Section 31.142 of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Code authorizes the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to provide for a standardized buoy-marking program for the inland water of the state. Under 31 Texas Administrative Code section 55.304, the Department adopted the U.S. Aids to Navigation System contained in 33 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 62 for Texas public waters. The United States Coast Guard administers the U.S. Aids to Navigation System.
The U.S. Aids to Navigation System primarily employs an arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers, and light characteristics to mark the limits of navigable routes.
Aids to navigation are placed on shore or on marine sites to assist a navigator to determine his/her position or safe course. The primary components of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System are beacons and buoys. Beacons are aids to navigation structures that are permanently fixed to the earth’s surface. Think lighthouses. Buoys are floating aids to navigation that are moored to the seabed by sinkers with chain or other moorings of various lengths.
Lateral marks define the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of a route to be followed. They may be either beacons or buoys. Sidemarks are lateral marks that advise the mariner to stay to one side of the mark. Preferred channel marks indicate channel junctions or bifurcations and may also mark wrecks or obstructions which the mariner, after consulting a chart to ascertain the location of the obstruction relative to the aid, may pass on either side.
I spent ten minutes explaining this to my daughter.
Her response? “I was just curious why they floated.”
For a simple explanation of Texas buoys and water markers, check out this webpage.
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