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The Canadian Aids to Navigation System

The Canadian Aids to Navigation System helps mariners to navigate waters safely. Learn about the aids used on a typical Canadian waterway.

Transcript: The Canadian Aids to Navigation System

Narrator: The Canadian Aids to Navigation System

Visual 1: There is a lighthouse with red and white horizontal stripes and a yellow beacon at the top that shines in a 180-degree circle. The lighthouse is located on a small island surrounded by large rocks against the background of a midnight-blue sky. Illuminated by the lighthouse, the title of the video appears in white letters: The Canadian Aids to Navigation System. This is a 2D animated video. After a short introduction, we will travel on a river in a craft from the entrance (downstream) to the head of the river (upstream). On our route, we will encounter different types of navigational aids which will be described as observed by the craft's mariner.

Narrator: Aids to Navigation are devices or systems, external to a vessel,

Visual 2: We are at the mouth of the river on which we will sail. On the left (port side), there is the coastline which appears raised and a lighthouse with red and white horizontal stripes. On the right (starboard side), the coastline looks rather flat. Between the two coasts, there is the horizon line, a blue sky and some white clouds. In the foreground on the water in the lower right corner is our white and grey craft with a narrow gold stripe running horizontally along the length of the craft. Towards the center of the image, halfway between our craft and the shoreline on the left (port side), there is a buoy with red and white vertical stripes of equal width. On the right (starboard side), halfway between the craft and the coast, there is a black buoy with a wide horizontal red stripe.

Narrator: …which are provided to assist mariners in determining position and course and to warn of dangers or obstructions.

Visual 3: The aerial view of a craft on the river heading towards an island on the far right of the image. There are two signposts on the river to warn our craft of the dangers and obstacles, and the direction to follow.

Narrator: The Canadian Aids to Navigation System is comprised of a mix of visual, audible and electronic aids.

Visual 4: There are three images of navigation aids as if they were being viewed from a porthole. On the left, in the largest porthole, same image of the lighthouse with red and white horizontal stripes and a yellow beacon at the top. A small picture in the upper right corner shows a red and white striped fixed aid bearing a light. The image on the bottom right shows a black buoy with a wide red horizontal stripe bearing a light and two black spherical topmark, one on top of the other. The three images are on a dark blue background.

Narrator: The following is a description of the various types of fixed and floating Aids to Navigation you will encounter while navigating in Canadian waters.

Visual 5: Eighteen kinds of fixed and floating aids of different colors, shapes and categories. The floating buoys move with the motion of the waves. All these aids and more will be described in this video.

Narrator: Here is a representation of a typical waterway with aids to navigation. Follow along as we take note of each type of aid.

Visual 6: An aerial view of the river on which we will navigate, going from upstream to downstream and quickly displaying the buoyage, or maritime signs that will be explained in this video. Before heading downstream, there is an island to the far right around which we will navigate safely with the help of various navigation aids.

Narrator: Let's Begin.

Visual 8: We are now aboard our craft and the journey begins. An aerial view shows us that we are on the water and in motion and that we are heading towards the mouth of the river.

Narrator: A fairway buoy marks landfalls, channel entrances or channel centers. It may be passed on either side, …

Visual 9: We are at the helm of our craft and there is a navigation screen right in front. Beyond the bow is a mid-channel buoy with red and white vertical stripes of equal width, a red spherical light and a white light. Two slightly rounded arrows, indicating the direction of passage on either side of this buoy. In the distance, on the starboard bow, a black buoy with a wide horizontal red stripe.

Narrator:…but should be kept to port (left) when traveling either upstream or downstream.

Visual 10: We keep the mid-channel buoy on the port side.

Narrator: Major lighted aids indicate landfall and helps mariners determine their position.

Visual 11: We are now on the river. Abeam, on the port side, there is the lighthouse located on a point of land surrounded by large rocks. On the starboard bow, there is a black buoy with a wide horizontal red stripe and a topmark consisting of two overlapping black spheres.

Narrator: Isolated danger aids are moored on or stationed above an isolated danger with navigable water surrounding it.

We are on the move and keep an isolated black fairway buoy with a wide horizontal red stripe and a topmark consisting of two black spheres superimposed on the starboard side.

Narrator : The starboard lateral buoy marks the starboard side of a channel or a danger to be kept on the vessel’s starboard side.

