British sailor ponders U.S. penchant for mooring buoys

To the editor: I was intrigued by John Allis’ recent description of his all-chain mooring (Florida hurricane mooring Issue 143, Jan./Feb. 2005).

I do have a question, however: Why have a mooring buoy in only 7 feet of water? A pick-up buoy with a 10-foot tether would suit just as well. Using this approach the chain then lies on the bottom until hauled in. The only thing to remember when putting together such a setup is that the tether should have enough strength to handle the way of the vessel on pick-up.

I had just such an all-chain mooring half a century ago on the north side of the Thames Estuary, in 2 fathoms at high tide. That shore is open to a 7-mile fetch SE/SW.

On arriving in New England I was surprised to see large and small yachts tethered by line(s) to a mooring buoy secured to the root by chain, in moderate depths. Indeed, my present mooring in Rockland Harbor conforms to the New England convention. It has twin elegant and expensive tethers that love to wind round the chain under the mooring buoy — and that chafe. At high-tide there is about the same 2 fathoms of water as I had in the U.K. — but the root is 4,000 lbs of granite instead of an oak cross buried in Thames Estuary mud.

I have tentatively suggested “all-chain and pick-up buoy only” to locals but get only strange looks in return.

– Ivan Hills lives in Rockland, Maine, and sails his Vineyard Vixen 30 in Penobscot Bay. Now 76, he has sailed in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

By Ocean Navigator