Chatham Officials Urge Boaters to Comment on Buoy Removal Plan

CHATHAM – The U.S. Coast Guard has extended the public comment period for its proposal to remove the Chatham Beach Lighted Whistle Buoy “C” and town officials are urging boaters to submit comments opposing the plan.

The buoy, which is located about three-quarters of a mile off of the barrier beach, is used by recreational and commercial vessels to navigate Chatham inlet and travel the coastline.

The buoy is the only inshore aid to navigation in the vicinity of Chatham that can be reliably obtained by radar.

Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith said the buoy is one of the aids to navigation used by mariners.

“They use their GPS, they may use radar, charts, compasses, fathometers and buoys,” Smith said. “We think it’s been important for the last quarter century and we think it should remain.”

Town officials are also concerned about the removal of the buoy due to the high frequency of reduced visibility along the east side of Cape Cod.

“We have had people who have been lost in the fog,” Smith said.

“Chatham and Nantucket, and Cape Cod in general, are known for their fog. To the east here is correctly called the ‘grave luck yard of the Atlantic’ and we think that it adversely affect safe passage of vessels and we think it should remain.”

Smith said Chatham inlet is difficult and dangerous, but is the only inlet on the east side of Cape Cod that is navigable.

“That buoy helps mariners find that,” he said.

Smith said any boaters who use waters east of Chatham and Cape Cod should be commenting on the Coast Guard plan to remove the buoy.

The Coast Guard is asking comments to contain the size and type of vessel used, whether it is recreational or commercial, the distance from the aid when you start looking for the buoy, and how the signal is used.

Written comments referring to Project No. 01-18-041 should be emailed to or to Lieutenant Arthur Frooks at

The extended public comment period closes February 7.

Smith said he has been told by the Coast Guard that they want to hear from more boaters regarding the buoy removal plan.

“That’s a positive step,” Smith said. “We hope people will comment. We know it is the offseason and it is difficult for people to get the word, but that’s who they want to hear from – people who use it.”

The Coast Guard says the buoy is in an exposed location, and is constantly being moved by winds and storms, requiring staff to keep moving it back into place.

The buoy’s removal may also be related to the re-designation of Coast Guard Station Chatham from a surf station to a heavy weather station.

“We are deeply concerned with the re-designation of Chatham from a surf station to a heavy weather station,” Smith said. “It’s a downgrade in their capabilities.”

The Chatham station serves from Hyannis all the way up towards Wellfleet on the east side of Cape Cod and out to the shipping lanes.

“We think that they should remain having the same capabilities that they have had the last 100 years,” Smith said.

Smith said town officials are big supporters of the Coast Guard and that is why they are highlighting these concerns.

“We want them to remain at full status with their full capabilities and we are concerned when the station is downgraded and buoys start to be removed,” Smith said.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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