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How to Mark Your Mooring Spot over Winter

QUESTION: As I moor my boat in a northern state where the water freezes in the winter, how would you suggest to mark the mooring to find it in the spring?

ANSWER: Although I will explain what has successfully worked for me, it would be interesting to receive other suggestions on this subject—so feel invited to use the questionnaire ;-)
In a marina where there are many such moorings, I have seen owners link all the underwater mooring chains together and then drop the connecting point down with a white partly-flooded plastic container attached to it, so that it's partly visible on a quiet day once the ice has gone.

I have tried several different systems to have a marker that was still visible on the surface but none of them proved reliable year after year. If the ice is thick then most buoys risk to get ripped away and lost. The best was a vertical tube of black plastic hose that was weighted with the bottom half filled with cement. Two stainless steel hose clips attached a shackle and a sturdy line went down to the anchor chain. By being black, the sun would heat the surface just enough to free up the ice around the vertical pipe and it would slip free when the ice moved off. That worked fine for several years until a snowmobile sheared off the top and it was no longer visible in the spring! In a quiet area with little ice movement, a floating wheel and tire has also worked ok as a buoy—again with the black tire getting enough heat to free itself from the ice in the spring.

Overall, I find the best solution is to prepare a line of say ½" polypropylene (the yellow stuff that floats) and lash on a 4" length of foam tubing of about 3" diameter, like they use for some floating toys. Make the length at least 2 ft less than the water depth at time of freezing and bend [tie] on a sturdy bronze snap hook at the bottom, to snap into a link of your regular mooring chain. When making a knot with polypropylene, be sure you make an extra hitch at the end and then lash it down or pass a long end back through one of the 3 strands. Until it's 'taken the form' of the knot, this fibre has a great tendancy to come undone, but we need its unique ability to float in this case. By passing the upper end through the short length of foam tubing, you'll form a loop that will float just a couple of feet below the surface in the spring. If you then have a light pole with a simple hook on it, it will be easy to fish it up when you're ready. I use one of bamboo and it's worked well for me for over 15 years. (See photo).

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