Page last updated at 11:35 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 12:35 UK

Water buoys not to be trusted

Navagational buoys at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast

Three navigational buoys that received a facelift recently at the hand of Belfast City Council have been the subject of chuckles among some sea-farers.

It seems the buoys, which are situated beside St Anne's Cathedral, were painted the wrong colour.

Gifted to the city by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the buoys are more than 50 years old and are supposed to be painted in the colours of the pre 1979 Lateral System Buoyage.

Belfast Harbourmaster Captain Kevin Allen said someone, somewhere had gotten the colours wrong.

"The round buoy, which should be indicative of a safe water mark, should be painted red and white," he said.

"The other is a conical shaped buoy, which by modern conventions should be painted green.

"And you would expect the can-shaped buoy to be painted red."

Navagational buoys at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast
The buoys were a gift to Belfast from the Commissioners of Irish Lights

During the facelift, the round-shaped buoy kept its red and white colours, the conical one was painted a deeper shade of blue and the flat-toped can-shaped buoy went from red to a pale blue.

And where the blue colour scheme came from nobody is quite sure.

Robert McCabe from the Commissioners of Irish Lights said the colour of a buoy was very important.

"Buoys provide navigational information to mariners and they do so by their shape, their colour, their light characteristics and their top mark," he said.

"All those elements have to be correct to allow the mariner to make sound navigational decisions."

Mr McCabe also questioned whether the previous colours of the buoys was the correct colour of 50 years.

"The chances are the conical buoy was black. Black is a very visible colour against a sea or a sky," he said.

"I think sailors would have a little chuckle if they saw a blue buoy.

"And they'll say 'Thank God it's on the land and not out at sea'."

Belfast City Council have put the colour mix-up down to a "miscommunication" and a "simple mistake".

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