Chart 1 : Symbols, Abbreviations and Terms

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Buoys, Beacons - Section Q

IALA Maritime Buoyage System

Ref. Description
130 IALA - International Association of Lighthouse Authorities
Where in force, the IALA system applies to all fixed and floating marks except lighthouses, sector lights, leading lights and leading marks, light vessels and lanbys. The standard buoy shapes are cylindrical (can; ), conical ( ), spherical ( ), pillar ( ) and spar ( ), but variations may occur, for example: minor lightfloats. In the illustrations below, only the standard buoy shapes are used. In the case of fixed beacons (lit or unlit) only the shape of the topmark is of navigational significance.
130.1 LATERAL MARKS are generally for welldefined channels. There are two international Buoyage Regions - A and B - where lateral marks differ.
A preferred channel buoy may also be a pillar or spar. All preferred channel marks have horizontal bands of colour. Where, for exceptional reasons, an Authority considers that green for buoys is not satisfactory, black may be used.
The direction of buoyage is that taken when approaching a harbour from seaward or along coasts, the direction determined by buoyage authorities, normally clockwise around land masses.

Symbol showing direction of buoyage where not obvious

Symbol showing direction of buoyage on multicoloured charts

In the illustrations below, all marks are the same in Regions A and B.
130.3 CARDINAL MARKS indicating navigable water to the named side of the marks.

Topmark: 2 black cones

The same abbreviations are used for lights on spar buoys and beacons. The periods 5s, 10s and 15s may not always be charted.
130.4 ISOLATED DANGER MARKS stationed over dangers with navigable waters around them
Body: black with red horizontal band
Topmark: 2 black spheres
white light
130.5 SAFE WATER MARKS such as midchannel and landfall marks
Body: red and white vertical stripes
Topmark (if any): red sphere
white light
130.6 SPECIAL MARKS not primarily to assist navigation but to indicate special features
Body (shape optional): yellow or white.
In special cases, white can be in conjunction with another colour.
Topmark (if any): yellow X.
Light (if any): yellow
Rhythm optional
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