Boat Rides and Mooring Buoys

Posted by Teri

I love my job. I get to visit beautiful sites around Orcas Island — some of them from the water!

Today I was working on permitting a mooring buoy for my clients who own an island getaway in Eastsound. An eelgrass survey is required for submittal to all the state and federal agencies.

Chris Betcher at Jen Jay Diving

Kurt Schwalbe helps Chris Betcher of Jen Jay Diving prepare for eelgrass survey

On these projects, I call on Chris Betcher at Jen Jay Diving in Deer Harbor. Chris and his wife Tracy are the best to work with. Their depth of knowledge, relationships with state and federal agencies and professionalism is respected and held in high regard by all who have the opportunity to work with them.

I always learn something as well.

Eelgrass survey on Orcas Island

Kurt keeps watch while Chris dives

Eelgrass surveys and mooring buoy installations can only be performed at certain times of the year. The window is June 1-October 1 for surveys, July 15- Jan 15 for installation.

Jen Jay Diving Boat on Orcas Island

Jen Jay diving boat is well equipped

Chris Betcher of Jen Jay Diving examines mooring buoy on Orcas Island

Chris examines mooring buoy

The boat met me at the County public dock in Eastsound and we headed south to the site. On their way to Eastsound to pick me up, Chris and his sidekick on the boat, Kurt  Schwalbe saw something big swimming in the area larger than a seal. I had my eyes peeled for a whale even though it is highly unlikely one would venture this far into Eastsound Bay.  Just so you know, nothing surfaced. BUT the sun was out and the water was calm — it was a perfect day.

The boat is equipped with all the gadgets one would need to locate a property, mark GPS coordinates, find the depth and know the tides. In addition to the tools, lines, buckets, dive gear, binoculars, charts and floats, there is a comradery and communication that comes with confidence and years of working together.

First, the topo of the seabed is considered to find a level area and a depth is needed for the type of boat to be moored. Then we view the water from the boat looking for signs of eelgrass (Zostera marina). Once we have a location, a temporary float is set into the water to mark our spot. Chris then begins to put his gear on, with help from Kurt.

Chris swims a radius of 25 feet plus the length of the boat. He uses two measuring tapes to create his underwater grid. This day, the water was clear and visibility was out to 75 feet. Chris recounts his underwater findings to Kurt, who takes notes, and they promise to turn over the report in two weeks.

When the eelgrass survey is complete, I submit the mooring buoy permit application to San Juan County, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It sometimes takes as long as six months for all the agencies to approve this type of permit — all the more reason to make sure the permit is filed correctly so there are no delays.

Once I have the permit in hand, I’ll call Chris back for installation of the buoy. My clients’ island getaway will have a convenient spot to moor their boat, and I’ve helped another client sail through the permit process, enjoying it all the way.

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.

 

 

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Filed under Boating, Community, Nature

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