Colors, Shapes and Navigation

Just saw a TV report on red/green color blind concerns during the recent NY Jets vs Buffalo Bills football game. So how does this relate to navigation?

The uniform colors were solid, no white jerseys. NY was all Green, jersey and pants. Buffalo was all Red, jersey and pants.

Aside from the quarterback having difficulty telling the difference between his receiver and his defender- both twenty, thirty or forty yards downfield- the TV audience had problems seeing the difference too! Why? Because many of us are color blind and may not even know it. According to the National Eye Institute possibly 8% of our male population have difficulty telling the difference between red and green.

Fast forward to boaters and aids to navigation or ATONS. This red/green confusion is the exact reason our RED ATONS are even numbered TRIANGLEs and GREEN ATONS are odd numbers SQUAREs.

The sunshine reflecting off the water drills into your eyes and causes fatigue in addition to just plain makes things difficult to see. If you are at least able to spot the piling and day board of an ATON you may not see the color. Because of sun glare or shading in the late evening you can always see the shape, SQUARE or TRIANGLE.


1. On the highway in the U.S. what color and signal is an OCTAGONAL sign?

2. How about the color and signal of an upside down TRIANGLE?

(Don’t Cheat!!)


1. RED and it is a STOP sign. Two points for you!

2. If you said YELLOW YIELD sign…….uh-oh….look again. The YIELD sign color changed to Red and White in 1972.


Learn your shapes because colors are not always visible in all types of weather. And if you have a question about navigation, just Ask Captain Chris! Check out our latest Navigation Made Easy Video seminar on Vimeo. Rent or own and learn about Navigation.