Put-in-Bay Maritime Academy (Part 2)

By Paul Bolden, Flotilla Vice-Commander for the Auxiliary Unit at Coast Guard Station Marblehead


First, I have a special thanks to Coast Guard Auxiliarist Phil Steinle for his clarification for question 1 of last month’s quiz which was appreciated.

This is part 2 of our PIB Maritime Academy. During our second off-season mariner class we are going to focus on “ Aids to Navigation” (Atons) encountered in and around South Bass Island. This is not a complete list of aids, rather common ones seen in the waters around the island. No cheating.




1) To the right is a picture of the PIB lighthouse. What is the aid to navigation (aton) on top of the lighthouse? ANSW______________________________




2) To the right is Gibraltar. Between Gibraltar and Oak Point is a string of regulatory markers. What does the diamond mean? ANSW_______________________________




3) While not exactly an aton. This picture of the Boardwalk shows several dozen floating balls. What are they called? What purpose do they serve? ANSW________________________________





4) When entering PIB harbor there is a row of red atons. What are they called and what are their purpose? ANSW_____________________________




5) This picture is an aton located between Ballast Island and Buckeye Island (Buckeye Point). What is it called and what is its purpose?

ANSW _______________________________




6) Pictured is Pebble Beach at the State Park. About 30 feet off its shore is a line of regulatory markers. What does the diamond and cross mean? ANSW_______________________________




7) This is a picture of the buoy located near Gibraltar. What is it called and what is its purpose? ANSW_________________________________





8) I spotted this aton near Schoolhouse Bay at Middle Bass. What is its purpose? ANSW _________________________



1) Non-lateral dayboard. The sole purpose of these diamond shaped day-boards is to help the vessel operator determine his/her location.

2) Regulatory Marker. Hazard to boaters. The buoy indicates a hazard such as Rock, Stump, Shallow Area, Reef, Shoal, etc.

3) Not exactly an aton. These are mooring buoys used for tying up vessels.

4) This lateral aid is called a “NUN” because of its shape and its red. They mark the channel on the right or the starboard side when returning to sea.

5) This lateral aid is called a “CAN” because of its shape and its green. They mark the channel on the right or the starboard side when going out to sea.

6) This regulatory marker with a diamond shape and cross means boats must keep out indicating Swim Area, Beach, Keep Out, No Boats, Closed Area, etc.

7) The Stone Lab Data Buoy is used to confer weather and sea conditions online.

8) Diver Down Flag. It means what it says…a diver is actively underwater. Your vessel must maintain a distance of 300 feet. How did you do?


If you got these all right, then you should be writing this article. Missed 1, then you get honorable mentions. Missed 2 or 3, pick up a copy of “Aids to Navigation” its time to brush up. Missed 4 or more…scary.


Again, this was not intended to cover every aton, rather to test your awareness of some of the most common Aids to Navigation around PIB. In our often crowded and relatively shallow waters it is important to understand what these aids mean. These are not water decorations, they are there for a very important reason and can save your life or the life of someone else. If you didn’t recognize most of these, that should serve as a clue that you need further education. That education is available everywhere from books, online study and courses taught by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. You just have to be willing.



For information about serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Contact the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary at 419-379-9000.
Paul Bolden is the Division Vice-Commander for the 9th Coast Guard District, Central Region, Division 16 and is a seasonal resident of PIB.


As Seen in the January 2019 edition of the Put-in-Bay Gazette