What the heck is a Preferred Channel Buoy?

Ah the dreaded Preferred Channel Buoy….what is this beast? This buoy can sink a vessel in the blink of an eye and has been known to cause magnetic disturbances….OF COURSE NOT!

This question was emailed to me just the other day so I figured why not blog it.

A Preferred Channel Buoy is actually very helpful and easy to understand. When two channels meet this buoy tells us which is the preferred channel of travel. That’s it. Kind of disappointing huh? What actually dictates which channel is preferred is typically decided by the Harbormasters over time but is typically the larger, more traveled, and busier channel. Kind of like the highway versus the back road.

So what do the colors mean. To travel the preferred channel, you treat this buoy with regards to its MAJORITY color. Two red strips and one green, treat it like a red buoy, Two green stripes and one red, treat it like a green buoy. All three of the buoys pictured above should be treated like RED buoys. If you want to travel the preferred channel where the MAJORITY of the traffic goes.