Moorings Soft Side


buoys from island mooring systems

Photos courtesy of Island Mooring Supplies

Every decade or so, local sailing clubs go through a re-evaluation of their mooring fields, looking for ways to improve or upgrade equipment without straining their budget. Island Mooring Supplies, the same Rhode Island-based company that introduced the splinter-free Deluxe Pickup Stick we featured in the April 2010 issue, has developed a new, soft mooring buoy designed to put an end to the annoying hull-knocking of conventional mooring buoys.

pvc pipe bonded to sailboat buoy

Photos courtesy of Island Mooring Supplies

The short, can-shaped buoy is made of closed-cell foam bonded to a UV-resistant, schedule 40 (or higher) PVC pipe that runs through the buoys center. The foam has a lower moisture vapor absorption rate than other flotation foams, so it absorbs less water during long-term immersion, according to the maker. The entire buoy is covered with a durable coating that also helps prevent water absorption. The buoy is available in four different sizes, each of which is capable of accepting mooring chain up to 5/8 of an inch, with half-inch chain as an option.

Until recently, the Island Mooring Supplies buoy was available only to sailing clubs at rates starting at about $80 each (for bulk orders); current customers include Larchmont Yacht Club in New York and Stamford and Norotan yacht clubs. This spring, the company is testing the waters on individual orders, which will range from $100 to $400 per buoy, depending on size; sizes range from 20 inches by 16 inches up to 30 inches by 18 inches. The buoy has a one-year warranty. The company also sells mooring pendants, chains, and swivels. We will be long-term testing one of the smaller buoys to see how well it holds up. If theres any news worth reporting, well let you know.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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