(1) On the
navigable waters of Washington state, marking to assist navigation is
accomplished by a lateral system of buoyage for use with nautical charts. The
lateral system is used by the United States Coast Guard in the marking of
navigable waters of the United States as determined by the United States Coast
Guard Commandant. The lateral system may be also used by the state and
subdivisions thereof for private aids to navigation only when all applicable
permits for private aids to navigation have been approved by the United States
Coast Guard and other federal, state, or local authorities.
(2) The USATONS has been developed to provide
a system of visual, audible, and electronic signals which are designed to
assist the prudent mariner in the process of navigation. They have been
established to provide a means to convey to the recreational vessel operator
adequate guidance to indicate safe boating channels by indicating the presence
of either natural or artificial obstructions or hazards, marking restricted or
controlled areas, and providing directions. The USATONS is suited to use on all
waters of Washington state and is designed to satisfy the needs of all types of
(3) The U.S.
Aids to Navigation System is primarily a lateral system which employs a simple
arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers, and light characteristics to mark the
limits of navigable routes. This lateral system is supplemented by nonlateral
aids to navigation where appropriate.
(4) Generally, lateral aids to navigation
indicate on which side of a vessel an aid to navigation should be passed when
the vessel is proceeding in the conventional direction of buoyage. Normally,
the conventional direction of buoyage is the direction in which a vessel enters
navigable channels from seaward and proceeds towards the head of navigation. In
the absence of a route leading from seaward, the conventional direction of
buoyage generally follows a clockwise direction around land masses.
(5) Although aids to navigation are
maintained to a reasonable degree of reliability, the rigors of the marine
environment and various equipment failures do cause discrepancies on