In Red Right Returning, Richard Tobias worked from a memory of a sailing journey with two good friends. Their path had explored the historic locks and shipping system on rivers in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.
We think a river is a line but it is easy to get lost. Red Right Returning is how we remember the navigation system, the way to locate depth and direction on most inland waterways. The Coast Guard’s first priority is to maintain the system of buoys. They mark the safest and shortest distance. The red buoys and red day markers are on your right when you are returning to land from the sea. Thus, going upstream, red buoys are on your right (starboard side), and green buoys are on your left (port side)... just the opposite coming downstream.