The illustration on the right shows a typical channel situation.
When you come in to a channel from open sea, the red buoys are on the right (Red Right Return) and the green cans are on the left.
Between the two is a two-lane highway that boats use. Why? To keep them from running into a rock or a shallow area. The channel is a safe passage area with deep water. Just like a highway, boats coming in from sea travel to the right side of the channel and keep the red buoys to their right, and boats leaving (going to sea) stay to their right side and keep green markers to their right. A large tug and barge may have to use the center of the channel. This channel or highway on the water, is where you want to stay out of - it’s meant for boats that need it.
Paddlers have no rights on the water! Since paddlers have full maneuverability and no real depth concerns, paddlers need to stay clear of boats and ultimately out of channels as much as they possibly can.
Purchase a chart of the area you intend to paddle. Plan a route and note all channels and other obstacles. Take the time to learn the rules of navigation. It will go a long way towards fostering good relations with the boating community.
Content last updated December 2019