Buoy and Sinker

© Photographed May 28, 2015
Erected 2014by U.S. Coast Guard and
Door County Maritime Museum
Sturgeon Bay, Door County, Wisconsin
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Buoy and Sinker
Sailors have long used floating objects secured to the sea bottom to mark reefs, shoals and other obstructions. Early markers were simply a log or barrel tied to a large rock strategically placed to warn mariners of danger. Over time these markers became more sophisticated in design. Mariners eventually developed rules for these floating markers so that a particular shape or color would have special meaning. Today these floating aids to navigation are known as buoys. Typically, a large metal or concrete weight rests on the sea bottom to hold the buoy in place. These weights are commonly called sinkers.

The buoy on display here is a large "nun buoy", so named because the conical shape of its top loosely resembles a nun's habit (hat). The buoy's size, shape and color are all important to its use as a navigational aid and indicate which side of the navigational channel it was designed to mark.

This buoy has a large cast iron sinker secured to its bottom by mooring chain. The letters 'US LHE" indicates [sic] that this particular sinker was manufactured for the United States Lighthouse Establishment. The Lighthouse Establishment was created by the first Congress in 1789 to oversee the nation's lighthouses and other navigational aids. The organization eventually became known as the Lighthouse Service and merged with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1989. The US LHE identifier dates the sinker to the mid-1850s. Note the plates added to the bottom to increase the sinker's weight.

Buoys have long helped in guiding ships safely to and from the port of Sturgeon Bay. Buoys were first used by the Lighthouse Board to mark the dangerous Dunlap Reef (located to the northwest of the historical Michigan Street Bridge) in 1873. Today, numerous buoys are maintained by the Coast Guard to ensure that vessels of all sizes can safely navigate the waters of Sturgeon Bay.

This historic buoy and sinker were donated by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay. This [illegible] ing tugboat is configured to fit into a notch at the stern of a barge to form one of the Coast Guard's longest [illegible]

In addition to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Door County Maritime Museum helped to create this exhibit.
The marker is located at Sawyer Park on South Neenah Avenue, south of its intersection with Oregon Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin 54235.

United States Coast Guard: USCGC Mobile Bay (WTGB-103)
The primary mission of USCGC Mobile Bay (WTGB-103) is icebreaking.  Mobile Bay conducts its icebreaking mission from mid-December through mid-April in the Northern Lakes, operating mostly in Green Bay, the Straits of Mackinac, and the St. Mary’s River.   Mobile Bay’s other missions include: Maritime Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Environmental Pollution Response, and Homeland Security.   

Wikipedia: USCGC Mobile Bay (WTGB-103)

See also, Sturgeon Bay's Waterfront History: Buoys and Beacons, also at this location.

Click here to view all markers at Sawyer Park.

 USCGC Mobile Bay: Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay (WTGB 103)
breaks ice in the Straits of Mackinaw on the Great Lakes, 6 March 1992
This media file is in the public domain.

The Buoy and Singer are behind the gazebo to the far right.

The marker is located at Sawyer Park Boat Launch.

The marker is located at Sawyer Park in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

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