All Boaters Must Know This! ~ How To Navigate the ICW | Boating 101 Navigation Tutorial

Published 2022-01-22
In today's video, Captain Mike breaks down markers of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW runs down the eastern seaboard of the United States parallel to the Atlantic and Gulf. It offers protection that the open ocean does not and makes a great cruise for boaters. By knowing the meaning of the markers and shapes, you will be able to travel safely through a channel.

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Illustrations & More Info from the USCG:

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All Comments (21)
  • @SFROutdoors
    In the ICW instead of trying to remember North-Green-Starboard (which is actually false on the west coast of FL) and a lot to remember even for me, I just remember that the red triangles always are on the mainland side of the channel. Red is dark and looks like sand/clay so it reminds me that red represents the mainland side of the channel and I should stay on the ocean side of that marker in the ICW. Green is a lighter color and the color of ocean up here in stuart sometimes so that represents the ocean side of the channel and I should be staying on the mainland side of that marker.
  • @steves7873
    Traveling north the square green markers will be on your starboard side. It would be worth mentioning that the red triangle markers will always be on the land side of the ICW. Great video as always.
  • I built almost all of the channel markers during 2005-2009 while in the US Coast Guard.
  • @frankenjoe07
    Great video Mike- Here are some other tips- The Numbers on the markers indicate how close you are to open water. The lower the number, the nearer the open water is. So, for instance, if the first marker buoy that you encounter has a 44 on it, you should see numbers decreasing until you enter open water.- The green marker buoys should always have odd numbers on them and the red ones should have even numbers on them. These three factors – color, shape, and number – will tell you everything you need to know about navigating through a channel out to open sea and back again.
  • @leerussel2033
    Thanks I recently moved to Merritt Island, FL. I knew the Red, Right, Return and understood what it means. When I would go up and down it Intercoastal I was always a little unsure as to what side the Red was supposed to be on. Great job pointing that out.👍
  • @OldPapaBear
    Great video for traveling the ICW. Clear explanation and easy to understand.
  • Great video, wish there's more informational videos for beginner boater like myself. Thank You!!
  • You can also remember “ green ocean”. For no matter where you are in the intercostal waters going north or south the green maker is always on the ocean (Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico ) side of the boat. So now you have “red and green stay between “ , .”red right return” for entering and leaving a harbor and now “ green ocean” for traveling the intercostal water ways
  • @cpramberg
    NB ICW, sq day marker on the strbd side. Thank you, Mike, for this important message.

    A few years ago my family moved a boat down from NY to FL. The captain explained all this and a few times when I was navigating he would ask me, “is that our marker?” Sometimes it was yes, sometimes no. He was teaching me how easy it is to confuse the actual ICW when you get to crossing channels, using nav-aids and missing those little markers and how dangerous it can be to enter a non-ICW side channel thinking you’re in the ICW and you’re not and now outside the channel in a boat that drafts 5-ft. It woke me up quick.
  • Awesome video brother. I remember riding with my Buddy and running into shallow water getting stuck, luckily I jumped out and wiggled the boat loose and back to the deeper water. It was a lesson learned once we got back to the Boston dock.
  • Great video! Thanks for the info. I just found your channel so, I'm sure I'm late for the contest but I wanted to answer anyway. Heading North the channel marker should be on the starboard side to keep you inside the channel so you don't run-aground or tear up the grass.
  • @Inkedup128
    square goes on starboard side when heading north, which means according to your video when out in open water the square is always the furthest shape from land while the triangle is the closest which would by port side for your question.

    glad you made this video cuz i am in process of searching to buy my first boat and did not know how to navigate the markers. but i do now, thanks capt. keep up the how to and other vids
  • That was helpful and something new to learn . Going north from Miami keep the green on the right. Going South green on the left. Go, Green, Left / Red, Right, Return for most situations- Thank you
  • @jdiez6830
    Great information Mike, Thanks,
    Hooks regulation is a very important topic no body talks about, could be interesting some info about hook regulations in the south east area.
  • Me and spouse are learning, thank you for taking time to make these videos.
  • @jimmydamico50
    Heading north, the square/green channel marker should be on your starboard (right) side. My understanding is that the triangle/red marker is always on the inland (Continental US) side.

    Before I began spending my winters in Miami 4yrs ago, I never knew this. Thanks to the Intracoastal waterway, I sure as hell do now!

    Thanks for always further educating us Capt. Mike 👍
  • @reellove6710
    Hey Capt Mike. Nice video! Channel marker 15 with a yellow square (ICW Marker) located just S. of Broad Causeway. Because you are proceeding N. (towards NJ) in the ICW (yellow square on marker) you are "leaving" port. A Green buoy is to port when returning and to starboard when leaving. Marker 15 should be on your starboard as you pass.

    Although not in your video, it would be just about here where you would radio the bridge tender (Channel 9) to request the next scheduled opening of the drawbridge if your vessel is too tall.
  • @sg15
    Traveling north, square marker to starboard. Triangles to port. I know this now thanks to this video, and have more confidence to navigate the ICW. Thanks
  • @SFROutdoors
    Knew all of this before but came for the excellent ReelReports camera work and B-Roll as always. Beautiful day on the water, decent job on the video.
  • @berndog3
    Generally good information, however, you should remember that on the Intracoastal waterway (ICW), the boater follows the yellow color markers — not the color (red or green) of the channel marker. There are channel markers and then there are ICW channel markers. ICW channel markers always have a yellow rectangle or square, and in the event two markers offer conflicting directions, the yellow colors supersede the colors of the actual red or green marker on which they appear.