Where the buoys are: Red Can marker off the job

A replacement for the colloquially named Red Can buoy is on its way to the West Coast.

The Red Can buoy’s official name is the Carolina Channel Light and Whistle Buoy LL136 and it was a well-known piece of Ucluelet’s viewscape off Amphitrite Point until being reported out-of-position in early April.

DFO spokesperson Dan Bate said the Bamfield Coast Guard Station located the buoy and dragged it to calmer waters where it was picked up by the Canadian Coast Guard’s

buoy-laying vessel ‘Bartlett.’ The Bartlett was unable to reposition the buoy at its original location so a replacement buoy has been loaded onto the Coast Guard vessel Sir Wilfred Laurier and will be deployed in early May, according to Bate.

In the meantime, Bate said an advisory has been issued warning mariners that the area is currently buoyless.

He said the Red Can buoy has a historic penchant for wandering off so different configurations will be considered to enhance the new buoy’s long-term viability.

The Red Can’s most recent displacement likely stemmed from its chain-stem that connected it to an anchor-block on the ocean’s floor, according to Bate.

He said outside of situations where a buoy is struck by a vessel, the most common cause of a buoy escaping its position is related to chain or anchor damage.

“As the buoy is moved around it stretches that chain and sometimes it can move the anchor which causes the buoy to be off position,” he said.

While the Red Can buoy may be out of the West Coast game its career could continue elsewhere.

“When a buoy is in the water for a period of time it’s standard protocol that it gets removed after several years they drag it out, clean it up, repaint it and re-badge it, so Red Can buoy LL136 could be moved to another place on the coast depending on its condition,” Bate said.

“As buoys age obviously the metal gets fatigued and then they will take them out of service but it’s fairly common for them to be repainted or to be re-badged and put out to other places.”

There are different types of buoys for different areas of Canada’s coastline with the West Coast of Vancouver Island typically receiving “Long legged buoys” which have a large portion underwater weighing them down and making them more stable in harsh weather conditions, according to Bate.

The Canadian Government first placed a buoy off Amphitrite Point on August 8, 1905, but Bate doubted the recently removed Red Can is the original.

“I can’t say it’s not possible but in all likelihood it has been changed out many times,” he said.


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