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2020-21 Winter Plan: Five Buoys to Stay in Water

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office is operating five CBIBS buoys over the winter, providing water quality data, meteorological observations, and wave and current information. The five locations are:

Except for the York Spit location, the buoys are the new, smaller version of CBIBS buoys. That size means that the CBIBS team can pull buoys from the water using the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s vessel rather than relying solely on contracts or partners. We will monitor conditions throughout the winter and stand ready to pull buoys if weather conditions indicate that potential icing could damage the buoys or the sensitive equipment on board the buoys. We will work closely with our partners at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland Department of Natural Resources for additional winter buoy maintenance and troubleshooting. 

Current operating protocol and winter weather conditions will continue to affect the CBIBS team’s response to any outages at buoys. The team is limited to one-day operations on good weather days, primarily in Maryland waters. These long days include getting to NCBO’s R/V Bay Commitment and transiting to a buoy location or towing a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to a launch ramp near a buoy—all to get the work done in often a tight weather window before getting back to shore and back to their dock or storage location. 

The team recently redeployed a CBIBS buoy at the Point Lookout location. They arrived at the Bay Commitment in Oxford, Maryland, well before dawn and enjoyed a lovely Chesapeake sunrise as they were en route to the mouth of the Potomac River. The weather cooperated, with fairly light winds enabling a safe deployment of the buoy. Thanks to the smooth operations, they were even able to snap a few photos to share. 

The R/V Bay Commitment at the dock in Oxford, Maryland, before the team headed out to Point Lookout.

 

The sun rises over Maryland's Eastern Shore.

 

The team uses the R/V Bay Commitment's A-frame hoist to lift the buoy hull.

 

Sensors are added to the buoy before it is deployed.

 

The Potomac CBIBS buoy, now deployed off Point Lookout.