Buoy recommendations: shape, size and sources

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Joined:23 Nov 2003, 23:01
Location:CAN 62
Buoy recommendations: shape, size and sources

Post by cfwahl » 30 Apr 2007, 03:00

Our club needs a new set of buoys, and I want us to do this right. In the past we've had a sort of rigid PVC pipe canister, surrounded by styrofoam donuts that can slide up and down on the canister; these get filthy, and in my opinion are too complicated.

I've seen spherical, apparently inflatable, buoys in pictures from major events; and a page on Lester Gilbert's site has a recommendation for these too.

So, I'd like some input:

Is spherical the way to go?

If so, is a simple sphere sufficient, or is there any reason to have a pole out the top, like the ones in photos of the Mooloolaba World Champs?

How about size? Recommendations on Lester Gilbert's site are for starting/finishing buoys from 200-500 mm diameter, and course buoys no larger than half the mast height. The buoys at Mooloolaba look a bit underscaled to my eye - perhaps 250 mm diameter. What do others think.

There's a company here in the USA called Polyform who makes durable inflatable buoys and fenders (the latter sausage-shaped). Does anyone have experience with these, or ones like them? Their spherical buoys come in eight or nine diameters. These are used for fishing and the like, so I have to assume that their air-tightness over time is fairly reliable.

How about color? Is there any advantage in having buoys at different positions be different colors? The recommendation on Lester Gilbert's site suggests avoiding red and green, and using red or blue.

Any ideas on the best stuff to use for cordage and weights? I have some ideas, but am open to suggestions.

Thanks in advance for any advice/experience/opinions.
Charles Wahl

Ralph Knowles
Joined:23 Nov 2003, 22:51
Location:Dundee, Scotland, GBR1876/ GBR 2182/GBR 2167/GBR 1907/GBR 3367

Post by Ralph Knowles » 30 Apr 2007, 12:17

Hi Charles,

Polyform 'A' series are the best IMHO but stay clear of the bright/fluoroescent colours. 15" or 18"are about right. Try the blue, black, maroon or even white and paint on four vertical constrasting stripes (easier to see a contact at a distance). Now the following depends on the available water depth.
Set them up with 1/4" (8mm) cordage by splicing a foot long pennant below the bouy (soft eye to bouy and hard eye on free end). attach a suitable anchor weight (10kg) to a suitable length of cordage (1 1/2 times the water depth) and bring the cord up from the 'bottom', through the hard eye and back down to a half depth where another weight, 3kg, is attached.
Dont go down the road of poles and flags. They look pretty but get caught up in rigging too easily and you will not be forgiven easily. We have a couple at our club that are used by the fast electric guys and they are both, the wrong colour, and have pretty flags. Grrrrr.
The pennant prevents a keel from being trapped between the two vertical cords in the event of an entanglement.
This set up allows the cordage to be vertical at all times no matter the variation in water depth.
If you intend marking each bouy with a number or letter then make the mark the same size as the sail numbers on the classes being sailed at the club. This enables the course setter to adjust the course so that from the control area, if he/she can read the bouy markings, then the competitors can see the sail markings and calls to others for water rights etc. can be made accurately.

Hope the above pointers will be of some use


Bring on the Breeze!


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