Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

A meeting between Coast Guard and harbor users took place during the early afternoon today.

Current buoy types and locations,  limitations on buoy placement due to depth and available equipment, changes to the buoy numbering system, possible change to the entrance light lens color, and one new and different buoy location were among the items freely discussed.

One new idea proposed by the Coast Guard was renumbering in order to conform with typical, progressively numbered designations (right now several buoys have the designation "Alpha" as part of their description, usually meant as a temporary marker).  A significant proposed change would remove buoy 2A from its present location opposite the tripod, with a new nun located further south, near the start of the deep channel.  That relocation would permit the Mobile Bay and its buoy barge to install and maintain a larger sinker and a year-around, ice class buoy.   If this idea proves doable, it might lead to further refinement with a lighted buoy next season.  This new buoy would then be numbered "2," and the buoy designations of the others would be changed accordingly, ascending into the harbor in numerical order, the tripod becoming #3.

A question was posed about changing the color of the tripod light to green from present white, and this brought comments both for and against.  

But, while general consensus on many of the issues may have been reached at the table, for the present the ideas discussed remain only ideas until broader input is obtained, including a response from the command of the cutter Mobile Bay.

Slight position adjustments for the foam buoys beyond the ferry dock received input from the Shipyard's Lou Munao, whose experience reflected what seems most intuitive and useful for recreational boaters.

All ideas advanced today, of course, will be published in Notice to Mariners when they are officially adopted, and presumably they will also be open to public comment.  Meanwhile, the Detroit Harbor waterway survey is still ongoing, and anyone (but especially users of the waterway) can comment on these matters.  My personal impressions were that the Coast Guard representatives we met with today were not only completely open to suggestion, but they also proposed several excellent ideas that had not previously been posed.  Quite informal, this meeting was characterized as one of mutual respect, with interest in making the harbor safe and accessible for users.

 Representing the U. S. Coast Guard were:  two representatives, Two Rivers Aids to Navigation (responsible for foam buoys);  BM1 Ryan Beddes, Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station and Supervisor, Station Washington Island;  Doug Sharp, Marine Information Specialist, Aids to Navigation (Ninth District, Cleveland); and Chief Warrant Officer Jon Grob, ATON Officer (Sector Lake Michigan, Waterways Management).

Local input came from five licensed Washington Island Ferry Line operators, and from three representatives of the Shipyard Island Marina whose customers have experienced difficulty negotiating the buoy system while enroute to the marina location.

- Dick Purinton

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