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Hilton Head’s big red buoy has finally gone

After Irma, stranded buoy becomes new Hilton Head landmark

Hilton Head Island gained a temporary landmark after Tropical Storm Irma: a giant red buoy that previously guided ships into the Port Royal Sound. Visitors and residents alike have flocked to Coligny Beach to take photographs with the buoy. Here are some of the best reader photos.
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Hilton Head Island gained a temporary landmark after Tropical Storm Irma: a giant red buoy that previously guided ships into the Port Royal Sound. Visitors and residents alike have flocked to Coligny Beach to take photographs with the buoy. Here are some of the best reader photos.

Alas, the day many Hilton Head residents hoped would never come has arrived— the big red buoy was moved today.

Starting at around 1 p.m. Wednesday the buoy was lifted onto a flat-bed truck by two tow trucks before being driven off of the beach around 2:30 p.m.

The 13,000-pound buoy appeared on South Forest Beach like a big, red, very heavy beach toy after Tropical Storm Irma. It didn’t take long for residents and visitors to become attached. It served as a jungle gym for some, an essential photo op spot for visitors and even as the backdrop for a wedding.

For the last few weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard has promised its removal. Last week, a contractor loaded the buoy onto a flat-bed truck before taking it off again and putting it back on the beach. According to Art Smith, the Bluffton contractor hired by the U.S. Coast Guard to remove the buoy, the contractor didn’t feel comfortable the buoy was secure enough.

Tommy Burrows, owner of Tommy’s Towing in Bluffton, was put in charge of the job. He used an 18-wheel truck to get the buoy off the beach and transport it to the Coast Guard station in Charleston.

So sadly, we say one final farewell to buoy #8.

You may soon be gone, but you are unlikely to be forgotten.

Maggie Angst: 843-706-8137, @maggieangst

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