In our modern era, traditional nautical charts have been replaced by applications for their user-friendly features.

Essentially, we now have a dynamic nautical chart that displays our current position, heading, and (hopefully) familiar markers for safe navigation.

Entering and exiting ports and channels

The "gateway" to ports, as well as narrow passages, is defined by pairs of green buoys and red buoys, marking the safe passage for vessels while avoiding shallow areas.

When entering a harbor, the red buoy is on the port side,
and the green buoy is on the starboard side.

Consequently, when leaving the harbor, the green buoy will be on the port side, and the red buoy on the starboard side.

The same marking system is applied to channels.

For instance, departing from Lefkada marina and heading south towards Meganisi, you will encounter a row of green buoys to your left and red buoys to your right, in the narrow channel leading to open waters.

Wrecks and rocks

Navigating the open waters requires a sharp awareness of potential hazards beneath the surface, specifically wrecks and rocks.

✲ Wrecks

Shipwrecks, whether visible or submerged, pose a significant threat to vessels.

On nautical charts, wrecks are marked by a dotted line, outlining the submerged structure and indicating the depth to its highest point.

Mariners must exercise caution around these areas to prevent collisions, which can result in severe damage to the vessel.

Recognizing wreck symbols on charts and maintaining a safe distance are essential for safe navigation.

Partially exposed wrecks demand extra attention, especially during low tides, to avoid accidents.

✲ Rocks

Rocks in the water are marked on nautical charts by depth contours.

Darker blue areas indicate shallower waters, where rocks may be present.

Disregarding these markers can lead to grounding and potential hull damage.

Even in open waters, unexpected rocks may lurk beneath the surface, requiring a vigilant and informed approach to navigation.

To enhance safety, sailors should stay updated on charts, use electronic navigation aids, and keep a constant lookout for changes in underwater features.

Combining traditional chart-reading skills with modern technology allows mariners to navigate confidently, minimizing the risks associated with wrecks and rocks in the expansive maritime environment.

Night navigation

Navigating the open sea at night demands careful attention and adherence to specific guidelines to ensure a safe and secure journey.

Sailing in the dark, especially in the case of a "man overboard" situation, poses a significantly greater challenge for effective rescue efforts compared to daylight hours.

So, if possible, plan to be in port before nightfall.

Only undertake night navigation when you feel confident and experienced.

Lighting on Vessels

All vessels are required to display prominent navigation lights at night. Learn to interpret these lights to identify the type of vessel and its direction.

Red lights indicate the port side.
Green lights indicate the starboard side.
✲  White  lights may signify a motor vessel approaching (if accompanied by red and green lights) or a vessel moving away (if white light alone).

Personal Lights

Ensure your own boat is well-lit and visible to others. Use the appropriate navigation lights and consider additional lighting for increased visibility.

Anchorage Lights

Keep a bright white light on the mast, visible from all sides, indicating that your vessel is at anchor. This light should be displayed throughout the night, aiding in the visibility of your boat to other passing vessels.

Danger Marks at Night

Be vigilant for flashing yellow lights, indicating isolated danger marks. These could signal a new wreck or other hazards. Familiarize yourself with the specific flashing patterns associated with each direction.


Lighthouses are encountered either at the entrance of ports or in remote areas.

lighthouseLighthouses convey a dual message:
✲ Come this way, or
✲ Danger, steer clear.

Another crucial aspect of lighthouses is the unique frequency of their (colored) flashes. Observing the pattern of flashes, and with the aid of your nautical chart, you can confirm not only the identity of the lighthouse but also pinpoint your exact position and heading. (Provide an example here.)


By understanding these key elements, sailors can navigate effectively, utilizing both traditional knowledge and modern technology for a safer and more enjoyable journey on the open seas.