Written by Richard L. Withington
posted on August 13, 2014 07:35
Good questions…. and there is one more: “Do you want it back”? Here is the beginning of the mystery.
Early in the morning last week I got a call about a hazard to navigation, floating near the dive site buoy in front of Clayton.
I ran up there and found a cylindrical mass totally encased in zebra mussels. It was floating vertically. It was thought to be part of a floating dock or breakwater. I put a line on it and towed it to shore. It did not tow easily, and was aground before I got to shore.
We hooked onto it with a crane and were amazed to see an intact navigational buoy, complete with about thirty feet of anchor chain, coming out of the river.
Like the dog that caught the truck; now what do we do to identify its origin, and what do we do with the beast in the meantime?
Our initial thought was that it had marked a shallow shoal. Wind or ice could have slid the sinker off the shoal, pulling the marker down with it. Eventually, the shackle to the sinker rusted through, and the buoy popped to the surface. Thence, it drifted to where we found it, just outside the shipping channel. Fortunately, no one had hit it in the night. But how far had it drifted? How many ships had passed it without noticing its presence? What might have happened if a ship or other boat had hit it? A scary thought.
The logical explanation was the shoal marker northwest of Bartlett Point. Markers have sunk off that shoal in the past under similar circumstances. We thought we had the answer until we realized that the marker on that shoal is painted red, and it is a "nun" rather than a "can" buoy. Where else could it have come from?
There are three can markers on the south shore channel along Carleton Island, but they are all smaller than this one. We are not presently aware of any black can buoys on Lake Ontario. Perhaps this is a Canadian visitor.
I have scraped most of the zebra mussels off the marker. It is mostly black and has some white and a little red paint near the top. Could this have been the result of a collision years ago? The bouy is 24 inches in circumference and 12 feet long. The lower 4.5 feet is tapered from cylinder to cone shape. The top 7.5 feet is cylindrical, with metal "ears" for lifting. The ears are 1/2" welded steel. The only identifiers noted so far are the numerals "03".
Another theory was that it might somehow be related to the alleged sinking of a German U-boat in this area in the early 1940's.
The mystery of the submarine may never be resolved, but the mystery of the buoy should be solvable. I am hoping that the readers of Thousand Islands Life.com have the memory, knowledge, and resources to explain this unusual finding. Any information would be greatly appreciated. The condition of the marker suggests that it has been totally submerged for many years.
(I think I can recall a black can on Limebarrel Shoal years ago. It was replaced by a lighted buoy in the 1950's, yes, I think.)
Richard L. Withington, Round Island
Dr. Richard (Dick) L. Withington is a retired Orthopedic Surgeon, living out a childhood dream, spending his fifth consecutive winter alone at the head of Round Island. In October, Dick moves into the former servants' quarters, "Wintercroft." Dr. Withington has an airboat, which he keeps at his own dock in winter, ready to help. The Sheriff's office will call him directly, if and when there is a problem.
Dick’s first article for TI Life, A Winter Islander, was published in January 2009. To see all of Dick’s island experiences, search TI Life under Richard L. Withington. Kim Lunman, writer and publisher of Island Life, a print magazine, presented his profile in TI Life entitled, The Doctor is in, February 2012.