Save the whistle buoy

Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

The Whistle Buoy desperately needs your help and it needs your help now. Also known as the Whistler and the CR Buoy, it is without a doubt, the single-most relied-upon AtoN (Aids to Navigation) that boaters (commercial, sport fishermen and sailboaters) use to find the entrance to the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Now, the United States Coast Guard is planning on dismantling the Whistler, erased from existence (and the charts) forever.

When I heard this news, I was in total shock and disbelief.But believe it you must, because the dismantling of the Whistle Buoy is stated in cold black ink in a recent document entitled "LOCAL NOTICE TO MARINERS", DISTRICT 13; WEEK 20/14.

But don't take my word for it.You can read the document yourself by following the following link:'s pdf without the period at the end.

The bottom of page 7 clearly states, "The U.S. Coast Guard is proposing to disestablish Chetco River Approach Lighted Whistle Buoy "CR" (LLNR 565-8595) as it is no longer considered necessary for the safe navigation of the waterway."

Disestablishing, by the way, is just another word for dismantling and completely removing the buoy.

Of course, being a fishing fanatic, my first thought is that if this buoy is eradicated, finding the local fishing hotspots will become a much more difficult task. If you like listening to the fishing chatter on your CB or VHF radio (and who doesn't like chasing a good radio bite?), phrases like "The fish are five miles out and 50 degrees back to the whistler" will no longer be used.

Now that's the selfish part of me talking; the part of me that likes to know where the fish are biting at any given time.

The altruistic part of me, however, is severely stern.If the Whistle Buoy is dismantled, the implications toward loss of human life will be devastating.

I totally disagree with the statement that, ". it (the Whistle Buoy) is no longer considered necessary for the safe navigation of the waterway."

In reality, it's quite the opposite.

As stated previously, the CR Buoy is without a doubt, the single-most relied-upon AtoN (Aids to Navigation) that boaters use to find the entrance to the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Removing the Whistle Buoy will inevitably lead to casualties and fatalities, and upon removal of the Whistler, these catastrophic events will probably happen sooner than later.

In addition, finding the Whistle Buoy is the key component in safely navigating the waterway leading to the Port of Brookings Harbor.Here's why.

While a compass and a chart is the surest means of navigating toward any port, which in this instance is the Port of Brookings Harbor, it would be impossible to mark down all of the wash rocks and pinnacles on a chart.

Often, and this is more the rule rather than the exception, fishermen find their quarry fairly close to shore.From many commonly-based fishing venues, plotting a course directly for the north and south jetties will eventually lead to a boat capsizing or suffering severe damage, due to a plethora of navigational hazards. As any seasoned veteran of the salt knows, you can be in 60 feet of water one second, and in 6 inches of water the next.

Maintaining the Whistle Buoy is vital in saving lives. In order to safely plot a course to the Port of Brookings Harbor, you must first plot a course for the Whistler.From the Whistler, finding the Port of Brookings Harbor is a piece of cake.

The Whistle Buoy has been here since I landed on Brookings soil 33 years ago and it has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives in a proactive way.

The good news is that this proposed waterway project is open to public consideration.But act fast, because it won't be open very much longer.

To continue saving lives, I implore all fishermen and boaters, whether they're locals or from out of the area, to please write a letter to the Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard in Seattle, asking not to dismantle the CR Buoy as it is critical in navigating the waterway leading to the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Please send your letters to:

Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District

915 Second Avenue, 35 th Floor, Room 3510

Seattle, WA 98174-1067

Fishing for rockfish and lingcod was very good last week when winds finally abated on Thursday, and a few salmon and Pacific halibut were caught as well. As of last week, 55 percent of the Pacific halibut quota (2,025 pounds) is still available to be caught in the Southern Oregon Subarea.

Starting today, Saturday June 21, ocean anglers in Oregon may now keep fin-clipped (hatchery) coho salmon as part of their daily salmon bag limit. And there's lots of hatchery coho out there!

Several Chinook salmon were caught on Thursday in very cold 45.5-degree water. When the northwest winds finally stop blowing, the water temp will warm up toward a salmon's comfort biting zone between 51 and 53 degrees, which could occur toward the beginning of the week.

So sharpen your hooks and buy bait. Chinook and coho salmon await.

Tight lines!

The Curry Coastal Pilot
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Saturday May 20, 2017

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