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Old 07-31-2012, 04:48 PM   #1
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Private mooring buoy question

We are looking at a property that has the possibility of installing a permenant mooring buoy. This would be in fresh water, but have lock access to the Puget Sound. We will probably never be able afford direct waterfront with a dock in the Seattle area, but this would be close. There would be a community dock where we could bring the boat in to load passengers/stuff.

What are the pros and cons of this type of set up?
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:55 PM   #2
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There are a number of private mooring buoys at the small island in the San Juans where we have property. Of course, these are in salt water so have different problems than a similar setup in fresh water. We use one of these buoys when we visit the island.

In terms of using them, there are no cons that I can think of other than having to dinghy to shore instead of stepping to a dock. We like riding free as opposed to bumping up against a dock.

The cons if you want to consider them as such have to do with inspection and maintenance. In salt water the buoy line/chain arrangement should be inspected by a diver who knows what he's looking at every year if possible. At the first sign of deterioration of any component of the anchor line, it should be replaced.

Carey and I broke a buoy line at the island the other year when we were rafted to it and the wind came up---- the upper link of the galvanized chain had worn and rusted to the point where it broke, releasing the shackle and the short stainless chain that connected the galvanized anchor chain to the mooring buoy. The buoy had recently been inspected by a diver friend of the owner but the diver had obviously not closely checked the condition of the chain.

The moral here is to make sure everything---- anchor and anchor line/chain--- is sized and strong enough to hold your boat in any winds you can anticipate with a significant safety factor. In the case I mentioned above, it was the two boats jerking on the chain in the waves that the wind humped up that exceeded the remaining strength of the chain link. Had the same wind come from another direction where it would not have pushed up waves, the weakened chain probably would have held us.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
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There are a number of private mooring buoys at the small private island in the San Juans where we have property. Of course, these are in salt water so have different problems than a similar setup in fresh water. We use one of these buoys when we visit the island.

In terms of using them, there are no cons that I can think of other than having to dinghy to shore instead of stepping to a dock.

The cons if you want to consider them as such have to do with inspection and maintenance. In salt water the buoy line/chain arrangement should be inspected every year if possible. Carey and I broke a buoy line at the island when we were rafted to it and the wind came up---- the upper link of the galvanized chain had worn and rusted to the point where it broke, releasing the shackle and the short stainless chain that connected the anchor chain to the mooring buoy.

The moral here is to make sure everything---- anchor and anchor line/chain--- is sized and strong enough to hold your boat in any winds you can anticipate with a significant safety factor. In the case I mentioned above, it was the two boats jerking on the chain in the waves that the wind humped up that exceeded the remaining strength of the chain link. Had the same wind come from another direction where it would not have pushed up waves, the weakened chain probably would have held us.

Its obviously fresh water... and a completely new install... I need to get an answer/info from DNR, but their website is horribly slow wherever I have tried it.
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:03 PM   #4
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Even in fresh water the buoy should be checked periodically, although I would think the interval would be much longer between inspections. Is it the DNR who has jurisdiction over what goes in the lake? I've been under the impression that every government agency who can claim a reason has a hand in determining what goes on in the lake, from city councils to the EPA. In the case of the mooring bouys at our island, most of them sort of "appeared" at one time or another. But to do it legally, a state permit is required.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:25 PM   #5
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In Sydney and throughout Australia, there are many boats on swing moorings. The obvious disadvantages are no electricity and inconvenient access.
We get a license from the Maritime authority, for an annual fee, to lay mooring apparatus in a particular spot. There is an obligation to pay for, maintain, and if the license ceases,remove the apparatus. The whole mooring, block included, needs lifting annually to check and renew parts as necessary. Things definitely wear out, a lot happens unseen underwater (like with a duck paddling).I doubt salt or fresh water changes that, it`s more a question of movement.
Maritime, and boat insurers, require you maintain the mooring annually, you should anyway.Mooring contractors do this for a relatively modest charge and send their customers annual reminders. BruceK
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:34 PM   #6
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Bruce brings up a major point I had overlooked. I was thinking of mooring buoys as short term moorings, which is how we use them. But for long term the lack of power and water could be an issue. Solar panels or a wind generator could solve the keep-the-batteries-charged issues, however.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:36 PM   #7
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2 Years ago in Stuart they were doing inspections and flagged 2 of the morings for repair, Next day they replaced the chain and choker i ask the marine SunSet Cove handled it all since it was a private field. The Harbor master told me they service them jan and Aug. The ones that were replaced looked pretty darn good to me untill the upper part of the chain. I am sure state to state might vary with rules on inspections !
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:55 AM   #8
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"We like riding free as opposed to bumping up against a dock.

