Mooring Buoys

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Mooring How-To's

mooring maintenance and management

Mooring Management and Maintenance (Video)

Learn the proper processes in mooring management and maintenance, presented by Boating Local/New England Boating. ... read more



Video Transcript

[Tom]. Hi Tom Richardson for Boating Local. Today I’m in Mattapoisett Massachusetts at the Mattapoisett Boatyard to learn a few things about moorings. Now Mattapoisett Boatyard services some 500 moorings in and around the harbor. So it’s fair to say that they are experts on the subject. Today general manager Dave Kaiser and his crew are going to show us all the steps involved in maintaining and inspecting moorings to make sure that they are in perfect working order.

So Dave how long into the winter will you work on moorings typically?

[Dave]. Generally we’re finished in December. We try to have everything completely buttoned up by the middle of December, because it gets called out here.

[Tom]. And when do you start up again?

[Dave]. We will start up in March. Usually about the middle of March will start putting most of our moorings out and we won’t wrap it up until the middle of July. This is our mooring boat. We bought it about 30 years ago. At the time it was probably 20 years old. We have put a new button on it twice, rebuilt the old Detroit; it’s got an old Detroit Grey Marine 671 which dates back to 1952 if I’m not mistaken. We outfitted her with this crane. As I said the winch on the crane and the hydraulics are capable of picking up about 5000 pounds. Once you get to that….

[Other]. This morning we had to pull up 1000 pier that was all wrapped up and most of the hardware was just muck and it’s nasty. This comes with usually a lot of fun.

[Tom]. How many moorings, how many winter sticks can these guys put under an hour?

[Dave]. On average when they are working hard and nice flat conditions, they can do between 10 or 12 per hour. A good day, a record I think was 62 in one day, that was a good day.

[Other] All that was, it was definitely worn out. So that top section of half inch chain is being replaced now with a new chain.

[Tom] Yeah, show me like the worn section that you didn’t like.

[Dave] This is where it wears out. Each link just does this all day long, all night. And so this is what it’s supposed to look like. So this is about 50% of its original size.

[Tom]. So that’s when you would replace it.

[Dave]. So this would get replaced. Because one more season of this wear and tear, you don’t know, it could you know. You look at the link here, it’s really starting to wear thin in there. Typical mooring we would use half inch chain up to the surface. This is galvanized, we’ve been using galvanized and self-colored chains. Domestic chain is all 100% US steel virgin material. Foreign chain, who knows what the blend is with those different alloys, they wear out much much faster. We were lucky to get two years on half inch chains with the foreign chain where we typically get four years out of ours.

[Tom]. So it may be cheaper but you know you’re taking a risk here.

[Dave]. That’s right it’s just not worth it. And hey support America.

These are the winter sticks we’ve been using these are Taylor, built by Taylor. Down at the bottom is a molded eye. Into here and we put nylon. Just choke it to right into it. Obviously we check this every year. We take this rope that’s on here. We take, this is about 10 or 15 feet of nylon and then this attaches right to the chain so that then you put most of the chain on the bottom.

[Tom]. So the winter stick isn’t just to prevent ice damage to the ball. It’s actually to get the chain into the mud.

[Dave]. It gets the chain on the bottom. Puts it back on the bottom away from that wear point and so you can get at least two or three more years out of it. If that chain was suspended all winter long, that same wear point where the tidal zone is and where the boat is pulling on all the time is constantly being worn on the bottom, and it wears thin. So if you left that section right there, you might only get two years out of this.

[Tom]. Right because it’s still wearing on that same point you know for the next six month period.

[Dave]. Now also the winter stick you will see under the water they are tapered plastic sticks. We also use some wooden sticks, some people use PVC, logs in the old back in the 40s and 50s. But anyway they are tapered so that when ice forms around them as the ice flow moves, the winter stick just drops under the ice and it won’t carry the mooring away.

We bring the old grungy dirty line. This is the top of the line, it has a lot less growth. Down here it’s been lying in the water, it’s just grimy, messy you know slimy. And here is the buoy that comes up off the bottom you know the float off here. Even despite painting it, it still gets all this growth on here. Which then, so once we bring all these moorings in, everything needs to be washed, inspected. That’s good Mattapoisett mud.

So come here I want to show you where we keep all the mooring buoys. In this building restore mooring buoys in and amongst all the boats that we store indoors. In the end we’ll have obviously about 500 or so mooring balls in storage that during the winter we’ll pick each one of these up, we clean the bottom, prep it out, make sure it’s all ready to go and put new bottom paint on. And then come over here, we’ll re-letter the owner’s name on here and the mooring number, which is all part of this identification of each mooring system. And then stack them again when they are ready to go, we’ll divide them up by each region, by each area in the harbor where they go. So that in the spring we just pull each batch of buoys out and head out again.

Come into our mooring shop. So as you can see the mountain of nylon. Believe it or not there is organization here; it’s much more organized than it looks. It looks like a big heap but it’s really not. But they have to be gone through, sorted out, and checked out. We go through every one of these symbols. These swivels sometimes wear out. Wear of the shackles, see the wear right here on this swivel. This is still good but if it wears through much more than that, we’ll replace the swivel. Chafing on the chafe gears, on these bridles. We look for any of these floats that are getting old and cracked, this one probably has a few more years and it. And then of course we go and letter it; put more lettering paint on it. And make sure the floats again, that the mooring number is on every one of the floats.

[Tom]. Well thanks a lot Dave for walking us through the ins and outs of mooring maintenance and inspection. There is a lot more to it than a lot of people think right?

[Dave]. Sure is, it’s all about the right maintenance, the right equipment. I mean after all there’s a lot to protect. It’s a big investment out there on the water.

[Tom]. That’s right exactly. All it takes is one weak link right.

[Dave]. You got that right.

[Tom]. Well it’s good advice from Mattapoisett boatyard. I’m Tom Richardson for Boating Local. Thanks for watching.

For more how-to boating videos, as well as news and information on boating and fishing in New England, visit NewEnglandBoating.com. (Permission given by Tom Richardson.)
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