Title:
Boat mooring device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat mooring device which self-adjusts to fluctuations in water level due to tidal action, floods, storms and the like is disclosed. The boat mooring device comprises an elongate, generally vertical pylon with a narrow vertical slit extending along most of the length of the pylon, an inner flotation device positioned within the pylon, means to attach the inner flotation device to a mooring line, and means to attach the pylon to a mooring structure such as a dock pole. The inner flotation member moves vertically within the interior of the vertical pylon as water level fluctuates, and the attached mooring line moves vertically in concert. The inner flotation member further includes a cylindrical collar containing brushing means, wherein the brushing means scour the interior surface of the pylon to clear barnacles or other debris which would interfere with the operation of the device.



Inventors:
Smith, Robert (Ruskin, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/880951
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
07/25/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SOTELO, JESUS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JAMES RAY & ASSOCIATES (MONROEVILLE, PA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A boat mooring device comprising: (a) an elongate, generally vertical pylon including a wall, an internal cavity, an interior wall surface, an exterior wall surface, and a narrow vertical slit aperture extending through said wall along a majority of the length of said elongate, generally vertical pylon; (b) an inner flotation member positioned within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon such that said inner flotation member translates vertically within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon in response to water level fluctuations, where said inner flotation member further includes an upper end and a lower end; (c) means engageable with said inner flotation member for attaching said inner flotation member to a boat mooring line; and (d) means engageable with said elongate, generally vertical pylon for attaching said elongate, generally vertical, pylon to a fixed mooring structure.

2. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 1, wherein said elongate, generally vertical pylon and said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon are generally cylindrical.

3. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 2, wherein said means for attaching said inner flotation member to a boat mooring line are attached near said upper end of said inner flotation member.

4. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 3, wherein said means for attaching said inner flotation member to a boat mooring line project through said narrow vertical slit aperture of said elongate, generally vertical pylon.

5. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 4, wherein said means for attaching said inner flotation member to a boats mooring line include an eye bolt.

6. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 5, wherein said eye bolt further includes a water-resistant and weather-resistant coating.

7. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 6, wherein said water-resistant and weather-resistant coating is a rubber coating.

8. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 1, wherein said inner flotation member further includes an interior cavity.

9. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 8, wherein said interior cavity of said inner flotation member further includes a filling of buoyant material.

10. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 9, wherein said filling of buoyant material of said interior cavity of said inner flotation member further includes buoyant foam material.

11. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 9, wherein a cap impervious to water is attached over the upper end of said inner flotation member.

12. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 1, wherein a cylindrical collar is attached near said lower end of said inner flotation member.

13. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 12, wherein said cylindrical collar further includes a plurality of brushes.

14. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 13, wherein said plurality of brushes contact said interior wall surface of said elongate, generally vertical pylon.

15. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 1, wherein said means for attaching said elongate, generally vertical pylon to said fixed mooring structure include a plurality of wings, said wings spaced along a vertical axis and projecting from said exterior wall surface of said elongate, generally vertical pylon.

16. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 15, wherein said wings further include a narrow, vertically-oriented aperture.

17. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 16, wherein said elongate, generally vertical pylon is secured to said fixed mooring structure by securing means extending through said narrow, vertically-oriented aperture of said wings.

18. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 17, wherein said securing means include at least one rope.

19. A boat mooring device as recited in claim 17, wherein said securing means include at least one water-resistant and weather-resistant strap.

20. A boat mooring device comprising: (a) an elongate, generally vertical pylon including a wall, an internal cavity, an interior wall surface, an exterior wall surface, and a narrow vertical slit aperture extending through said wall along a majority of the length of said elongate, generally vertical pylon; (b) an inner flotation member positioned within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon such that said inner flotation member translates vertically within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon in response to water level fluctuations, and where said inner flotation member further includes an upper end and a lower end, a filling of buoyant foam, a water-impervious cap positioned on said upper end, and a cylindrical brush-containing collar positioned near said lower end; (c) an eye bolt capable of engagement with a boat mooring line, wherein said eye bolt is attached to said inner flotation member and said eye bolt extends through said narrow slit aperture; and (d) a plurality of wings, said wings spaced along a vertically parallel axis and further projecting from said exterior wall surface of said elongate, generally vertical pylon, where said wings further include a narrow, vertically-oriented aperture capable of receiving means for attaching said elongate, generally vertical pylon to a fixed mooring structure.

