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Fortunately for mariners, these days most well-traveled entrance channels are marked with red and green lateral buoys to help keep boats from running onto the shallows. Although it does vary according to which part of the world you’re operating in*, we know that here in Grenada, when following a channel into a port, we keep the red markers on our starboard side (red right returning) and the green ones on our port side.

If the reefs and shallow water near the Hog Island entrance channel weren’t enough to make coming into the bay interesting for those new to the area, there is a somewhat special buoy alongside the deep water which can add to the excitement. When following the deep water channel towards Hog Island, with red markers on the Starboard (right) hand side, just as you come abeam of some obviously shallow water where waves are frequently breaking over the reef, you’ll see a buoy which appears to be predominantly red on your Port side. Oh oh! Are you in the wrong place? Not necessarily.

This red-green-red marker, known as a bifurcation buoy, actually signals a split in the channel. In this case, it indicates where boats heading towards Mt. Hartman Bay can turn off to follow the safe water to that anchorage instead of into Hog Island. Because the channel leading to Mt. Hartman Bay is considered to be the primary channel, the buoy is colored red-green-red and those wishing to go that way should keep that mark on their starboard side. If instead you wish to continue on into the Hog Island anchorage, you should treat the mark as being a green lateral buoy, keeping it on the port side. Confused? I can see why. If one was to study the charts prior to arriving though, as of course you would (right?), you wouldn’t be quite as surprised to see this less-common mark. Of course, the waves, wind, weather and any growth on the buoy can make deciphering these marks a bit tricky but again, prior planning will help.

Even though this chart shows a RGR marker in the center between the two bays, it does not even begin to accurately represent the current placement of the buoys!

Can you tell if the mark in the distance is a red lateral buoy or the RGR bifurcation buoy? Even after zooming in on the image, we couldn’t tell.

*2 regions exist around the world; notably the IALA region A and the IALA region B. Region B covers the whole of the Americas, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, while the rest of the world belongs to the region A.” Source


  1. I’ll assume it’s one of the R’s of that reef and the green is just out of the picture to the left because if it was the RGR I should be able to see a G or two in the distance but of course ‘I’ do not know where you are anchored. That was fun though!

  2. Mike,

    Do you ever see anyone surfing out there?


    • No, and I don’t think people even surf the windward side of the island here. There are however a couple of kite boarders who have been playing out at the mouth of Mt. Hartman Bay the last couple of weeks.

  3. Looks red to me, but I am playing Monday morning quarterback…..It is always different when entering any channel for the first time…..

  4. Just curious, whats the unit of measure for your chart there. Feet or meters?

  5. ” Of course, the waves, wind, weather and any growth on the buoy can make deciphering these marks a bit tricky but again, prior planning will help.”

    A buoy which sun lits from behind is very difficult and especially if You have a deficit in colour vision. I wonder who it was with this brilliant idea to pick up red & green of all colours? How about some neon?

    Old baskets were clearer to differentiate.

    What kind of cairns do the Caribbeans have?

  6. Thank you mike for your blog I really enjoy reading these blogs along with the fun hiking ones too.

  7. Just saw Grenada win its first Olympic medal with a gold in the mens 400 meter.
    Has the party begun?

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