|Thomas – what the heck is that thing?|
Huh! What the heck is that?
Close to sunrise, I noticed a small green light blinking on the ocean just south of our house, flashing on and off at regular intervals. Well, that needs to be investigated. Our camera has a decent lens so I zoomed in for a better look; it was a huge marker buoy drifting free, and bobbing its way north towards our beach.
Fifteen minutes later it ran aground, tipped over, and ponderously rolled in the waves until it was stuck about twenty feet from shore. We emailed a friend who knew how to contact the naval base to advise them of the problem.
|Buoy down and rolling across coral|
A group of marinas (sailors) arrived, a non-commissioned officer with his crew, to check out the buoy.
Then the sleek navy cutter arrived cruising back and forth in the deep water on the other side of the reef, unable to hook a line on the buoy due to the increased size of the waves, and the shallow water inside the reef.
|Waiting for a decision from the big bosses|
The weather turned foul so we invited the guys to take shelter on our patio, offering them coffee and snacks while they waited for a decision from higher-up. The navy bosses were in communication with the harbour master and two employees arrived mid-afternoon to check the situation.
One lucky guy was designated to retrieve the valuable GPS beacon. The ocean is very warm in October, but dressed in protective gear it was a bit of a struggle for him to wade into the thigh deep water and remove the heavy beacon, still transmitting its location at 21 14.5 N and 86 44.1 W. It is good thing the beacon was removed, or we could have had ships trying to take a position reading off of our house. We envisioned an unscheduled cruise ship visit similar to the Costa Concordia that ran aground in Italy in 2012.
By now we were serving ham and chicken sandwiches to the on-shore crew complete with a choice of coffee or pop. It is a pretty good gig, hanging out with us while the jejes decide what to do with the marker buoy. Around three in the afternoon the officer in charge flashed us a big friendly smile and said that the weather had become too rough and the cutter was not going to be able to pull the marker buoy back out to sea.
|Oct 7th 2014 – before beacon was removed|
“We’ll come back mañana, or when the weather calms down,” he assured us.
“Si, claro. Okay, no problem.”
Smiles and handshakes all around, and everyone departed: October 7th 2014.
Yep, a year ago last week, and we are still looking at the rusting bottom side of a huge piece of scrap iron. For the first few weeks the air stank of rotting sea creatures, until our neighbours helpfully hired a young friend to scrape the dying barnacles and mussels from the exposed bottom. So how big is this thing? It has a six foot diameter, and without wading into the water with a tape measure to get the exact measurements, we think it is about fifteen to eighteen feet tall. It’s big and it’s heavy.
|October 11th 2015 – still waiting|
We have considered decorating it up for various holiday celebrations: Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. We have had friends offer to paint it with cool designs. But no one will remove, or move it, or even consider cutting it up. It is federal property, but the feds don’t want it, the navy doesn’t want it and the harbour master doesn’t want it. The first week or two that the buoy was here it moved around a bit, a little to the north, a little to the south, ever closer to shore until it is now half out of the water and stuck between two rocky outcroppings. Our biggest concern is not esthetics, but of safety. A big storm could turn this thing into a missile and shoot it straight at our house, knocking out walls and ripping down support columns. Or, conversely it could be swept out to sea during a hurricane becoming a dangerous navigational hazard, unlit, unmarked, and big enough to punch a hole in a large ship.
|One of several large plastic pontoons|
We know it is not the fault of the great folks that work for the navy or the harbour master. We have always had the greatest respect for them. They are willing, and helpful. The decision came from higher up the pay-scale ladder. It is just not in the budget.
Well, then, give a scrap dealer the opportunity to cut it up and make a few bucks, it certainly is not going to be put back in service damaged, and dented from a year of rolling back and forth between two rocks. It’s a win-win situation. We get rid of a safety hazard, and a local person could make a few bucks salvaging the scrap.
|Recent Cuban refugee boat near Casa Coral|
Oh, and we have a couple of other little items that could be tossed into the salvage mix: several fifteen-foot long, by two feet around tubes of hard black plastic that were the pontoons for a Cuban refugee boat a year ago, now scattered along the eastern side of the island; plus another recent Cuban refugee boat that is currently lodged in the rocks near Casa Coral disintegrating in the waves. We love old marine stuff, anchors, old ships, and other marine artifacts, just not half sunk vessels that are capable of causing major damage.
Hopefully our “artifact” will eventually be removed, but as we discovered several years ago, Mañana, doesn’t mean tomorrow, it just means not today.
Lynda & Lawrie
|Awesome bunch of guys!|
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