21. A boat mooring system for securing a boat with respect to a fixed mooring structure while automatically responding to fluctuations in water level comprising, in combination: (a) a boat positionable in water having a water level, where said water level and boat rise and fall together with the tide and weather conditions, the boat including cleats for attaching mooring lines; (b) a plurality of boat mooring structures including a securement surface, said plurality of mooring structures adjacent to said boat and at an elevation above said water level; (c) a plurality of boat mooring devices, each comprising an elongate, generally vertical pylon including a wall, an internal cavity, an interior wall surface, an exterior wall surface, and a narrow vertical slit aperture extending through said wall along a majority of the length of said elongate, generally vertical pylon; an inner flotation member positioned within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon such that said inner flotation member translates vertically within said internal cavity of said elongate, generally vertical pylon in response to water level fluctuations, and where said inner flotation member further includes an upper end and a lower end, a filling of buoyant foam, a water-impervious cap positioned on said upper end, and a cylindrical brush-containing collar positioned near, said lower end; an eye bolt capable of engagement with a boat mooring line, wherein said eye bolt is attached to said inner flotation member and said eye bolt extends through said narrow slit aperture; and a plurality of wings, said wings spaced along a vertically parallel axis and further projecting from said exterior wall surface of said elongate, generally vertical pylon, where said wings further include a narrow, vertically-oriented aperture capable of receiving means for attaching said elongate, generally vertical pylon to a fixed mooring structure; (d) means engageable with said narrow, vertically-oriented apertures on said wings of said boat mooring devices for attaching said boat mooring devices to said fixed boat mooring structures; and (e) boat mooring lines for attaching said boat to said boat mooring device, said boat mooring lines engageable with said eye bolts and said cleats.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application is related to and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/833,049, filed Jul. 25, 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, in general, to boating equipment and more particularly, this invention relates to a device and system to automatically adjust the vertical position of the rope securing a boat to a dock or marina.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of boat mooring devices and systems of known designs and configurations is known in the prior art. More specifically, boat mooring systems of known designs and configurations previously devised and utilized for the purpose of mooring a boat through known methods and devices are known to consist basically of familiar, expected, and obvious structural configurations, notwithstanding the myriad of designs encompassed by the crowded prior art which has been developed for the fulfillment of countless objectives and requirements.

One boat mooring strategy is to adjust the length of the rope which secures a boat to a relatively fixed position such as a dock, a pier, or another vessel. U.S. Pat. No. 5,819,679 to Bonate provides an example of this strategy. Bonate discloses a spring-loaded boat tethering device which provides reliable and repeatable extension, retraction and locking of mooring lines. The device is positioned on the boat to be moored, and the mooring line is tied or otherwise fixed to a dock pole or analogous structure. U.S. Pat. No. 5,265,553 to Brydges discloses a system in which the length of a mooring rope is adjusted by means of a counterweight and pulley combination. A pulley or analogous hardware is mounted in a fixed position on a fixed mooring structure. A mooring line, which is attached to a boat at one end, is conveyed through a pulley, and a counterweight is attached to the other end of the mooring line. As the water level rises or falls, mooring line is retracted or extended, but kept taut at all times due to the action of said counterweight.

Another common strategy is to vary to vertical position of a relatively fixed length of rope which moors the vessel to a fixed structure. The rope is vertically adjusted in response to changes in water level such as those caused by tides or storms. U.S. Pat. No. 4,309,954 to Szuch, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,341,757 to Digiacomo each disclose vertically adjustable mooring devices employing a mounted pulley system. Szuch discloses a pulley system encompassing a closed loop line, where said pulley is fixed to a dock post or similar structure, and said loop line is indirectly tied to a portion of the boat. As the water level (and the boat) rises or falls, the closed loop is pulled up or down by the action of the boat, with force transmitted from boat attachment means to the closed loop line to the pulley. Digiacomo discloses an analogous system in which a boat or other floating object is connected via a pulley to a cable, where said cable is mounted on a fixed structure such as a dock post. The pulley moves vertically in contact with the cable as the floating object moves vertically.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,994,047 B1 to Pent, III discloses a boat mooring system in which a carriage assembly including rollers translates vertically along an associated post as a boat attached to said carriage by a mooring line moves vertically in response to changes in the water level. Analogously, U.S. Pat. No. 6,216,625 B1 to Baluha discloses a self-adjusting tidal mooring device in which a mooring line is connected at one end to a conventional rope cleat on a boat, and is connected at its other end to a vertical slide block. As water levels fluctuate, said slide block translates vertically along a vertical slide shaft. Said slide shaft is fixed on a typical mooring pole or piling.

