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USCG proposes removal of approach buoys

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  • USCG proposes removal of approach buoys

    The U.S. Coast Guard is proposing to discontinue San Francisco South Traffic Lane Lighted Bell Buoy, San Francisco North Traffic Lane Lighted Bell Buoy, and San Francisco West Traffic Lane Lighted Gong Buoy W (LLNR 345, 375 and 350). Direct any questions, comments, or feedback no later than May 29th, 2013 to LT Melissa Smith at 510-437-5984 or

    One of my crew found this and called Melissa and reports:

    Just talked to Lt. Melissa Smith and she confirmed they're considering removing those buoys. Issue is whether, given electronic navigation etc. these days, they're still critical for marine safety (vs. the cost of keeping them there, I suppose). Said that best way to provide input is to email her with argument for why they are critical for safety.

    Here is a link to the Notice to Mariners

    scroll down and click on the latest notice, 21 May 2013

    As of now the SF approach buoy (Lightship) and ship channel are not on the table.

  • #2
    email sent!


    • #3
      To be honest, I can't see how they're critical for safety. But it sure would put a crimp in OYRA race courses if they were gone.


      • #4
        Yeah, I was trying to spin up an argument that didn't include "we need them for race marks." Dumb question (my chartplotters are on the boat) - do the traffic separation schemes show on our GPS's? If not, the fact that those buoys DO show would help us stay out of those lanes (which technically we're supposed to do).


        • #5
          I would have to agree with Bob and Max, the approach buoys are not safety-related buoys; more the opposite, in fact, as they are yet another hunk of metal out there to hit - at least the buoys are well marked on charts so you can avoid them. Given the choice I'd prefer a light on middle Farallones as opposed to shipping lane center marks out in the middle of the ocean.

          Removing the buoys would present an interesting situtaion for the OYRA races, as suddenly some important race marks are removed. Perhaps use NOAA weather buoy 26 as a racing mark? Over the years I've almost hit that a couple of times (nowhere near as visible as the navigation buoys are). Or shift over to virtual marks (lat/lon locations) and submit a race track afterwards? definltely not as rewarding as actually rounding a physical object.

          - rob/beetle


          • #6
            Yes, we are going to have to get more creative this year. 46026 is on the list as a potential alternative. We just don't want to go back to having multiple lightship races since that gets boring.

            We also have to deal with basically staying off the city front from July 4 through September 22 to avoid the AC madness. Hopefully we won't have to get as creative as SSS last Saturday (good job by the way) and we are trying to have multiple options in our bag of tricks. Think CYC or a start/finish line off TI with Little Harding left to the south both ways?

            Other suggestions welcome.


            • #7
              CYC can be iffy wind-wise. During last year's ACWS, we started our SSS Half Moon Bay race from the breakwater at Horseshoe Bay (near the Presidio Yacht Club). It would have been better with a pin and that can be a tough place to set a mark, but since it's just the start you can be pretty creative. SSS is a bit more laid back though.


              • #8
                Do we need a few more islands? This is a problem to our course structure. How does one call for room at a virtual mark?


                • #9
                  It may not be a done deal after all. I reached out to Lt Melissa Smith at USCG for an update and got this:


                  We are awaiting further detailed guidance from Headquarters on the matter regarding those particular buoys. We did receive a lot of feedback so we are waiting to see what new CG policy dictates. I don't believe they will be removed in the near future, and before they are considered again another round of outreach will be conducted. There will be plenty of notice IF these buoys get discontinued.


                  LT Melissa Smith
                  D11 Waterways

                  I'm not sure if 'near future' means months or years, but I suspect the latter.


                  • #10
                    Yay! the Shitpipe race lives!


                    • #11
                      Not so fast. The shitpipe buoys are private, not NOAA or USCG and may be gone by winter - from the LNM

                      The City of San Francisco in partnership with Kinnetic Laboratories Inc, has deployed two yellow research buoys 4NM off Thornton State Beach, San Francisco in positions 37-42-29N 122-34-59W, and 37-41-58N 122-34-33W. The buoys will be removed Nov 2013. Each buoy stands 8 feet out of the water with radar reflectors and strobes flashing yellow once every 6 seconds. Mariners are requested to transit the area with caution. For more details or comments contact Greg Cotton at 831-239-6192.


                      • #12
                        Awww. My only course wrought by my own fair hand, destroyed before its time. Alas.