Buoy with solar panels and LED light
Green Can #11
Green can #11 near the mouth of the Saugatuck River (IALA region B).
Green Can #11 on Map
Green Can #11 on a nautical chart
NOAA Weather buoy

A buoy (/ˈbɔɪ, b.i/; boy, BOO-ee)[1][2] is a floating device that can have many purposes. It can be anchored (stationary) or allowed to drift with ocean currents.


The ultimate origin of buoys is unknown, but by 1295 a seaman's manual referred to navigation buoys in the Guadalquivir River.[3] To the north there are early medieval mentions of the River Maas being buoyed.[4] the early buoys were probably just timber beams or rafts, but in 1358 there is a record of a barrel buoy in the Maasmond (also known as the Maas Sluis or Maasgat).[4] The simple barrel was difficult to secure to the seabed, and to a conical tonne was developed. They had a solid plug at the narrow end through which a mooring ring could be attached.[5] By 1790 the older conical tonne was being replaced by a nun buoy. This had the same conical section below the waterline as the tonne buoy, but at the waterline a barrel shape was used to allow a truncated cone to be above the water. The whole was completed with a top mark.[6] In the nineteenth century iron buoys became available. They had watertight internal bulkheads and as well as topmarks and might have bells (1860) or whistles (1880).[7] In 1879 Julius Pintsch obtained a patent for the illumination of buoys by using a compressed gas.[8] This was superseded from 1912 onwards by Gustaf Dalén's acetylene lamp. this could be set to flash which ensured that buoys could be distinguished from ships' lights and from each other. A later development was the sun valve which shut off the gas during sunlight.[9]


Navigational buoys

Marker buoys

Buoys are often used to temporarily or permanently mark the positions of underwater objects:


Several types of marker buoys may be used by divers:





Specific forms


buoy with letter box in Töre[20]


Other uses


See also


  1. ^ "buoy". Dictionary.com Unabridged (Online). n.d.
  2. ^ "buoy". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins.
  3. ^ Naish, John (1985). Seamarks, their history and development. London: Stanford Maritime. p. 51. ISBN 0-540-07309-1.
  4. ^ a b Naish 1985, p. 51.
  5. ^ Naish 1985, p. 52.
  6. ^ Naish 1985, illustrations pages 53 and 57.
  7. ^ Naish 1985, p. 59.
  8. ^ Naish 1985, pp. 59–60.
  9. ^ Naish 1985, pp. 65–66.
  10. ^ "Emergency Wreck Buoys | Navigation Buoys | Trinity House". Archived from the original on 2014-07-02. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
  11. ^ "Large Navigational Buoys (LNB)". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved Jul 6, 2015.
  12. ^ a b National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2013). US Chart No. 1. Silver Spring: NOAA. p. 89.
  13. ^ Cobb, John N., "The Lobster Fishery of Maine", Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission, Vol. 19, Pages 241–265, 1899; from Project Gutenberg
  14. ^ Taft, Hank; Taft, Jan, A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast and the Maine Coast Guides for Small Boats, Peaks Island, Maine : Diamond Pass Publishing, 5th Edition, 2009. Cf. Chapter: "BUOY, OH BUOY" Archived 2008-11-18 at the Wayback Machine, and Chapter: "Fisherman, Lobsterboats, and Working Harbors" Archived 2012-03-20 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Davies, D (1998). "Diver location devices". Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society. 28 (3). Archived from the original on 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2013-04-16.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ [METOCEAN. (2008). METOCEAN SLDMB: Operating & Maintenance Manual (Version 3.0 ed.) Retrieved from http://www.metocean.com.
  17. ^ [Bang, I., Mooers, C. N. K., Haus, B., Turner, C., Lewandowski, M. (2007). Technical Report: Surface Drifter Advection and Dispersion in the Florida Current Between Key West and Jacksonville, Florida. Technical Report.].
  18. ^ Kery, SM (1989). "Diving in support of buoy engineering: The RTEAM project". In: Lang, MA; Jaap, WC (Ed). Diving for Science…1989. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Annual Scientific Diving Symposium 28 September – 1 October 1989 Wood Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved 2013-04-16.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  19. ^ IALA (2008). "International Dictionary of Marine Aids to Navigation – ODAS buoy". Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  20. ^ RCC Pilotage Foundation: Baltic Sea and Approaches. Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd, 2019, p. 241, ISBN 9781846238925.
  21. ^ Die Postboje, www.steinhude-am-meer.de.
  22. ^ "Pranks: Some old, some new". USS RICH. USS RICH Association.
  23. ^ "buoy". Oxford English Dictionary. Vol. II (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. p. 661. verb, sense 3.
  24. ^ "Buoy System Harnesses Wave Energy". ABC News. Retrieved 2023-09-25.
  25. ^ George Stephen, Company Founder and Inventor of the Weber Kettle Grill Archived June 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine