Galway buoy tweets out meteorological data for Volvo Ocean Race finals

18 Jun 2012

The Galway Buoy in situ in Galway Bay

A special buoy that can harness the power of Twitter has been installed in Galway Bay for the final leg of the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race that the city is hosting in July.

The buoy has been kitted out with meteorological and oceanographic sensors and has started tweeting out data automatically to give people insights into sea and weather conditions in Galway Bay in the lead up to the finals of the global sailing race.

Galway last hosted a stopover during the 2009 Volvo Ocean Race. This year, the city won out over 81 competing cities around the globe to host the end of the offshore race. Around 600,000 visitors are expected to descend upon the City of the Tribes for the finish of the race and for the festival in the city between 30 June and 8 July.

The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL), the Marine Institute, Techworks Marine, SmartBay Ireland and the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) have pooled their resources for the @GalwayBuoy project. The buoy itself is in a position to tweet via its automatic identification system (AIS) and GSM networks.

Tweets are apparently being written up from the point of view of the buoy, in an attempt to engage the public.

The buoy was deployed into Galway Bay last Thursday to coincide with the launch of the Ocean Wealth Showcase that will be taking place in the Global Village in Galway during the Volvo Ocean Race.

It had been onboard the CIL’s navigation vessel the ILV Granuaile since April. The ICT department in CIL had been building a presence using the Galway Buoy theme on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The CIL said the pilot project will be aiming to exploit social media, and its appeal to the next generation of mariner.

Here’s a sampling of what @GalwayBuoy was tweeting about earlier today:



Apparently, the buoy is the largest one of its kind in the CIL’s inventory, with a bowl weight of 6.8 tonnes and a tail tube of 2.7 tonnes. It has a range of nine nautical miles and runs on a 12V, 1950Ah battery. The buoy also has 12V, 50W, self-regulating solar panels.

In order to glean oceanographic data, three separate sensors have been installed on the buoy. For example, the CIL AANDERAA sensors will be measuring average wind speed, direction, gust speed, visibility, wave height and wave period. Techworks Marine is behind the buoy’s Airmar sensors that will measure air temperature and barometric pressure. Meanwhile, the Marine Institute/Smartbay WQM sensors are measuring water temperature and salinity.

The buoy will also tweet updates on the Volvo Ocean Race and information on the onshore festival events.

If you are around Galway for the Volvo Ocean Race finals, or the sustainability conference on 5 July and want to catch a glimpse of the tweeting buoy, it is positioned south of Mutton Island in Galway Bay.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic