Sunday, December 12, 2010

Haro Strait Weather Reporting Buoy

Haro Strait

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Well thanks a lot Coast Guard Canada. This important ""automated" weather reporting buoy has been off line since the November snow storm that hit Victoria BC more then six weeks ago.

This is not a remote buoy. It sits on a reef in the middle of Haro Strait; part of the main shipping channel that links the port of Vancouver with the Pacific Ocean. It lies less then 15 nautical miles from the main CG base in Victoria and about equal distance to the CG station in Pat Bay. 

The Kelp Reef buoy is in an exposed group of rocks south-east of Darcy Island. When it's working (it frequently fails in winter gales and storms) it provides real time wind speed data which is vitally important to recreational kayakers who might be venturing out to the Discovery Island group just off Oak Bay.

Kelp Reef is totally exposed to both north winds and more importantly the south east winds that almost always accompany our worst storms. The north wind brings cold and snow but the more frequent SE storms usually cause more damage. During these storms SE winds will build large ocean swells and drive them across the east entrance of Juan de Fuca Strait into Haro Strait.

The swell and wind warps around the top end of Chatham Island races across the narrow gap and to slam into the end of 10 Mile Point. This gap is Baynes Channel the narrowest crossing to Chatham and Discovery Island. When the SE winds and swell piles up against an ebb flowing out of Haro Strait this is a potential grave yard for any inexperienced or ill informed boater.

I once witnessed a NewWest tug, pulling a barge, narrowly miss being capsized in such conditions as it struggled to get through the gap. At the other end of Haro Straight myself and a group of kayakers,, lunching on Rum Island, stood transfixed as an oil tanker misjudged the current and winds lost control and did a complete 360 before resuming its way down Haro Strait.

CG Canada is proposing that the last manned light house stations on the coast be shut down and replaced by automated units that would be maintained via helicopter and other CG vessels.

Sorry but that's a bad idea. This is a link to a short clip of a November Gale in Haro Strait. The view is north toward Haro, Dacy Island and Cordova Bay.

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