Visual 13: An aerial view of our craft heading between two lateral buoys. On the starboard side, there is a red starboard buoy with a red conical light pointing upwards and a little further on the same side, a red spar with a conical top. On the port side, there is a green port hand buoy with a green cylindrical topmark (can) and a little further on, a green spar with a flat top.

Narrator: When heading upstream keep this aid on your starboard (right) side.

Visual 14: We are now heading straight ahead between two lateral buoys, keeping the red starboard hand buoy on the starboard side (right) and the green port hand buoy on the port side (left). A little further on, there are some spars indicating the direction to follow. There are also some fixed and floating aids further out.

Narrator: The port lateral buoy marks the port side of a channel or a danger to be kept on the vessel’s port side.

Visual 15: We passed the starboard hand buoy. Straight ahead, there is a green port hand buoy that we will keep to the port side of our craft. A little further on, there are other buoys indicating the direction to follow. There are also some fixed and floating aids further out.

Narrator: When heading upstream, keep this aid on your port side.

Visual 16: We pass between a green port hand buoy on our left and a red starboard hand buoy on our right.

Narrator: Nil

Visual 17: We have passed the two side buoys and two spars and are heading for an island. On the port side, there is the mouth of a stream and two fixed aids on each side. Right in front of our craft, there is a red floating aid with a large green stripe and behind this aid, there is an island.

Narrator: Minor lighted aids indicate characteristics of lateral significance such as the opening of a channel or canal.

Visual 18: We are now parallel to the mouth of the stream and on each side there is a minor lighted aid. If we were to proceed to the mouth of the stream, the white fixed aid with a green stripe and a light would be kept on the port side and on the starboard side, there would be the white fixed aid with a red stripe and a light.

Narrator: A starboard bifurcation buoy marks the point where a channel divides.

Visual 19: We passed the port and starboard hand buoys as well as the mouth of the stream and its two minor lighted aids. We are closing in on a starboard bifurcation aid and keeping it on the starboard side. On each side of the starboard bifurcation buoy there is an arrow indicating that we can pass on either side, but the main channel is on the port side to keep the starboard bifurcation buoy to the starboard side of the craft.

Narrator: When heading upstream, keep this buoy on the vessel’s starboard side when the main channel is desired.

Visual 20: We head for the main channel and keep the starboard bifurcation buoy on the starboard side. Further away, there are also other buoys indicating the way to follow and two fixed aids on the coast which we will talk about soon.

Narrator: A port bifurcation buoy with the opposite colors will direct you to the right channel.

Visual 21: A close-up of our red and green starboard bifurcation buoy disappearing and the port bifurcation buoy appearing with inversed colors, green with a large red stripe and a cylindrical topmark (can), simply to demonstrate that if such a buoy was present, a white arrow to the right (port side) of the island would indicate that the main channel would be on the starboard side.

Narrator: Ranges provides a leading line for navigators.

Visual 22: We are in the main channel and have kept the starboard bifurcation buoy on the starboard side. On the coast, directly in front of our craft, there are two perfectly superimposed light range towers towards which our craft is heading. The range consists of two red trapezoidal marks with a black vertical stripe, one behind the other, usually on or near the coast and when perfectly superimposed for the navigator, indicates the correct course to follow. A little further on the starboard side, there is a port and a starboard hand buoy, indicating the route to stay in the main channel.

Narrator: When the two dayboards or the two lights are in line, the vessel is on the recommended track.

Visual 23: An aerial view of our craft on the river in the main channel aligning perfectly with the two fixed trapezoidal marks following the recommended route. There are also several floating aids around the island to show the different possible safe routes.

Narrator: Consult the relevant chart for the portion of the track serviced by the range.

Visual 24: Return to the image showing the two ranges facing our craft.

Narrator: The Cardinal Aid indicates the cardinal direction of the safest waters with its colors and topmark. Symbols are described in The Canadian Aids to Navigation System publication.

Visual 25: We are in the main channel on the port side of the island and have passed the range lights and are passing between two red and green buoys. We continue our course and keep an East cardinal buoy, black with a wide yellow stripe and two opposing arrows at the top, one up and one down, on the starboard side. A little further on the port side, there is a fixed aid with a beam of light showing a combination of green, white and red colors respectively.