There is a need for a simple, weather-resistant, self-cleaning boat mooring device. The present invention combines these features in a device with a minimum of moving parts such as disclosed in the pulley-based configurations detailed above. The device of the present invention vertically adjusts the position of a fixed length of rope utilizing durable, weather-resistant parts. It is in an effort to improve upon the boat mooring devices disclosed in the prior art that the present invention was created.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides boat mooring device which self-adjusts to fluctuations in water level due to tidal action, floods, storms and the like. The boat mooring device comprises an elongate, generally vertical pylon with a narrow vertical slit extending along most of the length of the pylon, an inner flotation device positioned within the pylon, means to attach the inner flotation device to a mooring line, and means to attach the pylon to a mooring structure such as a dock pole.

The elongate, generally vertical pylon comprises a wall, an internal cavity, an interior wall surface, and an exterior wall surface. In a preferred embodiment, the pylon and internal cavity are generally cylindrical. The pylon is manufactured from hard, durable, water and corrosion-resistant plastic. Ideally, the vertical length of the pylon should be chosen such that the upper end of the pylon clears the expected high water mark and the lower end of the pylon sits below the expected low water mark.

A narrow vertical slit aperture is extended through the wall of the pylon. The slit aperture should be extended along a majority of the length of the pylon, ideally such that the top and bottom of the slit aperture span a range including at least the expected high water and low water marks, respectively. The slit aperture must be sufficiently wide to allow clearance for an eye bolt or other attachment extending through the slit to freely move up and down. In a preferred embodiment, the slit aperture is approximately 1 inch in width. The inner flotation member moves vertically within the internal cavity of the vertical pylon as water level fluctuates; an attached mooring line moves vertically in concert with the inner flotation member. The inner flotation member is manufactured as a hollow tube, ideally cylindrical, and closed at its bottom end. The inner flotation member further includes a filling of buoyant material, preferably Styrofoam or a related foam material. When filled, the upper end of the inner flotation member is closed with a water-impervious cap, such as a plastic snap-on type cap. Alternatively, the inner flotation member can be manufactured as a closed tube with a buoyant filling. A cylindrical collar containing a plurality of brushing means is attached to the inner flotation member near the bottom end of the flotation member. The cylindrical collar should be of a diameter slightly smaller than the interior diameter of the internal cavity of the pylon. The brushing means are chosen from among brushes well-known in the art. As the inner flotation device rises up and down over time in response to water level fluctuations, the attached brushing means likewise move up and down and scour the interior surface of the pylon. In this manner, barnacles or other debris which would interfere with the operation of the device are cleared from the interior wall surface of the pylon.

The boat mooring device of the present invention further includes means engageable with the inner flotation member for attaching the inner flotation member to a boat mooring line. In a preferred embodiment, means to attach the mooring device to a mooring line are attached near the upper end of the inner flotation device, and are designed to project out of the slit aperture and extend beyond the perimeter of the pylon. A preferred attachment means is an eye bolt to which a mooring line can be tied or otherwise secured. As the inner flotation, device moves vertically in response to water level fluctuations, the attached eye bolt likewise moves vertically, and a mooring line secured to the eye bolt would move an equivalent vertical distance. The eye bolt or analogous attachment means are coated with a water, weather and corrosion-resistant coating, such as synthetic rubber or resins, or other suitable water, weather and corrosion-resistant coatings well-known in the art.

The invention further includes means for attaching the boat mooring device to said fixed mooring structure such as a dock post or piling. In a preferred embodiment, the attachment means include a plurality of wings attached to the exterior wall surface of the pylon. The wings are spaced along the length of the pylon on a vertical axis and project outwardly from the pylon surface. The wings are ideally manufactured from the same durable, weather-resistant hard plastic used to fabricate the pylon.

