A Mooring Ball Gone with the Floe

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It was a dark and stormy night. Actually it was a cold and windy mid-February afternoon. We were into our fifth or sixth day of single-digit temperatures, our cove in Connecticut was covered with a layer of ice about half a foot thick, and the wind was howling out of the north-northwest—altogether, not a pleasant afternoon.

As I sipped my tea and gazed out the window at my mooring ball, about 25 yards out from our dock, with visions of leisurely summer sails coursing through my brain, I had a funny feeling that the damn thing moved. I don’t mean up and down, because unfortunately it was fully encased in that same 6in of ice. I looked again but could not be sure, so I took a sight over the ball to a point on the opposite shore of the cove and went back to reading.

Another 15 minutes or so after that I checked and sure enough, the ball was headed southwest out of the cove. I also discovered that the wind had clocked around to the north-northeast, and the whole ice floe was headed out with my mooring ball firmly in its grip. That fall I had thought of putting in a winter stick, but for four years or so the ball had managed just fine. Now, as I watched, the ice floe was blown out of the cove with my 150lb mushroom anchor, 20ft of 5/8ths chain and the mooring ball in its grip. Over the next hour or so I watched the ice floe and ball head pretty much southeast until finally, I could no longer see it in the jumble of ice and decreasing light. Damn!

Two or three days later the temperatures had moderated, the ice floe had broken up, and the mooring ball was nowhere to be seen. I looked with my binoculars in the direction it had been headed—no luck. That spring my wife and I took one of the Thimble Island cruises. As we listened to Captain Mike’s interesting patter about Island lore I scanned the suspected location area. Nothing. Darn! That summer we sailed on a friend’s boat, did some rowing, kayaking and still no mooring ball.

Come early spring of 2019, and for some reason that I can’t remember now I was looking at Google Maps satellite photos and noted that it showed the new roof on our garage. I also noted that the photos showed a really, really low tide, lots of mud visible in the cove.

“Hey, wait a minute! That looks like the snail trail that the dragged mushroom anchor left. This is very cool, I can see it very distinctly heading off to the southwest. Whoa, wait a minute…looks like it took a sharp left turn to the southeast and, hey, what’s that white dot at the end of the trail?”

Grabbing my binoculars, I scanned the area and, lo and behold, just northeast of a little island in the middle of Stony Creek harbor was a mooring ball right where the satellite photos showed it. A couple of weeks later and a number of degrees warmer, I got my little 2hp Evinrude on our dinghy and putt-putted out there. Right on target, there was the black “B” and two blue circles—my mooring! All that was left to do was to drag it back to its proper location—that, and to think seriously about a winter stick.

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