Marine Buoys and Fenders Explained
Buoy types defined:
Mooring Buoys - The function of a mooring buoy is to support the mooring chain and to serve as the marker for a specific mooring. Mooring buoys are available in several designs. The two most popular types are the traditional mooring buoy and the center tube style buoy.
The traditional mooring buoy features a hard shell exterior filled with closed-cell foam for flotation. The two halves of the buoy are held together with galvanized steel rods and rings. The mooring chain and pendant (pennant) are attached to the bottom shackle ring only. Nothing is attached to the top ring as this ring is only to be used to retrieve the mooring ball with a boat hook for service.
The center tube mooring buoy also features a hard shell exterior filled with closed-cell foam for flotation. This center tube style mooring ball is designed so that the mooring chain passes completely through the tube and connects to a heavy duty top shackle. This style of buoy typically will have a heavy duty galvanized steel collar inserted into the top of the buoy. This collar protects the buoy from anchor chain wear. The advantage of the center tube buoy design is that all components subject to wear are easily visible for inspection.
A properly designed mooring system will secure a boat so that it can be left safely unattended for days at a time. A mooring system typically features a mooring buoy (to float the chain), a mooring anchor and a length of chain (running between the anchor and the mooring buoy). Suitable, heavy duty shackles and swivels would complete the ground tackle assembly.
EXAMPLES: Cal-June; Taylor Made
A Sully Stick is a long tapered buoy used to replace a standard mooring ball during the winter season. The Sully Stick has a molded in eyelet at the top for easy retrieval at the start of the boating season. The base of the sully stick is typically attached to a rope and then connected to an anchor chain. The long shape of this special purpose buoy is better suited for freezing winter weather service.
EXAMPLES: Taylor Made
Mast Buoys - Mast mooring buoys, also know as pick-up buoys or flag buoys, are attached with a line to your mooring pendant. A long fiberglass mast extends from the center of the float makes it easy to retrieve your mooring line without the use of a boat hook. Many boaters add a flag to the mast to make it easier for them to spot their own mooring. A lead counter weight keeps the mast upright. Scuba divers use mast buoys to mark their diving location.
EXAMPLES: Newport Marine; Taylor Made
Life Ring Buoys - The traditional life ring is typically a hard shell, throwable buoyant life saving device. Ring buoys are usually stored on deck attached to a rail, on a bulkhead or other readily accessible space. Special life ring brackets are available to simplify installation and to speed deployment. A retrieval line made be added to to the buoy to facilitate the victim recovery process.
EXAMPLES: Cal-June; Taylor Made
Regulatory and Marker Buoys - These special purpose buoys are available in a wide variety of styles, colors and shapes. Available in spar, cone, can or nun shape many buoys feature a pickup eye on top and a swivel base. Special buoy labels make it easy to customize buoys with a specific warning messages; OBSTRUCTION, NO ANCHORING, HAZARD, NO SWIMMING and many more.
Fender Types and Styles:
The primary job of a boat fender is to protect the boat hull from damage when secured to docks, piers and from contact with other watercraft. The majority of the high quality fenders available today are of the inflatable type which provides excellent protection and a ability to adjust the internal pressure to suit different applications.
Cylinder shaped fenders - are available in three basic configurations:
Center Rope Fenders - feature a center rope hole that runs lengthwise through the fender. This style of inflatable fender provides the flexibility to be hang vertically or horizontally as needed. The center rope design is most often found on fenders used for larger craft.
EXAMPLES: Polyform HTM; Taylor Made Big B;
Double Eye Fenders - have loops molded at each end that provide attachment points for fender lines. This style of inflatable fender may also be hung vertically or horizontally. This style of fender is typically smaller and lest expensive than center rope models. Available in white and a variety of colors.
EXAMPLES: Polyform G-series; Taylor Made Tuff End, Super Gard, Hull Gard, Econo
Single Eye Fenders - are the simplest in construction and an economical inflatable fender. They are designed to be hung in a vertical orientation only. This style of fender is generally for smaller craft.
Round Fenders - are often used on larger craft particularly those with deeply concave bows. Commercial boats often use white or orange, round fenders as rugged, simple buoys or fenders.
EXAMPLES: Polyform A-series; Taylor Made Tuff End
Specialty Fenders - are designed for specific applications. Examples would be Personal Watercraft (PWC) Fenders; Pontoon Boat Fenders; and flat Fender Cushions.
Fender Accessories - include Fender Covers, pre-cut Fender Lines, Fender Hangers, Locks and Adjusters, as well as stainless steel Fender Holders. Fabric Fender Covers provide UV protection for the vinyl fender exterior, additional cushioning for the boat hull and the option to color coordinate fenders to match other boat accessories. A small manual air pump is a useful tool to have aboard when there is a need to inflate fenders or other inflatable items.
Marine Buoy and Fender Resources
Chapman Book of Piloting and Seamanship - 66th Edition, by Charles Husick, is the essential guide for power and sail boaters. Chapman features an extensive chapter describing the requirements of safe mooring systems for recreational vessels. In addition, there is a detailed writeup of how to approach and leave a mooring as well as proper docking procedures.