The basic anchor buoy is often simply an old foam filled tire with some sort of strong attachment ring on top, but smart skippers approach unknown buoys with caution and skepticism.
This list of dos and don'ts are suggestions, and observations, not rules, and may not apply to your boat, your gear, or your crew.
- Anchor buoys may not be in deep water, in fact you may run aground on approach.
- Don't bang into buoys, they may have sharp edges, and gel coat slashing barnacles.
- Many buoys (most in my opinion) have large amounts of plant life growing and trailing from them.
- Some buoys have abandoned lines tied to them, ready to foul your rudders and propellers.
- You can't stand on them, they won't support your weight, even for just a second while you grab the ring.
- Buoy components corrode and break and then they float loose, it is a fact! Seaweed might be all that is holding it together.
- Therefore backing down on a buoy, just like setting an anchor, is a good idea.
Tips based upon my experiences:
- Approach buoys dead slow from down wind and current, and off to one side.
- Check it out - make sure there are no long trailing lines or bits of flotsam hanging in the buoys wake.
- Match your rpm's to the current and wind so your boat is stationary next to it before moving over.
- If your boat has low freeboard, have your crew reach the ring and thread a line through it and back to a cleat. Don't tie fast to the buoy or use a snap hook or shackle or biner, you want to be able to release it from the boat, possibly in an emergency. Use a heavy line, it will chafe at the ring.
- Is your line already tied at the other end?
- Is your crew wearing a pfd?
- Make sure the crew cleats the line before you release your helm control, the current or wind may be more than they can hold by hand.
- If your boat has high freeboard, instruct crew to use your boat hook to snag the ring, but make sure you are holding stationary.
- Many anchor buoys are designed with a lifting ring and chain that you may pull up several feet out of the water enabling you to slip a line through. Sometimes lifting a heavy chain is a two man job.
- If enough seaweed is growing (attached) on the chain, it may be impossible to lift the ring, even with ten crew.
- WARNING - If the skipper leaves the helm to help, allowing the boat to drift with the current, they still may not be able to lift the ring or hold against the current.
- The boat hook may get pulled from their hands or not be possible to easily unhook for a retry. This results in losing the hook as soon as the buoy is grabbed - another good reason for having a floating hook and wearing pfd's.
- You may also pull the boat hook apart or break off the end.
- Most boats have lower freeboard in the cockpits than up on a high bow and simply grabbing the ring from the cockpit may be all that's required.
- But, watch out when working from stern!
- The boat will be much harder to control, you may tangle with propellers and rudders. Once hooked, the boat will likely spin in the wind and current increasing difficulty and strain on lines.
- Do not treat anchor buoys like fixed docks or floats. They are simple to use, but can bite the unwary.
- Lastly - don't forget that the anchor buoy has its own anchor and rode that you could tangle with, especially if you set your own hook nearby.
|White with blue band is the official anchor buoy marking.