By Capt. Carl Kelly
Well, you’ve got the RRR rule figured out, Red Right Returning. And, you know that it is not always intuitive whether you are returning or not. You know you need to check the charts.
So, you get on the ICW, the grand old Intracoastal Waterway, some parts of which are lovingly called The Ditch, and you find that RRR doesn’t seem to be working for you. Something’s funky.
That’s because Red Right Returning doesn’t apply to the ICW since the ICW runs along the coast between the passes and RRR covers only passes, places where you are returning from deep water to port or the ICW.
In theory, the Intracoastal Waterway runs along the entire Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the Gulf of Mexico of the US. In the ICW the red markers are kept to the right as you travel clockwise around the US, beginning on the Maine coast and traveling south to Florida, around the peninsula and around the Gulf coast to the southern tip of Texas.
To continue traveling clockwise around the US via the ICW on the Pacific coast begin at southern California with the red on your right and go north.
Another way to think of this rule is that in the ICW the red markers are always closest to land and the green are closest to sea. The navigable channel lies between the markers.