'Light The Buoys' Campaign
- a yearlong effort, admirably done -
Program Update: As of October 1, 2019, we had received 101 'Light the Buoys' donations totaling $18,460. With the $15,000 match from the club's reserves, we have exceeded our goal of $30,000 to purchase and install lights on the navigation and safety buoys of the Chain. A complete inventory of buoy condition and lights will be conducted as the buoys are removed in the fall, and equipment to complete the project will be ordered over the winter and installed next spring.
As one of our primary efforts to promote Boating and Water Safety on the Whitefish Chain, WCYC provides and maintains more than 100 navigation and safety buoys. Placed on the lakes at the direction of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Water Patrol, these buoys are more correctly referred to as ATONs (Aids TO Navigation) and are regulated by US Coast Guard and comply with International Standard IALA-B. On the Whitefish Chain they include:
- Red/Green buoy pairs which mark the nine primary channels between our lakes and six other restricted navigation areas (27 pairs). As of January, 2019, none of these buoys was lighted.
- Slow/No Wake buoys (49 buoys) control speed in these channels. Many of them were equipped with white solar-powered lights.
- Buoys also mark Danger and Speed Control areas at nine other locations (12 buoys).
As traffic on The Chain has increased, the need to better mark these areas, specifically at night, had been identified by several constituencies as an important objective for us to pursue. The cost of adding the appropriate lights, and upgrading buoys to accept them where needed, was initially estimated to be well in excess of $20,000. The WCYC Board discussed this situation at its 2018 fall board meeting and voted to initiate a fundraising campaign, whereby the club's reserve funds would be used to match individual contributions up to a total of $10,000. In 2019, that matching amount was increased to $15,000.
Solar powered lights (red/green) were initially installed on the primary channel marker buoys during the summer of 2019. They were also installed on many of the slow/no wake buoys (white) that were not previously lighted. Additional requirements will be determined during the fall 2019 removal, and the required lights and replacement buoys will be ordered over the winter and installed in Spring 2020. Mission accomplished.
On behalf of visitors and residents alike, to all those who helped complete this vision - within a year - we say a grateful "Thank You!!"