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"Why don’t we have one?" Charlotte Harbor boaters want water, weather monitors

Boaters on the Charlotte Harbor do not have access to real time water and weather data before they head out on the water.
Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 24, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Boaters in Charlotte County say they are at a safety disadvantage because Charlotte Harbor does not have real time monitors to give them accurate data on water and weather conditions before setting sail.

Captain Russell Tryder told Fox 4’s Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk that safety on the water is his first priority before he sets sail.

“Paramount is safety, so before you go out you look at weather forecasts, you look at wind strength and water level, but these are all forecasts,” said Tryder.

Russell Tryder
Captain Russell Tryder speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

Tryder said those forecasts do not necessarily predict accurate conditions for boaters.

“So, they’re not real time,” said Tryder. “So if you can take that information with real time as far as wind, wave height, strength, tide, direction, speed and so forth you can really form a much better conclusion before you step on the boat.”

According to Mark Chase, the Fleet Captain for the Punta Gorda Boat Club, conditions on the water can change quickly. He told Orenczuk that he’s been misinformed by inaccurate forecasts in the past.

“The website use is called WillyWeather, they were predicting like a 12-14 mph wind, which is a little choppy out here,” said Chase. “I got out here and it was blowing 20-22 mph and I literally had to replace some screws in my windshield mounts when I got back, my boat was literally broken from it.”

Mark Chase
Mark Chase speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

Chase said Charlotte Harbor has two atmospheric monitors, but those don’t monitor water behavior, nor produce real time data.

Atmosphere monitor
An atmosphere monitor in Charlotte Harbor.

Chase said he and Tryder are pushing for more advanced monitors to be placed in the harbor like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) which provides “real-time oceanographic data and other navigation products to promote safe and efficient navigation within U.S. waters.”

“There’s a lot of people that could benefit from the use of this,” said Chase. “It would benefit everyone to be able to look at that data before they go out. Other areas have these federal information buoys, why don’t we have one? Maybe we should look at what it would take for us to get one.”

Orenczuk got in contact with Chris DiVeglio, a Maritime Services Program Manager with NOAAwho runs the PORTS program to ask why Charlotte Harbor has not been equipped with an updated monitor.

“When it comes to concentrating areas of gauging it usually comes from local needs, or people coming to us to sort of share their user defined needs,” DiVeglio explained. “So, they could choose to work with NOAA or work with an experienced contractor to get gauging installed that will meet their needs.”

Chris DiVeglio
Chris DiVeglio speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

DiVeglio said if a collective of Charlotte Harbor boaters, or the county, or anyone else who wanted to install additional monitors would have to come up with funding.

“There is a cost share aspect to this,” said DiVeglio. “So if there was a contingency of folks around Charlotte Harbor, they would work with us and they would provide the funding for the equipment, and of course the installation and eventual operation and maintenance work. So, that's a conversation my team can have with anyone that’s interested.”

Chase said he would explore funding options to hopefully have a real time monitor installed.