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Why aren't the waypoints on the actual buoys on the lake?

For the same reason that a you don't have your name taped to your forehead. The waypoints on the charts give the buoys individualism and uniqueness, but they're not obvious when "meeting" that certain buoy on the lake. Number #429, below, for example, has the location on Lake Winnipesaukee, and it's a black-top (cardinal) buoy. You don't need to know all those things, but they are part of the information on a table of buoys under buoy number #429. The buoy has moved slightly in the chart so as not to crowd the other buoys. The Marine Patrol has the table that lists the buoys.

The buoy number #429 does not "wear" a number #429.

The one exception to this is the numbered buoys, which have the waypoints right on their spars. For example, #53 and #42 are the numbered buoys in the illustration below. #425 and #200 are their partners. Go around both of them, as in the illustration.

For more on the buoy numbering system, see Buoys and their numbers.

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Charting the New Hampshire Lakes Since 1967®
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Last modified 1 November 2017