Filed Under (Boating Safety) by Debbie on 11-12-2007

The Pacific Northwest endured hurricane force winds along the coast line on December 3, 2007.  Homes were flooded, many lost power and we also lost one of our buoys located just 20 NM off Newport, Oregon.

Thankfully seven days later it was recovered.  Lt. Matthew Hobbie, commanding officer of Station Cape Disappointment, said crabbers spotted what they thought was a life raft Sunday and called in the coordinates to the Coast Guard. A motor lifeboat and crew were dispatched on what they thought was a search and rescue mission, only to discover weather buoy 46050.

The buoy went adrift from its mooring at Stonewall Banks, 20 nautical miles West of Newport early Monday. It reportedly aground last Tuesday (and stopped transmitting data) south of the Columbia River Bar on the Oregon Coast. That’s pretty close to where it was found and towed to Cape “D”, a trip that took nine hours, Hobbie said, as crews fought a strong current.

Lt. Fred Seaton of the Aids to Navigation section of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 13th District in Seattle, said Buoy 46029, which was lost from its mooring at about the same time as 46050 went adrift, was photographed bobbing in the ocean off Hoh Head near Olympic National Park of the North central Washington coast last week.

The buoy, which was deployed April 13, 2005 in 444 feet of water off the Columbia River Bar, was one of two ripped from their seabed moorings at around 11 p.m. Sunday night. Buoy 46089, which sits about 72 miles west of the Columbia River Bar, survived the storm and is still transmitting data.

Buoy 46050 before storm

Buoy 46050 recorded winds of 50 MPH with gusts up to 76 MPH.  The average seas are 40 feet but it recorded a high of 70 feet.  That sure makes a person pause and think about what that might look like in a small 30 foot boat.     Buoy 46050 after the storm

I think the photo shows why it’s so important to pay attention to the weather before departing in your boat.  As skipper we’re responsible for the safety of every life aboard.  I think in winter it’s far easier to pay attention to the weather as we expect storms and problem causing systems.  We would be wise to remember these systems in the summer months as well. 

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