand side. Fixed aids displaying a black or green square symbol in the centre of the daymark or a single green or black band at the top of the tower must be kept on the vessel’s port (left) hand side.

Fixed aids displaying an open faced red diamond symbol in the centre of the daymark indicate a division in the channel and may be passed on either side. However, when proceeding upstream, a red triangle in the centre of the red diamond indicates that the preferred route is to the left (i.e. the aid should be kept on the vessel’s starboard (right) side). Similarly, a black or green square in the centre of the red diamond indicates that the preferred route is to the right (i.e. the aid should be kept on the vessel’s port (left) side).

Light Characteristics

The following are the names, abbreviations (as they appear on nautical charts), and descriptions of the basic types of light flash characters for Canadian light stations:

Names, abbreviations (as they appear on nautical charts), and descriptions of the basic types of light flash characters for Canadian light stations
NameAbbreviationDescription
Fixed F A light which appears continuous
Isophase Iso A light in which the alternations of light and darkness are of equal length.
Flashing Fl A light in which the flash is clearly shorter than the duration of darkness (eclipse) and in which the flashes of light are all of equal duration.
Occulting Oc A light in which the flash is clearly longer that the duration of darkness (eclipse) and in which the intervals of darkness are all of equal duration.
Emergency Backup FI(6)15s A light in which a group of 6 flashes is regularly repeated at a rate of 4 sets per minute (every 15 seconds)

The duration of flash and darkness of each light may vary and are advertised in the appropriate List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals. Mariners are advised that there may be more than one light flash character displayed by a light station (e.g. a high intensity flashing light may be superimposed on a fixed light) and thus, the List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals should be consulted to ensure proper identification.

Light Colours

The choice of light colour for fixed aids is dependent on individual site conditions (e.g. presence of background light) and the luminous range of the light colour in relation to those conditions. As a result, no set rules exist for such lights and mariners should always consult the chart to determine the function of each light.

There are, however, a few general guidelines which may be followed:

  1. Major coastal landfall lights are normally white,
  2. Green or red lights are normally used to denote port and starboard lateral significance, and
  3. Yellow lights may be used to define areas where caution should be exercised.

Any white, green, or red light may be changed to yellow without warning in situations where a new hazard necessitates the exercise of caution. An example of such a situation is where silting results in a reduction of water depths restricting safe navigation to only small vessels.

Daybeacons

General

Generally, daybeacons are unlighted aids used primarily to assist the mariner during daylight hours where night navigation is negligible or where it is not practicable to operate a light. However, they can also be found on minor lighted aids.

Colour, shape and possibly a number are the characteristics that identify the significance of a daybeacon to the mariner. Retroreflective and/or fluorescent material is applied to the daybeacons to improve their visibility and identification at night with the aid of a searchlight.

A daybeacon is positioned facing the direction of the mariner’s approach. Where it is necessary to display daybeacons facing two directions, the two daybeacons shall be mounted back-to-back, or in such a fashion as to not distort the shape or appearance of the daybeacon from either direction of approach.

Starboard Hand Daybeacon

A starboard hand daybeacon is triangular, with a red fluorescent triangular centre on a white background and with a red retroreflective border. It may display an even number made of white retroreflective material. When proceeding upstream, a starboard hand daybeacon must be kept on the vessel’s starboard (right) side.

Port Hand Daybeacon

A port hand daybeacon is square with a green fluorescent or black square centre on a white background and with a green retroreflective border. It may display an odd number made of white retroreflective material. When proceeding upstream, a port hand daybeacon must be kept on the vessel’s port (left) side.

Bifurcation/Junction Daybeacon

A bifurcation/junction daybeacon is of diamond shape and marks a point where the channel divides and may be passed on either side. When proceeding in the upstream direction, a bifurcation/junction daybeacon displaying a red retroreflective triangle on a white diamond with a red fluorescent border indicates that the preferred route is to the left. Similarly a green retroreflective square on a white diamond with a red fluorescent border indicates that the preferred route is to the right. When proceeding downstream, the positions and meanings of these daybeacons are reversed.

