Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 4:19 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Captain’s Log: Funding Shortfall Threatens to Sink Lifesaving Buoys

The marine weather stations, including one on the Santa Barbara Channel, are worth fighting for.

How valuable is a resource that protects human lives 24 hours a day, every day? I can’t think of a higher value system than measuring a resource in terms of lives protected. When such a resource is threatened, is it worth fighting for? C’mon now … don’t let me down on this one. There is such a resource that is threatened and you can join me in preventing a profound loss. Perhaps a loss of lives.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
The resource is a marine weather buoy — two of them, actually. The one that most concerns Santa Barbara Channel boaters is the West Santa Barbara Channel Buoy Station 46054 (Santa Barbara — 38 nautical miles west of Santa Barbara), an NOAA National Data Buoy Center resource scheduled for disestablishment the moment it fails, which is likely to be within the year, based on experience. The other is Station 46023 (Point Arguello — 17 nautical miles west-northwest of Point Arguello).

Both are important to boaters, but the West Santa Barbara Channel Buoy is uniquely positioned to give boaters warnings of weather wrapping around Point Conception and aiming at the Channel Islands. Wise and knowledgeable boaters check this buoy online before heading out, then make safe decisions based on current information and 24-hour trends.

Trust me on this. Those buoys help me keep my charter passengers safe. I study the buoy observations daily before making informed destination decisions for my charter trips. Click here to check out the site for yourself.

Why are buoys threatened with disestablishment? Because project funding has run out to maintain them. That is where we the people can have an impact.

By creating enough of a public outcry, we stand a good chance of influencing decisions about redirecting funding to continue maintaining one or both of these weather data buoys that provide critical information about wind velocity direction, wave height and interval, sea and air temperatures, and other helpful information. We need to ask that funding be made available. Our local county, state and federal representatives are the best place to start. Call them. Then turn your attention to the NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center.

To learn more about the particular disestablished buoys, call Stephen Cucullu at 228.688.3804.

There is a possibility of getting two other buoys relocated to the positions held by the disestablished buoys. Especially in the case of the West Santa Barbara Channel Buoy, this would be a plausible workaround. We need all the stations we can afford, but with weather patterns, location is everything.

To learn more about the possibility of relocating buoys that will continue to be funded, call Mark Jackson of the NOAA/NWS Oxnard office at 805.988.6615.

Let’s work together to stay safe out there.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.


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