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Buoy oh Buoy!


It’s been a while since I shared another adventure in the mountains with its joys and sorrows. Well today’s events qualify for another True Life Story at my expense. Here’ s the story:

As many of you know, we live on a lake. Right on the lake with 150 feet of waterfront that includes a dockhouse, pier, floating dock, and 50 feet of concrete launch ramp. Of the 12 lots on the water, there are houses on five, dockhouses on two, so 7/10 properties in use on, in and around the water. We are at the widest part of the lake and pretty much in the middle, so a lot of activity on weekends. To keep boats from getting too close to our shore with boats and jet skis and kids in the water we have several “NO WAKE” buoys about 100 feet from shore.


The buoys are hard plastic about six foot tall and as big around as a frying pan. The bottom is filled with about two feet of concrete to keep them floating upright with a metal hook at the bottom to tie an anchor line on. We leave them in year-round and some stick around while some float away, usually beached on our shore. The winters are brutal on Mt. Storm Lake, and winds can top 70 mph with four foot waves. Floating docks are removed, buoys have to fend for themselves. This year we lost two, found one and purchased two new ones. The idea is to loop a ½ inch braided nylon rope through the metal hook on the bottom of the buoy, and with 30-35 of rope loop the other end through the holes in two concrete blocks for an anchor. To keep the rope from fraying it is fed through ¾ inch plastic hose that is then fed through the blocks.

The challenge is how to get the buoys (which weigh about 80 pounds), 35 feet of rope looped through two heavy concrete blocks, off the shore and 100 feet out to protect the residents. No one wants to volunteer to use their fancy shmancy boats to carry cinder blocks, and last year I almost sunk my little 10 foot aluminum boat trying to toss the two blocks off the side. So this year I came up with a plan.

The Plan

This winter one of floats fell off my floating dock. Rusted bolts it appears. So here was this foot deep five foot by five foot black plastic float just sitting on the drive next to the dock waiting to be reattached. I had an “A-ha moment”. Why not set the two blocks on the float, and well…float it out to the launch area. I would command the towboat, my kayak. There would be a rope tied to the kayak attached to the black float with the two concrete blocks on board and 35 feet behind, the buoy. I gathered all the parts, got everything tied and knotted and floated the float and buoy (I thought). I stumbled into the kayak, the smoothest craft on the water, as stable as a bowling ball on a skateboard in the shallows. I started padding and didn’t seem to be making any progress. I looked back and discovered the buoy was still on the ramp, NOT floating as it were. What was I to do but double back and pull the buoy out into deeper water. Now….mind you, I had boat shoes on, and my blue jeans rolled up half way to my knees, and t-shirt and undies. I had not planned on getting any more than my feet wet. So much for that theory.


In order to float the buoy I had to get OUT of the Kayak. As I explained previously getting IN to the Kayak I stumbled with the help of gravity. Aim your butt towards the flimsy seat and let her fly. Getting out requires some upper body strength and dexterity to manage the half in/half out moment when one foot is in the kayak and one on terra firma. I got in the half & half mode, and had the unfortunate experience of the kayak floating one way with one foot still inside while my other foot was on the concrete ramp. I started a split then slipped and over I went. I landed on my elbow which took issue with the tissue loss, and then on my right side into the water. It was only six inches deep, but enough to soak me through and through, jeans, undies, t-shirt. I’d fallen, but did manage to get up.

I moved the kayak to where I could remount after I freed the buoy from the lake bottom. I was already wet so what the heck? I pulled the buoy off the concrete ramp and into the deeper water and getting back in the kayak paddled out to the drop zone. I lined it up with another buoy and pulling the plastic float reached over, tipped the blocks over and into the drink PLUNK. Done.


Back to shore for #2. I managed to get out and back into the kayak, concrete blocks in place with tube and ropes looped through and buoy sitting at the end of the concrete ramp in about two feet of water. I got in the kayak and paddled like crazy. Once again I was getting nowhere fast. I paddled harder… faster. That’s when I heard it. PLUNK! The sound of two concrete blocks falling into the water. Right in front of my pier about 100 feet short of the drop zone. I paddled back, got out to see what the issue was. The buoy apparently found the one rock on the lake bottom and decided to plant itself on the wrong side. I was already wet, and well beyond cold (so determined and task oriented was I) so I waded into waist high water grabbed that GD buoy and dragged it out until it floated. I then pulled the blocks back in (out of four foot deep water onto the ramp) then pulled the black plastic float back to place the blocks back in place. Gave it a shove, remounted the kayak and like paddling Madalyn pulled my little floatilla of kayak, float and buoy out to sea. Took me about 15 minutes to get to the second drop zone, sighted the other buoys and shoved the anchors off the bottom heading for the bottom. PLUNK.


Freed from one reluctant passenger (the buoy…oh boy) I returned to shore, secured the kayak, dragged the float back to the dock on the driveway, and the kayak back up the hill to the rack where I returned it to its storage .

Oh…the third buoy? I left it in the back of the pickup, grabbed the concrete blocks and drove over to a neighbor’s property (the last one in the line of lots) and off-loaded the blocks, rope and buoy. He’ll figure out what to do with it. I am done. Hey! I’m 73 and shouldn’t be doing any of this horse shit, so when I say I’m done. Believe me.


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