And the privacy!!!

An other advantage is the boat usually faces the breeze , so while on board the ventilation is excellent. Open ports vs dockside canned air? no contest.

A single 85W solar and Trace C 10 charge controller has worked well for us for many years . But we have few DC loads as the fridge is propane .

Solar for a house fridge would be ineffective , but for an alt energy designed fridge (Sunfrost or equal) 4 panels would work.

Steve Dashew sells a recording thermometer on his site , so a defrost from no sun followed by a re-freeze could be found.

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Old 08-01-2012, 10:21 AM   #9
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I have had a few moorings installed here in the PNW, where I am I need a county permit, DNR permit. We typically use the helical screw moorings if the bottom allows.. they really hold and the entire assembly is galvanized. I would think the army corps of engineers may have a say on the lakes in Seattle also. Here the only real negative to long term moorings is the birds love to use them as a roost / bathroom.
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:25 AM   #10
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One con would be the innitial cost of the mooring.
There are many typs of anchors from the helical screw as mentioned by Hollywood to cement blocks. This will depend on the type of bottom. Then of course the cost of chain or line from the anchor to what ever you will be using as a float. These are available commercially. then the Pendant.

Depending on the placement of the anchor by a diver and depth for the cost of chain. This can run into several thousand dollars for a proper set up.

Of corse you could always drop an old engine block and float a big chunk of styrofoam. depends on what is allowed.

If in salt water a permit from the Army Core of engineers may be required. As there are requirements and an environmental impact studys.

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Old 08-01-2012, 01:47 PM   #11
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Well we missed out. We did not get our offer in on time and the deal went away.

What it is a joint ownership of a waterfront dock/property in Kirkland. 7 homes own a dock. There is room for another mooring buoy and maybe a dock expansion. It would be the next best thing to being on the waterfront itself. We can't afford direct waterfront on Lake Washington.

After posting, I went back out to the property and spoke with one of the neighborhood people.. VERY VERY nice, gave me the full scoop. While we missed out on the first property, there is a possibility of another one. The waterfront community area has a sand beach and about a 50x80' grassy area for everyone's use.

Other than the two properties mentioned, the other houses in the neighborhood are 1 millon +...

The money saved from "free" place to keep a boat would be nice, as well as having the ability to walk to the boat. There is dinghy storage as well. So we wouldn't need to haul the dinghy to get to mooring buoy.

All in all a pretty good comprimise.
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:23 PM   #12
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The common system for a swing mooring here comprises a large concrete block sized to suit the vessel, with an eye moulded into it. To that eye is shackled heavy "ground chain" ,with lighter chain is shackled to it, a poly rope goes from the chain to a floating buoy. Some boats have a long pole (can be illuminated) on a float adjacent to the buoy so they can motor up to it and grab the pole without using a boathook, the pole is then taken aboard. Our mooring is set up with a bridle system, the line divides int 2 line so a line goes to the main cleat via each scupper. The boat sits better that way.
The scope for wear, especially between metal parts is obvious, annual maintenance is vital. You don`t want your pride and joy floating free after the mooring fails, crashing into other moored boats before it goes aground, especially if you`ve not maintained the mooring and the insurer won`t pay.
We have solar to maintain batteries. The main problem is no ready access to water, pump out, facilities etc; annual cost is less than one month on a marina dock.A hard dinghy is kept on the shore.The truly wealthy(or heavily mortgaged) have a pontoon off their waterfront garden.
The "screw" system is only found in ecologically sensitive areas by National Parks and Wildlife for their free 24 hour only moorings. BruceK
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:29 PM   #13
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I looked into a mooring and around here, a permit is required from the Army Corps of Engineers. I called and they sent me a 27 page form to fill out. I didn't do it.

