The one-time runaway U.S. Coast Guard buoy is anchored in a beautiful marshside town park on London Avenue.
There, the imposing sight captures the town spirit — and honors fallen police officers across America.
As the large Buoy No. 8 that washed up near Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island during Tropical Storm Irma on Sept. 11 is prepared for removal, the buoy of Port Royal remains on solid ground with quite a story to tell.
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It’s called the “Traveling Buoy.”
A marker at its base tells why:
“On or about April 20, 1970, this buoy broke from its mooring in Port Royal Sound and traveled 6,000 miles to Scotland.
“One year and one day later it was observed off the coast of Scotland and towed by a British ship to port. The buoy was returned to Charleston in late 1973 at a cost of $92.00. The buoy was returned to Port Royal by the Port Royal Clay Company.
“In June 1992, the buoy was placed in the Fraternal Order of Police Memorial Park on London Avenue, where its light is kept burning in commemoration of all fallen police officers in the United States.”
On Hilton Head, the big red buoy instantly became a public attraction, with people lining up to have their pictures taken with it. A couple even got married there.
But it did not travel far — about 8 miles. And the Coast Guard immediately made plans to come get it and return it to its duty. It serves as an aid navigation in about the same area that Port Royal’s “Traveling Buoy” once worked.