Community volunteers secure drifting buoy marker at Tuffy Channel
Saturday, May 9th, 2020
A buoy serving as a navigational marker at Tuffy Channel on the Belize Barrier Reef in front of Ambergris Caye has been secured to its designated location by local volunteers. Having drifted away due to high waves and strong currents, the buoy’s relocation is believed to have caused a Mexican Naval vessel to run aground on the reef on Wednesday, May 6th, as it transited through the channel.
In a joint effort by volunteers, the buoy is back where it belongs thanks to volunteers from the San Pedro Tour Operators Association, the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, and members of the Rickilee Response and Rescue Team.
Tuffy Channel is the main entrance to Ambergris Caye when traveling from the eastern side of the reef. Buoys are anchored along the channel to guide vessels. To prevent another boat accident, on Thursday, May 7th the team of volunteers set out to secure the buoy on its original location.
The conditions of the sea were still a bit choppy and the job had to be finished the next day when it was further secured. According to President of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Philip ‘Billy’ Leslie, all efforts to place back the buoy to its designated site was done properly and without damaging the reef.
Drifting buoy believed to misguide Mexican Naval vessel
The Mexican military boat was reportedly traveling to the Mexican city of Chetumal when it crashed on the reef. According to Vice Commandant of the Belize Coast Guard, Gregory Soberanis, two boats, one of which was the lead vessel, known as a Safe Boat Class were using some marking buoys to safely transit through Tuffy Channel unaware that one of the buoys had drifted to the right of the channel. “The Mexican boat that used that buoy as a marker point eventually ended up on the reef itself.” Said Soberanis. He pointed out that the military vessel has diplomatic status, thus the matter regarding any issues with damages to the reef will be dealt with via Belize and Mexico’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
A big thank you goes out to all those who helped in getting the buoy marker back to its original site. They include owners of Scuba School management and staff, David Cal and crew, Mike Cain and crew, Philip ‘Billy’ Leslie along with members of San Pedro Tour Operators Association, San Pedro Tour Guide Association, and Rickilee Response and Rescue Team.
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