Buoy that drifted across Atlantic safely recovered

Buoy that drifted across Atlantic safely recovered


ILV Granuaile prepares to lift the navigation buoy from the water – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

A massive navigation buoy that drifted almost 4,000 kilometres across the Atlantic, has been safely recovered from the sea and is no longer a danger to shipping.

The buoy, measuring 15 feet in height, 6 feet in diameter and weighing several tonnes, was discovered in Pulleen Bay between Kilkee and Doonbeg earlier this month.

The discovery was made by members of the Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard while they were training. After spotting something in the water, they went to investigate and located the buoy which was badly rusted and bearing only the marks “NQ 1.”

The details were recorded and sent to the Irish Coast Guard marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry. Staff there were able to establish that the buoy originated in Canada and believe it may have drifted from as far as Nova Scotia almost 4,000 kilometres away.

It was confirmed: “NQ1 is the designator for the Orpheus Rock buoy, which is positioned near the Green Island lighthouse, off Isle Madame, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.”

Watch officers at Valentia had been broadcasting a Radio Navigation Warning to mariners advising them of the location of the buoy and that it was a ‘hazard to navigation.’

The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) sent the ILV Granuaile to Clare where, once the crew had located the buoy, were able to use the ship’s crane to lift the buoy on board.

They discovered massive chains, about 60m in length, attached to the base of the buoy. It’s understood the chains prevented the buoy drifting any further and kept it in Pulleen Bay for about a fortnight.

The 15ft high, 3-tonne buoy is lowered onto the deck of the ILV Granuaile – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

CIL’s Director of Operations and Navigation Services Captain Robert McCabe confirmed: “Granuaile has recovered the buoy and we will land it in our facility in Dun Laoghaire when the ship is next in the area. We will contact Canadian Coast Guard to check if they would like to recover the buoy.”

It’s understood however that given its value this is unlikely that the Canadian Coast Guard will want to see the buoy returned.

Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.