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  • Monday, December 10, 2018
  • Wave Buoy Takes Itself on a Cruise

A Spoondrift wave buoy that ACEP’s Jeremy Kasper and Stephanie Jump deployed as part of Sandia National Laboratories project to improve real-time forecasts of available wave energy, broke free of its mooring just a week before its scheduled retrieval. Kasper and Jump traveled to Yakutat to retrieve the buoy, as well seafloor oceanographic moorings. The moorings were deployed as part of the Yakutat Wave Energy Project, a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management-funded project.

The 12-pound, 16.4- by 12.2-inch compact buoy is solar powered, gives live updates on ocean wave heights and directions, and includes GPS tracking. The tracking feature allowed ACEP’s Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center team to get live location updates during its adventurous cruise.

The wave buoy, originally anchored off Cannon Beach near Yakutat, broke free on Sept. 28 and started its journey up the coast. It cruised by numerous glaciers, floated by Icy Bay on Oct. 5, then proceeded to go sightseeing around Kayak and Kanak islands on Oct. 10. It then skirted the ghost town of Katalla on Oct. 12. Its last communication on Oct. 23 showed it about six miles east-southeast of Egg Island, not far from Cordova.

A Cordova resident found the buoy more than 200 miles from its deployment location and contacted Kasper on Nov. 5. The buoy was shipped back to the University of Alaska Fairbanks after its long wander up the coast.