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The new buoys feature a reflective orange and white border around a large black number, making the mile markers easier to see at night. 

 

A new buoy can be found marking every mile of Lake Gaston between the Kerr and Roanoke Rapids dams this week after Shoreline Specialists finished the new install project for Dominion Energy.

The new buoys are almost identical to the old ones being replaced except for some high visibility changes that will help them stand out at night. The main difference is in the rigging holding the buoys in place.

According to Will Miller, the Reservoir Program manager at Dominion Energy Virginia, the new buoys are anchored with 100-pound stainless steel mooring anchors that are hoped will dig into the bottom and not slide around like the old concrete anchors.

Eddie Hardee, owner of Shoreline Specialists, said the rigging itself is also different.

“Every location we got the actual water depth, and we added about 12 foot of cable to each specific location, plus adding to an 8 foot piece of chain,” Hardee said. “There is more distance from the actual mooring from buoy to anchor, so when there are a lot of strong waves, the buoys can float a little bit more. They will lift that 8-foot of chain up off the bottom instead of lifting the actual anchor. It would take a lot more wave action and a lot more adverse condition to change the buoys’ locations.”

Dominion Energy, Lake Gaston Water Safety Council, the Lake Gaston Association, and other organizations have all received notifications over the years about the old buoys drifting and disappearing.

Shoreline Specialists began working on the project about three weeks ago, said Hardee.

“A lot of that was preliminary work,” he said. “I went out and mapped the locations out with latitude and longitudes for the buoys, dropped a placeholder buoy, got the current water depth, and cut all the cables to the right lengths All the rigging was pre-made, and all we had to do was attach it to the actual buoy and anchor and drop it overboard.”

Hardee’s crew of about four people and two boats was able to drop all 32 of the new buoys in about four days, and expects to collect all of the old buoys this week. According to Hardee, there are only about 12 old buoys left. 

According to Brian Goldsworthy, secretary of the Lake Gaston Association and president of the Lake Gaston Water Safety Council, the new mile markers are not necessarily for navigation, but it gives boaters an idea of where they are on the lake. 

Goldsworthy also noted that the new buoys are more likely to keep their station rather than drifting off like the old markers, which he said could have been there since the 1960s. 

“We’ll see how they do after the first big storm or hurricane,” he said. “I think the odds are far less that we’ll get phone calls saying ‘the Mile Marker 2 buoy is in front of my dock.’”

Goldsworthy said they’re just meant to give boats an overview of the lake, and they’re not exact. 

“If someone gets disoriented and finds a buoy, they’ll have a general idea of where they are on the lake,” he said. “Boaters form mental notes, like Washburn’s Marina is near Mile Marker 3.”