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Special Purpose Buoys: Cautionary, Anchorage, Swimming Area & Mooring

March 3, 2023

The purpose of special buoys is to provide boaters with important information. Unlike most other types of boating buoys and markers, they are not intended to serve primarily as navigation aids.

Cautionary buoys

cautionary buoy

Cautionary buoys mark hazardous areas such as locations of military exercises, underwater structures, race courses, seaplane bases and impassable channels. Cautionary buoys are solid yellow in colour and may be a variety of shapes.

Anchorage buoys

anchorage buoy

Anchorage buoys are used to mark the perimeter of designated areas that are suitable for anchoring a vessel. Anchorage buoys are yellow in colour and display a black anchor symbol on at least two opposing sides. They can be a variety of shapes.

Swimming area buoys

swimming area buoy

Swimming buoys are used to mark the perimeter of a designated swimming area. They are solid white in colour and are usually cylindrical in shape (can buoys).

Mooring buoys

mooring buoys


Mooring buoys are used to secure vessels. They are white, with orange covering the top third of the buoy that’s visible above the water line. They can be a variety of shapes.

Learn the meanings of buoys and markers with Drive a Boat Canada

As a recreational boater, it’s important to be familiar with the meanings of different types of buoys in order to boat safely, obey navigation rules and follow the law.

Learn everything you need to know about buoys and much more by taking a Canadian boating exam, which every recreational vessel operator in the country is required to pass. Take Drive a Boat Canada’s course online to obtain your boating license from the comfort of your home!