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A bell buoy is a large buoy on which a bell is mounted, to be rung by the motion of the waves. Buoys became important aids to navigation around 1880. With the advent of steam-powered vessels, buoys were employed to mark the safest and shortest routes.
Not all buoys are bell type. Some are whistle buoys, and other large lighted buoys.

The standards for buoys are established by the Coast Guard’s Office of Aids to Navigation in Washington DC. The Coast Guard is tasked with deploying and maintaining the buoys for the rest of their life.

All buoys are held in place with concrete sinkers, called “rocks”. Different size sinkers are used depending on the buoy size and sea conditions.

Buoys are in the sea for as long as 30 years. A Coast Guard Buoy Tender will visit the buoy during its stay in the sea. Large buoys will be removed and taken ashore for servicing such welding repairs, painting and new bell or whistle.

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