Narrator: A sector light is normally divided into sectors of different colours. It provides a leading line or warning to mariners.

Visual 26: Directly on the port side, we pass a sector light that shows in turn its green, white and red characteristics.

Narrator: A no anchorage aid marks a zone where anchoring is not allowed. Check your chart for exact zone borders. The area may contain submerged pipelines, power lines, etc.

Visual 27: We arrive upstream and we have a general view of the next navigation aids that will be described. The zoomed-in image on the left is a no anchorage aid illustrated by the symbol of a black anchor with a diagonal red stripe running from the upper left to the lower right corner, in the center of a white square panel. An underwater view shows pipes and/or cables underwater.

Narrator: Day beacons are unlighted fixed aids. As with lateral buoys, green indicates port limits and red indicates starboard limits for vessels travelling upstream.

Visual 28: Straight ahead, indicating the entrance to a channel, are two fixed day beacons. On the port side of the channel, there is a port hand day beacon in the form of a black square centered on a white background and surrounded by a green border. On the starboard side of the channel, there is a starboard hand day beacon in the form of a red triangle centered on a white background and surrounded by a red border.

Narrator: The remaining aids are all “special aids.” As with all special aids, look for colours and flash characters. The shape of the aid has no significance.

Visual 29: Four special floating buoys of different shapes and colors which will be described shortly.

Narrator: ODAS buoys are Scientific buoys. They collect scientific data.

Visual 30: We are now stopped and straight ahead, there are several special buoys and some crafts. On the right, we have zoomed in on a yellow ODAS oceanographic data acquisition scientific buoy with various small probes and antennas.

Narrator: Keep-out buoys mark areas in which boats are prohibited.

Visual 31: Further out are four white kept-out buoys bearing an orange diamond with an orange cross and two orange horizontal stripes, one above the diamond and one below.

Narrator: Anchorage buoys mark the perimeter of a designated anchorage area. Please check charts for depth.

Visual 32: A yellow and white craft in the middle of four yellow anchoring buoys with a black anchor symbol.

Narrator: A mooring buoy is used for mooring or securing vessels.

Visual 33: Another yellow and white craft next to a white and orange mooring buoy, with the orange covering the top third of the buoy above the waterline.

Narrator: This concludes our journey. These are the primary aids to navigation you may encounter.

Visual 34: We arrive at our destination and drop the anchor in a perimeter defined by four anchorage buoys. We share the area with another craft already anchored.

Narrator: In addition you might see: The information buoy, providing various kinds of information, such as localities, campsites, etc.

Visual 35: From our anchorage area we see, in turn, various special buoys, such as a white information buoy with an orange square outline and two orange horizontal stripes above and below the square.

Narrator: The cautionary buoy, marking dangers such as firing ranges, underwater pipelines, etc.

Visual 36: A yellow cautionary buoy.

Narrator: The hazard buoy, marking random hazards such as small shoals or rocks. More information is shown inside the diamond.

Visual 37: A white hazard buoy with an orange diamond on two opposite sides and two orange horizontal stripes, one above and one below the diamond.

Narrator: The control buoy, illustrating certain restrictions to be followed (such as speed limits).

Visual 38: A white control buoy with an orange circle on two opposite sides and two orange horizontal bands, one above and one below the circle. You can see the circle enlarged to indicate the restriction of a maximum of 7.5.

Narrator: The diving buoy, marking an area where scuba or other diving is in progress. These are not normally charted.

Visual 39: A white diving buoy carrying a square red flag with a white diagonal stripe extending from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

Narrator: The swimming buoy marks the perimeter of a swimming area. They are often not charted.

Visual 40: A white swimming buoy.

Narrator: Port and starboard bifurcation daybeacons are unlighted fixed aids marking points where a channel divides. The preferred channel is indicated by colour, as with other aids.

Visual 41: and two bifurcation day beacons. The port bifurcation beacon is a green square on a white diamond surrounded by a red border. The starboard bifurcation beacon is a red triangle on a white diamond surrounded by a red border.

Narrator: For more information, see the full Canadian Aids to Navigation System on the Canadian Coast Guard website.

Visual 42: This is a computer screen showing the Canadian Aids to Navigation System website.

Visual 43: Canadian Coast Guard Logo

Visual 44: To conclude this video, the Government of Canada logo appears to the left of a mid-channel buoy.

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