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Aids to Navigation
Waterway Marking System

Sometimes people get confused between Navigation Rules and Aids to Navigation (ATONS). ATONS are the waterway marking system similar to highway signs. Navigation rules, or “Rules of the Road,” are rules for boating traffic, similar to highway traffic laws for motor vehicles.

Best Practices

Read BoatBeat’s General Best Practices, in addition to the following tips, for more recommendation and information. 

  • Education: Encourage all boaters to take a safe boating course and learn about buoys, channel markers, and other waterway navigational aids.
  • Special Rules: Include information about the many special rules for operating along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

Fact Sheets

The Basics: The Rules of the Road

Navigation Rules

Browse All Fact Sheets

Expert Sources

U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Auxiliary & Boating Safety

National Safe Boating Council (NSBC)

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

Browse Federal and State Point-of-Contacts

External Resources

U.S. Aids to Navigation System