The wings include a narrow, vertically-oriented aperture, with the aperture sufficiently sized to receive a length of securing means such as a rope line or strap. In a preferred embodiment, a rope or strap is threaded through the wing aperture, and the rope or strap is pulled tight, firmly securing the boat mooring device to a mooring structure such as a dock piling. In an alternative embodiment, the wings can include hooks, through which a rope, strap or similar attachment means may be threaded to lash the boat mooring device to a mooring structure.

The invention further includes a boat mooring system, ink which the boat mooring device detailed above is secured to a mooring structure such as a dock piling by straps or equivalent means, one end of a mooring line is securely attached to an eye bolt or equivalent means attached on the inner flotation member, as detailed above, and the other end of a mooring line is attached to a rope cleat or equivalent structure, which is in turn attached to a boat. The boat mooring system is designed to automatically adjust the vertical position of a plurality of fixed lengths of line mooring a boat in response to water level fluctuations, maintaining the boat in a securely docked position.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, one of the primary objects of the present invention to provide a boat mooring device which automatically adjusts the vertical position of a fixed length of boat mooring line in response to fluctuations in water level caused by tidal action or weather conditions.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a boat mooring device suitable for use with a range of boat sizes.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a boat mooring device designed with a minimum of moving parts.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a boat mooring device resistant to water and weather damage.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a self-cleaning boat mooring device with the capability to remove barnacles, corrosion and other debris from the interior of the device.

A final object of the present invention is to provide a boat mooring system utilizing the boat mooring device of the present invention in combination with boat mooring accessories known in the prior art.

In addition to the various objects and advantages of the present invention described with some degree of specificity above it should be obvious that additional objects and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent to those persons who are skilled in the relevant art from the following more detailed description of the invention, particularly, when such description is taken in conjunction with the attached drawing figures and with the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the boat mooring device of the present invention, illustrating the pylon structure, pylon attachment means, mooring line attachment means, and the inner flotation member positioned within the pylon.

FIG. 2 is an expanded perspective view of the inner flotation member.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view representation of the boat mooring device of the present invention attached to a fixed mooring structure such as a dock post.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a boat at low tide, moored via the boat mooring device of the present invention to a fixed mooring structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF A PRESENTLY PREFERRED AND VARIOUS ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Prior to proceeding to the more detailed description of the present invention it should be noted that, for the sake of clarity and understanding, identical components which have identical functions have been identified with identical reference numerals throughout the several views illustrated in the drawing figures.

Reference is now made, more particularly, to FIG. 1, which is a perspective view of the boat mooring device of the present invention. The invention comprises an elongate, generally vertical pylon 20, a narrow vertical slit aperture 22 extending along a majority of the length of the pylon 20, an inner floating member 30 positioned within the interior of the pylon 20, mooring line attachment means 32 for attaching the boat mooring device to a mooring line (line not shown in FIG. 1), and mooring structure attachment means (24 and 28) for attaching the boat mooring device to a mooring structure such as a dock piling (piling not shown in FIG. 1). The pylon 20 is sealed at its top end by a cap 38.

The elongate, generally vertical pylon 20 comprises a wall, an internal cavity, an interior wall surface, and an exterior wall surface. In a preferred embodiment, the pylon 20 and internal cavity are generally cylindrical. The pylon 20 is manufactured from hard, durable, water and corrosion-resistant plastic. Ideally, the vertical length of the pylon 20 should be chosen such that the upper end of the pylon easily clears the expected high water mark and the lower end of the pylon sits below the expected low water mark.

A narrow vertical slit aperture 22 is extended through the wall of the pylon 20. The slit aperture 22 should be extended along a majority of the length of the pylon 20, ideally such that the top and bottom of the slit aperture span a range including at least the expected high water and low water marks, respectively. In this invention, a mooring line can only be adjusted vertically as far as the top and bottom limits of slit aperture 22. The slit aperture must also be sufficiently wide to allow clearance for the mooring line attachment means 32 which extend through the slit to freely move up and down. In a preferred embodiment, the slit aperture is approximately 0.75 to 1 inch in width.

