Nov 20-12

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2012: November: Nov 20-12
Alder in Eagle Harbor    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Buoy tender    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Judy Byykkonen
Alder in Marquette    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Mike Schneider

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 07:36 am:

The U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder (WLB-216), was making the rounds in Lake Superior last week, taking in the buoys and channel markers for the winter months.

The top two photos were taken last Wednesday, by Judy Byykkonen, as the Alder was pulling the Eagle Harbor buoy out of the water and onto their deck. Her second shot gives you a good perspective of the size of the Alder (225 feet), with the buoy still hooked to the crane and the crew members standing just off to the left of the buoy on board.

The following day, Thursday, Mike Schneider spotted the Alder in the Marquette area, as she was just getting ready to pull a buoy out of the water. You can see the green top of it, right alongside the cut-out opening of the Alder.

It would be interesting to know just how long the process takes for each buoy retrieval from the Big Lake and how much they weigh. I think that would be some fun trivia facts for those of us that love Lake Superior and the boats that work in her waters.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 07:39 am:

Wow! What a view from a window! Jealous!

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 07:41 am:

Great pictures! Would be a lot of fun to watch that!

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 07:45 am:

Love these photos! I have a DVD of the Sundew (which the Alder replaced) working the buoys. Interesting work but dangerous.

By Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 08:00 am:

Interesting...the bouy looks like a giant pop bottle.

By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 08:18 am:

they look like giant corks of some kind

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 08:35 am:

Bouy, that looks like some rough work.....

By Mel, MN (Mehollop) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 09:04 am:

I don't know if it's still the case, but a number of Keweenaw buoys would be stored for the winter along the seawall at Lily Pond. They are really big!

What piques my curiosity is how they anchor them to the floor of the Lake so they stay in the right spots. Do the anchors stay in place and have to be relocated every spring, or are they brought up with the buoys?

By John W Anderson (Wd8rth) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 09:29 am:

The buoys are held in place by large concrete block, that are also removed.

By sometimesyooper (Nancyd) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:09 am:

Ha ha, Capt. Paul

By Tom (Tom) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:26 am:

Greetings from warm and sunny Lake Jackson, TX.
I have some pics of huge alligators that I would like to send. Must learn how. I dwadled my way
here with my new Mini S and it took three days.
Fun. By the way, a solo drive. Wife hates auto touring.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 10:59 am:

Lake Jackson, eh?? That's just down 288 from me about a couple hours. Last time I was in that area on an inspection we saw a gator just sunning itself along the bayou; silly me didn't have my camera with me though. K

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 11:23 am:

Capt., I'd be sure and take my 'double-barrel' camera next time:-}

By D. A. (Midwested) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 11:38 am:

Until I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary I didnít
know one buoy from the next. The buoy the Alder
is presently lifting in the top picture is called
a CAN Buoy, because it is shaped like a
cylindrical can. It probably weighs somewhere
between 6 and 9 tons. Buoy tending used to be one
of the most dangerous jobs period, let alone the
Coast Guard. Newer technology on the Juniper class
vessels like the Alder has really improved the

CAN buoys are always green and are odd numbered.
The counterpart to a CAN buoy is called a NUN buoy
which gets its name also from its shape,
resembling a Nunís head cap. They are always even
numbered. The reason for the two distinctions is
of course to clearly mark a navigable channel.
Green Can buoys are placed on the left side of the
channel while red Nun buoys mark the right side.
The distinction of left vs. right of course
reverses based upon direction of travel. The
standard adopted is from the point of view of the
ship going up stream or in the case of a harbor,
retuning to the harbor. The memory short cut
taught for remembering this is RRR (Red-Right-

The Portage ship canal is a bit unique in that
there is no true upstream or returning direction.
If I had to guess I would say the lower
(southeastern) entrance from Keweenaw Bay is the
designated ďreturningĒ direction since it follows
the general direction of returning into the Great
Lakes from the St Lawrence Seaway, but since itís
unwise to guess when it come to boating
navigation, one should refer to the navigational
charts for the area.

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 02:00 pm:

D.A., I believe you answered some of Mary's questions very well. Very interesting.

By DEAN SCHWARTZ SR. (Lulu) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 02:38 pm:

The "American Courage" was at dock near one of the shop's I deliver to near Fort Wayne, at the foot of Junction and W. Jefferson.

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 03:09 pm:

I, too, was in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Makes me wish I enlisted for active duty in the Coast Guard.

By Waveaction (Lakelover) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 04:24 pm:

Thank you so much for all of that information, learned something today. There is more to a buoy than I thought.

Great pictures.

By D. A. (Midwested) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 06:36 pm:

Kindred spirits Thomas.

I donít know the average time to retrieve or
deploy a channel marking buoy such as these. A lot
depends upon the weather. They also must retrieve
the concrete anchor and anchor cable. The latest
Juniper class buoy tenders now have GPS controlled
positioning. Both the forward and reverse speed as
well as port and starboard bow thrusters can be
automatically controlled using the global
positioning system. The ships location is
automatically controlled to an accuracy of about
10 meters, even during high winds, heavy seas or
strong currents. Before the advent of this
automatic system, the position had to be manually
controlled so during heavy weather you can imagine
that heavy weight being flung about the side of
the ship and across the open deck.

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