Navigating Your Boat

The Amelia River which runs along the western side of Amelia Island is also the Intercoastal Waterway. This waterway is the interstate for boats traveling up and down the Eastern seaboard and extends from Key West Florida to New York State/ Canadian boarder. Much like the interstate for cars the Intercostal Waterway has signs and markers that advise boaters where the channel is located, danger areas, shoals and rocks. These signs are in the form of buoys, day markers and range markers. These buoys and markers are placed in very specific areas that are mapped to be the best location given the tidal ranges to warn mariners of obstructions. A series of lights, horns, clappers and whistles are intergraded into some buoys to continue their navigational assistance even after dark and on foggy days.

Despite heavy anchoring systems sometimes these navigational aids have been known to move; relocating themselves into places you would least expect. Recently the Ritz Carlton woke up to a faint flashing red light roughly 300 yards from the beach. Concerned it could be some type of distress signal they notified the Fire Department to investigate. What they found was the red buoy channel marker that should be on duty in the Nassau sound. This buoy had travelled from the western side of the 2 fixed bridges, gone out through the sound and came to rest in front of the Ritz. Weather from one of the passing hurricanes likely caused the move, but it rendered no assistance to boaters being out of position.

Another issue regarding these waterway aids is how susceptible they are to theft. Reports of stolen bells and solar panels (power to operate the lights) probably to be sold for their scrap value have occurred in some northern parts of the Intercoastal Waterway. If your boating in areas you are unfamiliar with, pay close attention to your charts and because the marker or buoy that is suppose to be there may be missing in action.

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