Smart Buoys

The Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) is a trail guide and observing system developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the support of a host of partner organizations, including the Chesapeake Conservancy and the National Park Service.

CBIBS is a system of buoys placed along portions of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. These on-the-water platforms merge the modern technologies of cellular communications and internet-based information sharing. You can pull out your cell phone and dial up an interpretive buoy to get the latest report, near real-time, on weather and environmental conditions like wind speed, temperature, and wave height. Unlike John Smith, you know what’s ahead of you, and can decide on an alternative plan to strike out for a landfall closer to home – protected from the elements and sheltered from the growing waves on the Bay.

Not only do these “smart buoys” give you real-time wind and weather information, they can to tell you something about John Smith’s adventures during his 1608 voyage. The system provides voice narration—available via toll-free 877-BUOY-BAY or at this website—of natural and cultural history for the area you’re traveling through on the trail. Akin to “podcasts”- these vignettes let trail users and shore-side classrooms learn about the local history of these waterways, making the water trail a paddle through time as well as space.

See where the buoys are located and find out how to access both historic information and current weather conditions, here or download our Smartbuoy App to view the buoy’s realtime information from your smartphone.