Lower Cook Inlet Buoy Goes Adrift

The Lower Cook Inlet buoy onshore after going adrift on the morning of May 26, 2021. Photo Credit: Zech Bennett, C&C Diving and Salvage.

The Lower Cook Inlet wave buoy is temporarily out of commission after going adrift early in the morning of May 26,2021. The buoy is expected to be replaced and back in commission by mid-July 2021. AOOS was notified by the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) in California the morning of Wednesday May 26, 2021 that the Lower Cook Inlet wave buoy had gone adrift. CDIP is an extensive network for monitoring waves and beaches along the coastlines of the U.S. and has been working with AOOS since 2011 on maintaining this operational, real time wave observing platform in Lower Cook Inlet. The buoy is very popular with local mariners, fishermen, tanker vessels, and recreational boaters and its absence has not gone unnoticed. This is not the first time this buoy, nicknamed “Bandit”, has broken free. This is a tricky location to maintain a long-term buoy due to strong tidal currents and heavy boating in the area. The buoy was repositioned in 2015 to prevent it from repeatedly going adrift. This new location has been more successful. Typically a buoy can be left in position for one-and-a-half years before needing to have its battery replaced. Zech Bennett of C&C Diving & Salvage in Homer, who has helped us recover and deploy the wave buoy in the past, set out to rescue the buoy on the morning of May 26, but before he could reach it on the water the buoy had drifted ashore about half-way between Homer and Anchor Point during an extremely high tide. At low tide later that night, Zech and his crew of three drove 9 miles up the beach on ATVs to retrieve the buoy which weighs about 570 lbs. The crew gently picked it up and put it on a trailer and returned to the yard. The buoy has been shipped back to California where it is undergoing inspection. AOOS has received numerous calls on the buoy being down, and an out-of-service notification has been posted on the Lower Cook Inlet CDIP Wave Buoy data page in the AOOS Ocean Data Explorer Data Portal (https://portal.aoos.org/#metadata/52551/station). Efforts are underway to send a replacement buoy to Homer for redeployment, hopefully by mid-July. A great shout of thanks goes out to Andrew Gray at CDIP for calling this in, and Zech Bennett and his crew for being so responsive and immediately coordinating the rescue.