No anchorage

A no anchorage daybeacon is square with a black anchor symbol centred on a white background with a red fluorescent diagonal stripe superimposed across it. Do not anchor within the zone indicated on the chart. The area may contain submerged pipelines, power cables, etc.

Ranges

A range consists of a trapezoidal shape fixed navigation marks with the front daymark resembling the lower half of an hourglass and the rear daymark resembling the top half of an hourglass; and consist of a red, white, or black strip running vertically on the front and rear daymarks, superimposed on a red, white, or black background. Ranges may or may not be lighted. If lighted, the colours of the range daymarks as well as the colours and characters of the lights are advertised in the appropriate List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals publication. In some cases, 24 hours range lights may be provided without the addition of daymarks.

Aural Aids

General

Aural aids are sound producing aids such as bell buoys, whistle buoys and fog horns, that warn mariners of dangers when visual aids are obscured by weather conditions.

Operation

Aural aids are normally operated manually or automatically when visibility is reduced to less than two nautical miles. Although they are relied upon by specific users when the availability target cannot be met by the designed system, they may only be used as a hazard warning since they are not considered effective aids to navigation.

If a need to augment an aid to navigation system with sound signals is determined, the propagation of sound in the area must be considered to determine the best aural aid to be used.

Characteristics

The mariner can identify aural aids by their characteristics. When advertised in the List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals, those characteristics and directional positioning of the aid will be included, as shown in the example below.

Aural aids characteristics

  • No.: 6 H440

  • Name: Cape Pine

  • Position: On the cape

  • Latitude N.: 46 37 01.1

  • Longitude W.: 53 31 53.1

  • Light Characteristics:

    • FI
    • W
    • 5s
  • Focal height in m. above water: 95.7

  • Nominal Range: 16

  • Description: Cylindrical tower, red and white horizontal bands.

  • Height in meters above ground: 18.4

  • Remarks: Flash 0.5 s; eclipse 4.5 s. Year round

  • Fog Signals:

    • Horn - Blast 4 s; sil. 56 s. Horn points 159°.
    • Chart - 4842

Sector Lights

General

A sector light consists of a single light whose total luminous beam is normally divided into sectors of different colours to provide a warning or a leading line to mariners. Occasionally, a sector light will display a single colour light beam with a restricted angle of coverage (see illustration in the Canadian Aids to Navigation System map). The colour(s) and boundaries of these sectors are indicated in the appropriate List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals publication and on nautical charts.

Characteristics

When only a red sector is used within a white luminous beam, the red sector marks obstructions such as shoals.

A combination of red, white and green sectors in a luminous beam is used to provide a leading line to mariners. When proceeding upstream, the red sector indicates the starboard hand limit, the white sector indicates the recommended course, and the green sector indicates the port hand limit. When proceeding downstream the positions of the red and green sectors are reversed.

Sector Lights with Oscillating Boundaries

Some sector lights may be equipped with an oscillating boundary feature. This creates additional “boundary sectors” between solid sectors. Within these boundary sectors the rhythm of the alternating light colours will give the observer a visual indication of his position.

The most common application of this feature is with the three colour (red/white/green) leading line sector light, however, the mariner should consult the chart and other publications for the proper interpretation and usage of each light. Regardless of the orientation of the colours, the chart symbol (abbreviation) for a three colour sector light is always RWG.

For example, when proceeding upstream and crossing a three colour oscillating boundary sector light marking an upstream course from left to right, the observer would see, in order:

  • G - Solid Green

  • AIGW - Green and white alternating every three (3) seconds. The duration of white would be brief when first entering the boundary sector but would become progressively longer as the observer crosses towards the white sector.

  • W - Solid white

  • AIRW - Red and white alternating every three (3) seconds, the period of red being brief when entering the boundary sector. As the observer crosses towards the solid red sector the period of time for which red is seen increases.

  • R - Solid Red