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Waterway Navigation

Uniform State Waterway Marking System

image of the flags and bouys of the uniform state waterway marker system

Tennessee uses the uniform system of buoys and markers that are standard in the United States. These buoys and markers are placed for your assistance and safety. In addition to written messages on the buoys, there are a variety of colors, shapes and symbols which aid in the recognition of a particular buoy. Take a minute to study the diagram showing how the buoys may be used.

 

 

 

Navigational Aids

A. Diver's Flag: Must be used any time a diver is in the water. Boats must not come closer than 50 feet of the flag and must operate at a slow, no-wake speed within 200 feet. 

B. Alpha Flag: Means a vessel is engaged in diving operations or is restricted in its ability to navigate. Boaters must use extreme caution and are advised to look for a diver's-down flag. 

C. Mooring Buoys: Means an anchor buoy. This is the only buoy to which a boat may tie or secure to. 
 

D. Red Channel Marker Buoy: Traveling upstream, you should pass to the left of this buoy as it marks the right side of the channel. 

E. Green (or black) Channel Marker Buoy: Traveling upstream, you should pass to the right of this buoy as it marks the left side of the channel. 

F. Junction Buoy (RED OVER GREEN): means two channels are coming together and you pass to the left of the buoy as you travel upstream. 

G. Junction Buoy (GREEN OVER RED): means two channels are coming together and you should pass to the right of the buoy as you travel upstream. 

H. Boats Keep Out Buoy: Marks a swimming area, area near a dam, or any area where boats are not allowed. 

I. Danger Buoy: Marks an obstruction, ferry cable, or any area where boats should not navigate or should use extreme caution. 

J. Information Buoy: Used to relay information. Words printed in black (usually inside the border) tell place names, distances, directional arrows, availability of supplies, gasoline, etc. 

K. Control Buoy: Marks a restricted area such as "slow no-wake," 5 MPH, no skiing or no fishing. 

L. Passing Daymark (RED): A sign mounted on poles in the water or on the bank which is used in the same manner as a channel marker buoy. In this case it marks the right side of the channel as you travel upstream. 

M. Passing Daymark (GREEN): A sign mounted on poles in the water or on the bank which is used in the same manner as a channel marker buoy. In this case it marks the left side of the channel as you travel upstream. 

N. Channel Crossing Daymark (RED): A sign mounted on poles in the water or on the bank which means the channel is crossing from the right bank to the left bank as you travel upstream. 

O. Channel Crossing Daymark (GREEN): A sign mounted on poles in the water or on the bank which means the channel is crossing from the left bank to the right bank as you travel upstream. 

 

Establishing Private Aids, Markers or Platforms

Permission to establish private aids, markers or buoys on public waterways by groups, individuals and municipalities other than the federal government must be obtained by written request to the Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Mooring or fastening watercraft to any buoy or marker other than a mooring buoy is prohibited except in case of an emergency.

Removal of any buoy or marker by any unauthorized personnel is prohibited.

Ski Jumps and slalom courses may be established on public water only through permit from the Executive Director of the Wildlife Resources Agency.