The strong winds and currents of Hurricane Irma moved or destroyed many of the Aids to Navigation (ATONs), which are placed in our waterways to denote safe channel passages and hidden obstructions.
Responsibilities for maintaining these aids to navigation rests with several government agencies who often are under resourced, especially in times of natural disasters.
Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron (MISPS) has worked jointly with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 95 in the year pre-Irma to share information about observed ATON discrepancies. The MISPS’ Cooperative Charting Committee under the leadership of Carl Thieme, past commander, developed a comprehensive interactive database of all the ATON’s in the waters from the north side of the Isles of Capri down to Everglades City. The database, created and managed by MISPS Lt. Cliff Winings is available as a read-only file on the MISPS website (www.marcoislandsailandpowersquadron.org) as a public service.
After Irma’s fury many more ATON’s were displaced or damaged, making boating navigation more difficult and less safe. MISPS Cooperative Charting teams initiated surveys on the water beginning this January to survey the aids to navigation. Their work continues but they have already submitted early findings to Collier County Coastal Zone Management (CZM). In particular there are several markers that need to be addressed in Caxambas Pass. Chris Darco of Collier County CZM acted quickly by seeking quotes from vendors for the installation of markers and lights at the entrance to Caxambas Pass, the two rock jetties near Cape Marco and the Green can buoy #5. These will need permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the USCG and the county will submit those permit applications and obtain the permits. Meanwhile the county has agreed to install other markers identified as G1, R2 and G7. The Shoal Marker between R6 and G8 will also need permits from the abovementioned agencies as well as the Florida Wildlife Commission. The MISPS commends the Collier County CZM for its very prompt attention to these safe boating needs and pledges to continue its efforts in a cooperative and productive manner to make our waters even safer.
For more information about the good work and educational offerings of the Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron visit www.marcoislandsailandpowersquadron.org.