Wave-watching buoy goes adrift

Jun 1, 2021

This wave height measuring buoy came loose from its mooring and is offline until a replacement can be positioned.
Credit Alaska Ocean Observing System

A well-used aid to navigation will be off-line for an undetermined amount of time after the buoy came loose from its anchor and drifted ashore below the Homer Bluff.
    “These buoys do get cut loose or they break from their mooring or they get moved somehow,” said Carol Janzen, the operations and development director for the Alaska Ocean Observing System in Anchorage. “And right now we don't know how this particular deployment got displaced. We don't know what caused that yet. We're still assessing the situation.”
    The agency works closely with many other organizations to provide real-time environmental data for a variety of user groups, including fishermen who check the lost buoy for wave height information in outer Kachemak Bay.
    “This program deploys wave buoys all around the country. And typically in addition to the national data buoy center buoys that are further offshore, these are more near shore and coastal environments and harbors to help with safe maritime navigation, et cetera,” Janzen said. “And AOOS has partnered with that program to deploy multiple buoys in Alaska. We currently manage three in our region and the Lower Cook Inlet buoy is the one that's been in the water the longest. So I think that buoy went in, in 2013. Originally it was deployed a little further offshore, but it kept hopping off its mooring because of the very strong currents in that area. So it was moved further in shore and we've had more success at keeping it on its mooring at that location.”
    Until Wednesday morning, that is, when its signal went offline. That’s when A-O-O-S sent salvagers to retrieve it.
    “Yes, so we were able to recover the buoy. It actually went to drift. We sent out Zach Bennett with C-and-C Salvage out of Homer to help us retrieve it. And, there were very strong tides yesterday and some wind and that buoy washed itself up on shore before they could get to it,” Janzen said. “So they had to wait for low tide and at the low tide they drove out there and picked it up for us.”
    The buoy is small, about 48-inches in diameter, and sits low in the water. Janzen says its shell was damaged, and it is being shipped to the Lower 48 for inspection. In the meantime, a replacement will be returned.