Monday, August 1, 2011

What is a Mooring Buoy?

A friend's question has inspired me to answer this question for all of you.

A mooring buoy is, in Al's words, 'a pre-installed anchoring system'. We find them in areas that may have limited dock space, or in harbors where anchoring should be avoided (Mystery Bay is home to sensitive oyster beds).

While generally placed in safe places, you should first verify that YOUR boat will have enough depth at low tides, and have enough room to 'swing' without hitting other boats. We had hoped to use a buoy at Hope Island near Deception Pass, but were nervous of it's distance from shore, and went to a float at the state Park instead. Locals there told us that had been a wise decision!

More than one boat can use a mooring buoy, if small enough, and if the boats agree. We are big enough that we need to be the only boat on the buoy. We have used State Park buoys and a few placed by the DNR (Dept of Natural Resources). Private buoys should only be used with permission from the owner. We have purchased a yearly parks pass for Viking Star, so we need only to register when we use a park buoy.

While a dock is usually our preferred station--easy access to shore and the steadiest moorage--we realize that Viking Star takes quite a bit of room. Three small fishing boats could tie in the same space that we take. We do try to be considerate of others.

Using a mooring buoy or anchoring both require using the dinghy if we wish to make a trip to shore. When we are using the dinghy more frequently, we can tow it behind Viking Star. It is a bit of effort to take it off and put it back on it's station on the cabin roof, but shore trips can definitely be worth it!

An empty mooring buoy at Pelican Beach, Cypress Island

The boat on the left is at a mooring buoy, the boat most on the right is at anchor.  Click on the photo to make it bigger...

Viking Star attached to a mooring buoy

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