This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coop Chart Project

Mariners around the world depend on accurate charts (maps to you landlubbers) to safely navigate the waters. They depend on the accuracy of these charts to be able to know where navigational aids such as buoys, as well as shoals, reefs and rocks are located or even the depth of the water. When these objects are, on occasion, not accurately displayed on the chart, it can lead to serious accidents or loss of life.

In cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), participating squadrons of the United States Power Squadrons are carefully observing and reporting on important chart details in our nation's waters. 

We are systematically checking on these details to ensure the official NOAA navigation charts are accurate. When we find an exception we submit a report to NOAA with the necessary information, GPS location, weather and water and object conditions and photographs, etc. NOAA then investigates and makes the necessary corrections to the charts. 

For the second year in a row, I, along with several other members of the Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron (BSPS) were asked to check up on several locations around Bellingham. I was assigned the Point Migley buoy off the northwest tip of Lummi Island. The buoy is located on the chart on the right as a red point just off the tip of the land mass on the left. Note the word LUMMI written across the land. 

The question was whether that buoy on the chart is actually where the chart indicates it to be? On 9 August, 2012, we (my wife and I) headed out of Bellingham Bay aboard our 32 foot Bayliner, The Key of Sea, to discover the accuracy of that chart. 

We were actually on our way out to Sucia Island, a Washington Marine State Park (note the chart at the top of this blog) for a squadron rendezvous. Point Migley was on our route so we made the stop to gather the needed data. 

Pt. Migley buoy with Lummi Island in the background.
The wind was near 0 and the current negligible so maneuvering  around the buoy was fairly easy. The important thing was to not get too close. Contact with an object of this weight and size could cause serious damage to our boat not to mention it being illegal and these markers sometimes indicate an underwater hazard quite close to the surface. So we carefully moved in a circle about 20 feet off the buoy, took our readings and made our observations. 

Aside from a lot of bird droppings covering parts of the top of the array making it appear more white in places than red, the buoy looked to be in good condition. We jotted down our findings and headed on our way toward our ultimate destination.

All seemed well to us. The buoy hadn't moved from its assigned station so I won't be able to take any credit for a change on the next NOAA charts. That, for the record, is a good thing!