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Guide to Boating Signage in Southwest Florida

by Duncan Seawall

Just like along its roadways, maneuvering Florida’s waterways is a relaxing way to spend a Summer afternoon in the sunshine. But, just like on the road, you’ve got to obey the laws and signage that help guide boaters.

There are more you know, the more you will enjoy cruising the Florida waters. If you want to understand more about marine navigation routes, safety guidelines, boating etiquette tips, special marine species, and of course, maps, we're dedicating this blog to helping you understand basic boating signage in Florida.

Related Blog: Must-Know Rules for Boating Near Manatees in Southwest Florida

It's Your Responsibility to Control Your Wake

Before we get off the docks, let's start by understanding that it is your responsibility to control the wake from your boating vessel. You can be ticketed for not obeying the "IDLE SPEED - NO WAKE" and "SLOW SPEED - MINIMUM WAKE" signs. If damage occurs due to your boat's wake, you can incur fines and also have to pay for the damage and repairs.


Follow the Markers Leaving from- and Returning to the Marina

If you're leaving out from a marina, you must follow the correct way to head out. Captain Keith Lake from MarineMax shows you how to understand the channel markers. As you leave the marina, the green square marker should be on your right (starboard) side.

Once you reach marker 1, you are about to head out the marina's channel and into the ICW, and possibly on into the ocean. When you return, keep the red triangle markers on your right (starboard side). 

Follow and Stay Between the Channel Markers on the ICW

Boating in Florida, you're most likely going to be traveling in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). There are lots of markers along the way that help you navigate your way along this route. Remember the "yellow square and triangle" rule. The yellow square goes on your left (port), and the yellow triangle goes on your right (starboard.) Don't worry, we will keep reminding you.

Whenever you're traveling the ICW, you want to stay between the markers to avoid running your boat aground. Running aground can leave you stranded until you get a tow or a higher tide helps you off. And, you can damage your boat. 

Navigating Around Buoys and Channel Markers 

Along the ICW, some routes take you out into the Atlantic or the Gulf open water. You may come to a junction of four-way boating traffic, and you should know how to read the "Intracoastal Waterway NavAid Markings." Remember, you want to pay attention to the small "yellow square or triangle" markings to properly navigate through the water. 

There are many types of navigational markings that the USCG will use to communicate with boaters. While you may not encounter many maritime signs, the U.S. Coast Guard gives you the U.S. Aids To Navigation System to help you "stay safe on the water." 

In case you're curious, all these channel markings tie into navigational charts. If you're going to become an avid boater, you may invest in a chart plotter, and you will want to understand how to read a marine chart. As the BoatU.S. narrator states, some buoy markings can change to communicate how to safely maneuver after a shift of the soil. If nothing else, you can see why following the ICW markers are vital to safe boating.

Watch Out for Our Manatees and Follow the Signs

Responsible boating means you must also take care not to cause injury to our beautiful sea life. Please be sure to follow the signs and slow down for our manatees

Since 1979, Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift, LLC has been helping residents and businesses enjoy a Florida waterfront lifestyle. Equipped with highly-skilled staff and equipment, we are your full-service marine construction contractor. No matter the size of your waterfront project, we care about you and our Florida coastline. Contact us today

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