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What Is a Control Marker? Everything You Need to Know!

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

what is a control marker

Safety should always be our priority when it comes to boating, and water markers help keep us safe by giving us assistance when it comes to navigation and information. However, it can be difficult to remember all of them, which leads to people having to ask questions such as “what is a control marker?”

In this article, we’ll talk about control markers and a few other important informational markers that we can find while out on the water. We’ll cover the essential information about these markers, so be sure to keep reading.

The Control Marker


The control marker is a type of non-lateral marker that gives us important information about the area where the marker is found. Specifically, control markers or control buoys inform us of specific restrictions imposed in a certain area of the water.


First, we need to be able to identify the control marker, but what does a control marker look like? Informational markers can take different forms as they can be buoys that look like cans, or floats that look like miniature towers. Whatever form they do take, they always have a solid white body and horizontal orange bands at the top and bottom.

Between the orange bands, the control marker buoy has an orange circle. This orange circle is what differentiates the control marker from other types of informational markers, all of which look similar to one another.


As mentioned earlier, the boating control marker serves to inform us of restrictions in certain areas. On them, we will find printed words as we do on other informational markers. We will usually find the printed words inside the orange circle, sometimes just one or two words.

A common example would be the words “slow no wake.” This means that boats in the area need to slow down as it is prohibited to go fast enough that the boat would produce a wake. Control markers may also indicate speed limit or activity restrictions.

Other Informational Markers


There are times when we find different kinds of markers during a single boating trip. In order to not wonder which of the following is a control marker, it helps to know these other types of markers as well. Here, we will focus on three other markers since these three look most similar to the control marker.

These markers or non-lateral markers all have a white body. In order to differentiate between such informational buoys and a control buoy identify the orange markings on its body.

1. Information Marker

This marker has an orange square marking on its solid white body along with the same top and bottom horizontal orange bands. This marker serves to inform us of important information or even directions for certain important locations (for example, where to get food).

2. Hazard Marker

This marker has an orange diamond mark on its white body. It serves to inform us of dangers in the area of the water where it is located. The type of danger is printed on the marker, usually inside the diamond itself.

A hazard marker with the word “rocks” printed on it means there may be rocks that can damage boats that enter the area. These markers may also warn against potential dangers underwater.

3. Keep-Out Marker

The keep-out marker looks very similar to the hazard marker. The key difference is that in addition to the orange diamond marking, there is also an orange cross inside the diamond mark. Seeing this marker means that an area is off-limits to boats.

Keep-out markers can also have words printed above or below the diamond marking. These words usually offer information about the area. A keep-out marker with the words “swim area” means boats are not allowed because the area is intended for swimming.


There are many water markers, and they are all important to know for boaters. While informational markers are just a small portion of everything we need to know, they are still a good start. Now you won’t have to scratch your head asking “what is a control marker?”

If you know anyone else wondering about control markers and informational markers, don’t hesitate to share this with them. Please leave your comments and suggestions below.

Remember to boat safely.

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