Red, Right, Returning

From US Aids to Navigation, from the US Coast Guard:

You may have heard the phrase, “Red, Right, Returning.” This expression refers to the fact that when returning (entering a channel from the open sea or proceeding upstream), a boater must keep the red Aids on the right (starboard) side of the boat.

Red, Right, Returning. Except when it’s not.

The world has two marine aids to navigation systems, opposite of each other. From Cruising World:

Region A consists of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Africa and most of Asia. When entering a harbor in this region, marks to port are red and marks to starboard are green.

Region B consists of North America, Central America and South America, plus the Philippines, Japan and Korea. When entering a harbor in this region, marks to port are green and marks to starboard are red (red, right, return!).

This seems like something everyone should be taught in elementary school.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on November 25, 2020 - 18:31 Permalink

I was expecting that the difference in the rule would reflect driving on the left or right side of the road, yet it does not.

Claus's picture
Claus on November 26, 2020 - 03:19 Permalink

Interesting. I didn't know about the two systems.

In Germany, we have a similar saying though. If we are on a navigable inland water and we are travelling towards the sea (i.e., "runter"=downwards) then this saying holds: "rot, runter, rechts"

Juliane's picture
Juliane on November 27, 2020 - 11:36 Permalink

Like Claus, I didn't know there were two systems. Interesting!

I learnt this as "raus, rot, rechts" (outwards, red, right) when boating in Germany.