Following the tragic drowning of Private Fenton Matthew earlier this year, a decision was made to enhance the safety of all users at English Bay by installing a large tailor-made life-saving buoy in the waters, which would serve as a point of refuge should anyone experience any difficulties while swimming. Thus, through the combined effort and generous donations from several island organizations and individuals, a custom made buoy was devised, ordered and delivered to Ascension.
The buoy is three meters in diameter, weighs in at 800kg and has a guaranteed lifespan of 10–15+ years. The core is made from closed cell polyethylene foam core and is surrounded by a yellow 12mm thick polyurethane nylon reinforced elastomer skin - three hull step cutouts were incorporated into the design to allow for easy access. The AIG Marine team completed the ensemble with the addition of grab ropes and a mast complete with LED warning lamp.
On Tuesday 15 November, a small gathering was held at the pier head, where the Administrator Marc Holland outlined the reasoning behind the purpose of the buoy and what is hoped it will achieve in the future. Thanks were extended to Wg Cdr Andy Pittock (RAF), the MOD, Paul Mildon (Babcock), Duncan Smith (CSO), Ray Ellick (Sure) and Major Daniel Schempp (USAF) for their company/individual contributions towards the overall cost, with special thanks also being extended to Wg Cdr Pittock for arranging free passage for the buoy on the FIRS – a huge cost saving. Recognition was also given to the AIG Marine team for all the hard work that had gone into adding the final touches, as to Carl Thomas and Richard Joshua for arranging the overall design. The ceremony was then concluded with a blessing given by Father Jack Horner, a few photos and the chance for folk to examine the buoys features..
The buoy is now in place in the waters at English Bay, where it is hoped that it will prove a useful means of providing additional safety to all users of this area.
Just a small reminder…the main function of this buoy is to provide refuge for swimmers in distress, it is not a mooring buoy and therefore boat owners should refrain from tying up to it at any point in time. Your co-operation in this is greatly appreciated.