One of the few options that offers larger sizes meant for heavy watercraft in professional settings. Extra-thick material prevents air leakages or catastrophic failures.
May require a high-capacity electric pump to get up to the appropriate air-pressure level.
Large round shape for versatile use. Textured grip makes moving easy, even with wet hands. Grooves in handle can help smaller ropes stay secure. Solid choice for a reasonable price.
Inflation instructions are limited and have led to confusion for some customers.
PVC construction is durable enough to resist scratches and blemishes on the surface from jagged edges in the water. Hole is small to easily thread lines around quickly.
Too small to be used on large speed boats, unless used with other similar models.
Comes in various small sizes and colors to mix and match as needed. Vinyl exterior resists warping and bursting when sandwiched between the side of the dock and a boat.
Included rope may fray or break after a couple of uses, requiring new replacement lines.
Smaller size makes it easy to inflate and deflate as needed. Product deflates down flat for storing in small spaces. Uses a standard air pump for inflation.
Inflation may take longer when using hand-powered pumps.
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A buoy is basically an object that floats on the water, but in reality, it is so much more. Buoys can be used to mark aquatic areas such as channels, aid in boat navigation, warn of dangers like submerged rocks, and provide other information to boat operators.
Durable and brightly colored, the simple anchor buoy is typically used to mark the location of an anchor used for moorings. It can also be used by mariners as a simple warning buoy. Multiple buoys can be placed along the side of a boat as bumpers to protect the boat from crashing into docks and other objects.
Anchor buoys come in a variety of sizes, and the larger the buoy, the larger the watercraft you can use it with. Here’s a set of rough guidelines for anchor buoys.
These are general estimates that we put together based on a variety of anchor buoys currently available. Always check the listing or contact the manufacturer to find out what boat size a particular buoy is recommended for. The majority of makers offer a range of sizes to choose from.
Anchor buoys come in various shapes, but the overwhelming standard here is a round or tear-drop shape. If you have your heart set on a different shape, you may be able to find it, but be prepared for a bit of a search.
Most anchor buoys can be inflated in several different ways. The majority incorporate a valve capable of accommodating a hand pump with a simple pin inflator in addition to an air compressor nozzle. Where hand pumps are effective when used with smaller buoys, you might be better off with an electric pump or compressor for a buoy with a larger diameter.
The best anchor buoys are easy to deflate so you can store them flat when not in use, conserving your storage space.
Anchor buoys are typically made from marine-grade vinyl or some type of durable plastic, with the emphasis on “durable.” Buoys take a considerable amount of abuse, not only from the sea and elements but also from constant exposure to boats. A thicker buoy, preferably crafted in one piece for strength, should be able to resist scratches and warping, stand up to pressure, and be impervious to ruptures and air leaks.
Nowhere is durability more important than the eyelet, or the point where either a rope or shackle attaches to the buoy. The eyelet should be large enough to accommodate a variety of rope widths; the larger the hole, the greater width of rope (or sturdier shackle) you can use with the buoy. The material that is used in the eyelet’s construction should also be reinforced. A weak eyelet is all it takes to lose both the buoy and your anchor.
As mentioned, the valve should offer a couple of different ways to inflate the buoy. These are usually via a needle inflator and an air compressor nozzle. Something like a tri-valve will provide you with more inflation options.
Some buoys feature valves that can be removed, allowing for quick and easy deflation.
While not standard, some anchor buoys come with a shackle or anchor ring or a length of line or rope to run between the buoy and the anchor. Any included rope or line should be strong and resistant to frays and breaks.
The color of an anchor buoy can help it stand out in the water, allowing you to see it and other boaters to avoid it. There is no standard color associated with anchor buoys, although orange and red are common. The main goal is to find something that stands out. You will also occasionally see buoys that have been “UV stabilized” to help protect them from fading in the sun.
Anchor buoys can cost less than $15 or more than $60, but the average price lies in the $20 to $35 range.
Inexpensive: Anchor buoys that cost less than $15 tend to be small and less durable than pricier choices. These are best reserved for short boats in sheltered mooring locations.
Mid-range: Between $20 and $35, you will find larger and more durable buoys. Products in this range are geared toward mid-size recreational boats.
Expensive: Anchor buoys over $35 are even larger and more durable. These can cost $100 or more and are usually commercial-grade buoys built to take lots of abuse. Buoys in this range sometimes ship with extras, such as rope or anchor rings.
Q. Is it good to size up when choosing an anchor buoy?
A. It depends on what you need the buoy for. If you intend to use it with an anchor, it’s usually best to get the proper buoy for your boat size, as we have discussed. A buoy that’s too large takes up needless space and is that much more difficult to inflate, deflate, and store.
However, if you’re using an anchor buoy as a bumper or fender to protect your boat from colliding with a dock, a larger buoy may be the way to go.
Q. Is there an easy way to inflate a buoy?
A. One of the hardest aspects of using an anchor buoy is the inflation. If you are using a hand pump and have trouble inserting the needle in the valve, try using a little oil or another lubricant on the needle. If you find it difficult to pump up a buoy fully, particularly if it is a large or commercial-grade buoy, you might be better off investing in an air compressor or electric pump.
Valve problems can also lead to difficult inflation. If you suspect the valve is the problem, contact the manufacturer for more information on how to fix or replace the valve.
Q. What kind of line should I use to attach the buoy to the anchor?
A. You could use a number of types of line or cord. One of the best choices is a polypropylene cord. Polypropylene holds up in harsh sea conditions and has one great side benefit: it floats. Be sure to choose a bright color so you can spot it in the water. Seal any cut ends with a lighter or a little glue to prevent the rope from fraying.
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