Thursday, June 13, 2019

Blocking Buoys

Port Madison
(Snatched from m/v Archimedes - hires version and a lot more information there)
When first we came to the San Juan Islands, one of our anchorages was Grindstone Harbor, a charming little cove on the south shore of Orcas Island.  Now that cove is filled with "mooring" buoys.

Our first  voyage in Eolian was to Port Madison, on the north shore of Bainbridge Island.  We had virtually the entire harbor to ourselves and our choice of anchoring spots.  But as the years progressed, more and more "mooring" buoys appeared.  And now the current situation (as shown in the picture above) is that there is essentially NO anchorage any more in Port Madison, unless you want to take your chances anchoring in the narrow channel still remaining for ingress and egress.

What has happened?  Well, first of all, nearly all of the buoys are perennially empty.   Then why are they there?

I cannot know in all cases of course, but I do know for absolute certainty (because I have talked to them) that there are those landowners who place buoys in front of their property in order to block boats from anchoring in "their" view.  Since these buoys are not intended to be used for mooring, they may be anchored with nothing more than a couple of concrete blocks.

In Rusty's blog, m/v Archimedes, there is a lot of information about what it takes to get actual legal permission to install a mooring buoy.  It ain't easy!  My guess is, that whatever their intended purpose, less than 10% of the buoys in the picture above are registered, legal buoys.  Even if they all were (ha!), Rusty raises the case for anchorage as a prior right.

So, what to do?

I have a suggestion.

Mooring tender in Friday Harbor

There are many outfits around the sound that install moorings.  Place a bounty on illegal, unsanctioned unoccupied buoys of, say, $300.  Further, allow the mooring tenders to keep the removed moorings and their anchors for later sale as legal moorings.  Kind of like towing companies get to tow your car if it is found abandoned along the freeway.

Now someone is sure to complain that the buoys should not be removed without notifying the owner.  Do you get a notification when your car is towed? NO.  And in any case, the illegal buoys are unmarked (or at best are marked "Private"), so ownership cannot be determined.

With this plan implemented, my guess is that within a year or two, most of the buoys would have been removed and their space returned to general anchorage usage.



Wallace Grommet said...

I grab an unoccupied buoy at Utsalady Bay, Langley Harbor, and wherever I find one when stopping late for an overnight moorage. Never been ejected yet! Much better than droanchor on potentially foul ground, and if someone doesn’t want to see boats then they need to sell their waterfront property. Boats are inherently interesting-homeowners, not so much. Your captcha is way too challenging! BTW!

Robert Salnick said...

For me, I fear to grab an unoccupied private buoy. Like I said, many of the "blocking" buoys are not intended for actual mooring, so they have homemade anchors that are just enough to keep the buoy from drifting away. I am afraid to trust my boat to a buoy that I know nothing about.

And as far as that goes, I have seen enough official Washington State park buoys broken loose and drifted ashore that I really don't trust them either. I trust *my* anchor and rode; it is inspected every time I pull the anchor.

Sorry about the Captcha difficulty level - I have no control over that.


Rick said...

This "I don't want to see a boat in front of my house" happens all over. Not sure I understand what drives this, although I assume it has something to do (ultimately) with the conceit that sometimes accompanies the money and power that may be required to own a waterfront place. These people always need a push back. Although to be fair, in some places there is a population of people who live on the hook in derelicts. This certainly is a problem, both for the "boaters" and the land owners. The challenge is to come up with a policy that prohibits derelicts, but doesn't restrict honest cruisers. The derelict dwellers also need a place to live, but having them park anywhere they want doesn't seem be the answer either.

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