I suspect most moorings around here are just installed at night with no permit. I suspect they would fail an inspection as well.
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:58 AM   #14
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Is it the DNR who has jurisdiction over what goes in the lake? I've been under the impression that every government agency who can claim a reason has a hand in determining what goes on in the lake, from city councils to the EPA.
You are pretty much right on Marin. Here is how it goes in freshwater lakes in Washington:

Washington Department of Ecology contols the water in the lake. (Water Right law, also deals with hazardous waste spills)

Washington Department of Natural Resources owns and manages the bedlands of the lake. (Aquatic leasing of marinas etc.)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the fish and wildlife that are in and on the lake, also permits any construction work below mean high water line (Hydraulic Permits)

Local County government control the surface of the lake such as speed limit and horsepower limitations. Also permit hydro regattas etc.

Lake Management Districts form to assess themselves and their neighbors to improve conditions in their lake. (mostly control vegitation because their septic systems are failing.)

I'm sure I've left someone out but these are the major players.
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Old 08-02-2012, 01:32 AM   #15
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You are pretty much right on Marin. Here is how it goes in freshwater lakes in Washington:

Washington Department of Ecology contols the water in the lake. (Water Right law, also deals with hazardous waste spills)

Washington Department of Natural Resources owns and manages the bedlands of the lake. (Aquatic leasing of marinas etc.)

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the fish and wildlife that are in and on the lake, also permits any construction work below mean high water line (Hydraulic Permits)

Local County government control the surface of the lake such as speed limit and horsepower limitations. Also permit hydro regattas etc.

Lake Management Districts form to assess themselves and their neighbors to improve conditions in their lake. (mostly control vegitation because their septic systems are failing.)

I'm sure I've left someone out but these are the major players.
Don't forget "JARPA" to consolidate all those above into "one" stop shopping for a permit.

The DNR permitting looks reasonable, I am going to get some professional advice. There are a couple of other affordable properties that have this agreement. One is in foreclosure. Cheapest single family residence with direct access to Lake Washington and a place to put a boat... though not very big, probably under 30'
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:19 PM   #16
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A concrete block will work in non storm , non hurricane areas.

The problem is every so often the anchor must be lifted so the chain can be inspected renewed .

There is little problem in a tidal area to pull a 1000 or 1500lb mushroom by simply using a stern cleat and the tide.

In NY the tide is 6-7 ft so raising and dropping on the beach can frequently be done with a single tide.
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:07 PM   #17
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Tides are no problem as this is a fresh water lake with lock access to the puget sound. Lake Washington...

The army corps of engineers does vary the lake level by about 2-4' throughout the year. It does get choppy sometimes in the winter from the wind.

There are super duper strict regulations as well as my desire for not having any damage. The mooring setup would be professional installed 1000lb or bigger mushroom specfically cast to reduce the chance of the chain catching as well as a backup helical anchor. The state requires a periodic inspection, I believe every two years.

The mooring setup is the easy part.. The permission and permit is the hard part.
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Old 08-03-2012, 03:30 AM   #18
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My brother-in-law has a dock and mooring on Lake Washington. His neighbors on either side each have a mooring with 40'+ sailboats moored. My understanding is that it is easier to get permitted for a mooring than a dock nowadays with the concerns ovr shoreline issues for salmon habitat. The mooring is less destructive. My brother-in-law had to get a permit just to pull up his mooring and replace the hardware. .
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:43 AM   #19
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The mooring setup would be professional installed 1000lb or bigger mushroom specfically cast to reduce the chance of the chain catching as well as a backup helical anchor. The state requires a periodic inspection, I believe every two years.

might be cheaper in the long run to install an easily inspected setup.

Depending on the boat windage either 3 60H Danforths or 3 90H Danforths can be set 120 deg apart.

Far easier to inspect a 90 lb anchor annually than a lump of cast iron.

And when you are done you can use or sell the Danforths.
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