The invention further includes means for attaching the boat mooring device to said fixed mooring structure such as a dock post or piling. FIG. 3 illustrates the boat mooring device secured to a dock piling or analogous fixed mooring structure 40. In a preferred embodiment, the attachment means include a plurality of wings 24 attached to the exterior wall surface of the pylon 20. The wings 24 are spaced along the length of the pylon 20 on a vertical axis and project outwardly from the pylon surface. The wings 24 are ideally manufactured from the same durable, weather-resistant hard plastic used to fabricate the pylon.

In a preferred embodiment, the wings include a narrow, vertically-oriented aperture 25, with the aperture 25 sufficiently sized to receive a length of securing means 26 such as a rope or strap. In a preferred embodiment, a rope or strap is threaded through the wing aperture 25, and the rope or strap is pulled tightly, firmly securing the boat mooring device to a mooring structure 40 such as a dock piling. In an alternative embodiment, the wings can include hooks 28, through which a rope, strap or similar attachment means 26 may be threaded to lash the boat mooring device to a mooring structure 40.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2, which is an expanded representation of inner flotation member 30, also illustrating mooring line attachment means 32, cylindrical collar 34 which includes a plurality of brushing means, and water-impervious cap 36.

The inner flotation member 30 is positioned within the internal cavity of the vertical pylon 20, and moves vertically as water level fluctuates. The inner flotation member 30 is manufactured as a hollow tube, ideally cylindrical, and closed at its bottom end. The inner flotation member 30 further includes a filling of buoyant material, preferably Styrofoam or a related foam material. When filled, the upper end of the inner flotation member 30 is closed with a water-impervious cap 36, such as a plastic snap-on type cap. Alternatively, the inner flotation member 30 can be manufactured as a closed tube with a buoyant filling.

Mooring line attachment means 32 engageable with the inner flotation member 30 connect the inner flotation member 30 to a boat mooring line (line not shown in FIG. 2). In a preferred embodiment, means 32 to attach the mooring device to a mooring line are attached near the upper end of the inner flotation device 30, and are designed to project out of the slit aperture 22 and extend beyond the perimeter of the pylon 20. A preferred attachment means 32 is an eye bolt (shown in FIG. 2) to which a mooring line can be tied or otherwise secured. As the inner flotation device 30 moves vertically in response to water level fluctuations, the attached eye bolt 32 likewise moves vertically, and a mooring line secured to the eye bolt would move an equivalent vertical distance. The eye bolt or analogous attachment means are coated with a water, weather and corrosion-resistant coating, such as synthetic rubber or resins, or other suitable water, weather and corrosion-resistant coatings well-known in the art.

A cylindrical collar 34 containing a plurality of brushing means is attached to the inner flotation member 30 near the bottom end of the flotation member. The cylindrical collar 34 should be of a diameter slightly smaller than the interior diameter of the internal cavity of the pylon 20. The brushing means are chosen from among brushes well-known in the art. As the inner flotation device 30 rises up and down over time in response to water level fluctuations, the cylindrical collar 34 and attached brushing means likewise move up and down and scour the interior surface of the pylon 20. In this manner, barnacles or other debris which would interfere with the operation of the device are cleared from the interior wall surface of the pylon. FIG. 4 illustrates a boat mooring system utilizing the boat mooring device of the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, pylon 20 of the mooring device is secured to mooring structure 40 by means of a strap 26. Strap 26 is threaded through aperture 25 of wing member 24 (aperture and wing member not shown in FIG. 4) as detailed in the above description and illustrated in FIG. 3. One end of mooring line 42 is secured to a rope cleat 44 or analogous fixed means on boat 46. The other end of mooring line 42 is secured to attachment means 32 as previously detailed and illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. In a preferred embodiment, attachment means 32 comprise an eye bolt attached near the upper end of inner flotation member 30. Utilizing a plurality of boat mooring devices and mooring structures, a boat can be secured in position by several fixed lengths of mooring line. When the vertical position of boat 46 rises and falls in response to fluctuations in water level, the vertical position of mooring line 42, attachment means 32, and inner flotation member 30 adjust an equivalent amount, securely retaining the boat in position.

While a presently preferred and various alternative embodiments of the present invention have been described in sufficient detail above to enable a person skilled in the relevant art to make and use the same it should be obvious that various other adaptations and modifications can be envisioned by those persons skilled in such art without departing from either the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.