Lost Coast buoy found

February 13, 2007 12:00 am
Roger Hermansen manages the slack in the line supplying diver Vic Markytan with oxygen as he uses an underwater blowtorch to cut through the barnacle encrusted chain beneath the drifting buoy. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).
Roger Hermansen manages the slack in the line supplying diver Vic Markytan with oxygen as he uses an underwater blowtorch to cut through the barnacle encrusted chain beneath the drifting buoy. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

The Crescent City Coast Guard Auxiliary needed to run a special mission Monday to retrieve a buoy that drifted from its original station — 600 miles off the Eureka coast.

The buoy, a six-meter NOMAD used to measure and record barometric pressure, wind speeds and wave energy for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was eventually recovered 12 miles off the Crescent City coast and brought into the harbor.

On Dec. 7, 2006 the weather station buoy broke loose from its moored station 600 nautical miles west of Eureka and floated almost to the Oregon/California border before it was recovered by a U.S. Coast Guard crew from Astoria.

While they towed the buoy, a 15,000-foot chain that anchored the instrument to the ocean floor snagged and stopped the trek, nearly five miles from the Point St. George Lighthouse.

The Crescent City Auxiliary, on its converted fishing vessel the Two Sisters, assisted in freeing the buoy by sending a diver to cut the one and one-quarter inch chain with an underwater blowtorch.

Vic Markytan, a diver with M M Diving in Crescent City was the man hired to cut the chain. He said that the buoy presented a unique challenge because of the wave swells.

"You're just bobbing up and down in the water, underneath the buoy, trying to hold onto the chain and focus (the blowtorch flame) on one small area," Markytan said of his working environment. But within five minutes he had successfully cut through the chain and freed the buoy.

The Chetco River Coast Guard Auxiliary then towed the weather gauge the rest of the way.

Crescent City Auxiliary's Vice Flotilla Commander Charles Kresa said that this operation was unique in that you can't really train for something like this.

"We practice different scenarios with the Del Norte Sheriff's Office and their boat, the fire departments and their boats," Kresa said, "because you never know what's going to come up."

"And you definitely don't see this everyday," he added.