Homeowners on Savannah River had to move buoys

Some residents in North Augusta's Campbell Town Landing put buoys on the Savannah River because boats rocked their docks. The U.S. Coast Guard wanted them removed or relocated.

The hotter the weather, the more boats you'll see buzzing along the Savannah River, especially near downtown Augusta and North Augusta.

 

Some residents in Campbell Town Landing got fed up with all those passing boats rocking their docks -- and decided to do something about it.

Last weekend, a zig-zagging line of "no wake" buoys appeared in the river, not far from the center channel. They were more than simple floats, and some were anchored with chains and concrete.

The intent, one neighbor told me, was to keep boat traffic away from their homes and docks and route them closer to the Georgia side.

The problem, though, is that the river is a public waterway and owning a house overlooking that water doesn't come with the right to block any portion of it, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which ordered the barriers removed or relocated.

"I could sympathize with people who just got tired of boats rocking because of the wake, but you can't take that into your own hands and just willy nilly start putting markers out there," said John VanOsdol, an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Under maritime law, the river channel from Clarks Hill Dam to the coast is a navigable waterway under Coast Guard jurisdiction, even if there is no permanent station or patrol boat in this area.

Although the markers might slow or discourage boat traffic near the houses, they could also contribute to accidents if a boat or skier collided with or became entangled in one. Neighbors who did not want the markers also voiced concerns that rowing teams typically face backwards and might hit the markers, or would have to zig-zag around them.

Chief Boatswain's Mate Eric Dieckmann, the officer in charge of the Tybee Island Aids to Navigation Team, said in an e-mail Friday that the buoys were in the process of being removed.

"I have talked to the people responsible for putting out the no wake buoys," he said. "They promised me they would move the buoys out of the channel and put them closer to boat docks."

By Friday evening, most of the markers had been removed.

BAURLE RAMP: There might have been some delays in the long awaited expansion of the Bob Baurle boat ramp below New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, but Richmond County officials say it is almost finished -- and could reopen by Aug. 12 if all goes well.

Ron Houck, the planning and development manager for Richmond County's Recreation, Parks & Facilities Department, said final paving will begin this coming week, with placement of grass and The Baurle ramp is one of few places offering access to the lower Savannah River. It was closed last winter to allow workers to expand the site, using a 2007 matching grant from then-Gov. Sonny Perdue's "Go Fish Georgia" initiative.

The city's $270,000 grant was matched with municipal funding and some in-kind credits for nearby land, which brought the total project cost to about $500,000.

BUCKARAMA TIME: Georgia Wildlife Federation's annual Buckarama will be held Friday through Sunday at the Atlanta Expo Center North, I-285 South at Exit 55, Jonesboro Road, Atlanta.

This year, the programs include retriever demonstrations, snake shows from the Southeastern Reptile Rescue and demonstrations by the Georgia Falconry Association, in addition to vendors and exhibitors. The event also includes the 2011 Deer Head Competition with Boone & Crockett certified scorers.

Admission is $8, or $5 for seniors and youths 6-12, with children 5 and under admitted free. For more details, visit www.gwf.org.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119 or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

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Wed, 08/23/2017 - 01:54

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