Navigational Aids

Rideau Canal National Historic Site

Aids to navigation are devices designed to help boaters identify the navigation channels and determine their position and course. They also mark the location of hazards and obstructions. They should be used in conjunction with other data (charts, landmarks, Notices to Mariners and other available marine publications) when boating. Historic canal navigation aids conform to the Canadian Aids to Navigation System.


Speed Limits

Speed limit signs
Speed zone boundary marker and speed limit signs

Several speed limit zones have been established along the navigation channels of the Rideau Canal, in an effort to protect the environment, shoreline property owners, and the safety of all boaters. All zones are posted with signs and regulated under the Boating Restriction Regulations, part of the Canada Shipping Act. Where posted, the speed limit is often 10 km/hr (6 mph)

Speed limit signs

There are two types of sign: boundary markers and speed limits. Both types of signs are either posted on the shoreline, on structures, or are attached to floating white buoys adjacent to the navigation channel.

  • Boundary markers (circles with arrow) identify the beginning and end of a speed zone
  • Speed limit signs (circles) remind boaters to obey the speed limit while they are in the zone
Enforcement

Police officers patrol speed limit zones and may charge boaters found exceeding the speed limit. See a list of potential fines


No Wake zones

No wake symbol

Boat wake and wash is a major problem along the Rideau Canal. Damage to private property, the natural environment and other vessels continues to occur.

As a boat operator, you should be aware of the speeds at which your boat produces a maximum and minimum wake.

When travelling through a ‘no wake’ zone, or cruising close to shore, in narrow channels, near other boats, swimmers or docks, operate as close to dead slow as possible while maintaining control of your vessel.

Enforcement

Police officers patrol no wake zones and may charge boaters who fail to control wake resulting in danger to the safety of persons or property.


Daybeacons and buoys

Most of the navigation aids marking the main channels of the Rideau Canal consist of fixed daybeacons and anchored floating lateral buoys. Although there are some lighted aids, they do not operate on a 24-hour basis, and are not maintained as night navigation systems. Mariners should note that these aids are not under continuous observation so light failures and out of place buoys do occur. Parks Canada staff appreciate receiving reports of any lights out of operation or buoys off position.

 

Port Daybeacon
  • Square, with a black square centre on a white background, and a green reflective border
  • Used at lockstations, bridge piers and as a channel marker on shorelines to indicate the port (left) side of the channel when proceeding upstream
Starboard Daybeacon
  • Triangular, with a red triangular centre on a white background, and a red reflective border
  • Used at lock stations, bridge piers and as a channel marker on shorelines to indicate the starboard (right) side of the channel when proceeding upstream

Bifurcation or Junction Daybeacons

Bifurcation or Junction Daybeacons mark a point where a channel divides and may be passed on either side. These daybeacons provide directional assistance when navigating across long reaches (e. g. Rideau Lakes), or at junctions where the main channel may not be clearly defined.

 

Port bifurcation daybeacon
  • Green reflective square on a white diamond with a red border
  • Indicates that the preferred route is to the right.
Starboard bifurcation daybeacon
  • Red reflective triangle on a white diamond, with a red border
  • Indicates the preferred route is to the left which is often the case when proceeding upstream.

Lateral Buoys

Both starboard and port bouys

Lateral buoys mark the port and starboard sides of channels as well as locations of dangers.

Port Hand Buoys are green-coloured with a flat top. They mark the port (left) side of a channel or the location of a danger. They should appear on your port side when travelling upstream.

Starboard hand buoys are red-coloured with a pointed top. They mark the starboard (right) side of a channel or the location of a danger. They should appear on your starboard side when travelling upstream.


Bifurcation Buoys

Both starboard and port bouys

Bifurcation buoys, both starboard and port, mark the points where a navigation channel divides. The top colour on the buoy indicates the correct side on which vessels should pass to stay in the preferred or main channel

If the top colour is green: boaters should keep this buoy on their port side if they wish to stay in the main channel while travelling upstream.

If the top colour of the buoy is red: boaters should keep this buoy on their starboard side if they wish to stay in the main channel while travelling upstream.


Both starboard and port bouys

Fairway Buoys

Fairway buoys are coloured red and white in wide vertical stripes and mark a landfall, channel entrance or the centre of a channel. They may be passed on either side but should be kept to port when proceeding in either direction.


Buoyage Reversal

Buoyage reversal on the Rideau Canal

The summit of the Rideau Canal is at Newboro. Water flows downstream to Kingston and Ottawa from here in opposite directions. As a result, the red and green buoys will be on opposite or reverse sides of the channel after you pass through Newboro Lock in either direction.

To avoid confusion, consider the following rule for navigating the Rideau Canal and Trent–Severn Waterway. Red buoys on your right when going upstream.

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