EASTLAND Port has replaced well known channel marker Tokomaru Buoy as part of its ongoing navigational safety programme.
Weighing three tonnes, the old mussel-covered green buoy was retrieved by the tug boat Titirangi last week and lifted onto the wharf by crane, ending 45-years nautical service.
A new high-density plastic environmentally friendly channel marker replaced the old buoy and has been in position at the start of the harbour navigation channel since January.
It, and other new markers, has received praise from port users. Kevin Pitcher of Eastland Shipping says superior markers are a crucial part of international port operations and he’s thrilled with the new ones. “The channel is a big ditch with shallow water either side and if you don’t get into the channel then you are facing disaster”.
Requiring minimal maintenance the new 3.8 metre high, 970kg buoy cost $30,000 and is double the height of the old one. Eastland Port Marine Manager Capt Paul Hines says it was made in Melbourne and arrived in Gisborne in parts. “It’s a brand new design which attracts very little marine growth, doesn’t rot or burst, and doesn’t need painting. The Eastland Port marine team put it together like Lego”.
Eastland Port dropped the new buoy 15 metres outside the edge of the channel. It’s in a slightly different location to the old Tokomaru Buoy which sat 85 metres outside the edge. “We did that because the ships coming into Gisborne are getting bigger. We required a more precise indication of the channel edge,” says Capt. Hines.
The new Tokomaru Buoy sits in the bay in line with the Eastland Group Raceway about 2km out from the port. It’s connected to a concrete block via a chain link tether sitting 13 metres under water ensuring it doesn’t move.
As with any change to a navigational marker, nautical charts held in New Zealand and around the world have been updated via the Land Information New Zealand ‘notices to mariners’ system.
Eastland Port has already replaced the port side channel entrance marker. In April this year the mid-channel buoys will be replaced, as well as new directional lead lights for the main channel. New lights are also being installed at the end of the breakwater.
Capt. Hines says the buoys and breakwater lights will flash in a 3-second sequence giving mariners a safer route and better illuminating the channel at night.