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A floating mark used in the IALA maritime buoyage system to mark a channel, bank, spoil ground, or similar area which the navigator needs to know about. The marking system in force in any particular area is given in the sailing directions for those waters. However, buoys have other uses besides being aids to navigation as they also mark the position of telegraph cables or mining grounds, sewer outfalls, etc. All these can have distinctive shapes and colours, the details of which are marked on navigational charts. There are also strings of radio transmitting buoys worldwide which transmit weather conditions like wind strength and height of waves.

Most buoys, particularly those marking main navigational channels, are lit for navigation at night, each type with its individual characteristic. Cylinders of gas used to be the common method of lighting but most lighted buoys have now been converted to solar power.

See also beacons; dan buoy; mooring; watch buoy.

See also beacons; dan buoy; mooring; watch buoy.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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