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Finding the Air Line

2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
Our club has had a Wally Sinker course for a few years now and it's been great. Find the Air line, plug in the compressor and it's up and ready in 10 min. Always straight, low maintenance.

The problem has been is that it's sometimes very difficult to find the air line to start raising it. We have it tied off between the boat guides and turn 3 and attached to a small duck decoy weight so it stays down.

We have it's location marked with a GPS. We have an extra green marker buoy below the surface that should be visible.
But if the marker buoy's dirty, the water's rough, the sun isn't at the right angle, we spend way too much time trying to find the GD thing.

We were at the local watering hole last night and I got a brainstorm of an idea. lol!
What if we got some type of remote controlled submarine, etc. that we could attach to the air line, so we can command it to surface, and see the air line laying on the surface. And when we're done inflating, sink it so we could ski. Then raise it again to attach the compressor to sink the course.

Or.. (after a few more drinks of course), someone suggested, getting an underwater buoy with a strobe light that we could activate, remotely, to show us where the line is. We'd still have to pull it up though.

I like the submarine idea better because it would actually put the air line right at the surface so we could grab it.

Are we nuts?
Are there remote controlled devices like this that might work?
Should we keep drinking?



  • fsts2kfsts2k Posts: 10 New Baller
    I am 100% down with anything RC

    That said.. I don't think the batteries would last long enough in the submarine. Last point, radio waves have a hard time penetrating water so if you wanted to go deep (>3 feet) you ended up fighting that.

    What about a magnet on the end of the air line and dropping strong magnet down from the boat on a rope? Caveat... I have zero idea if that would work and I have not been drinking
  • 2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
    @fsts2k Good points. I believe the ultra low RF signals are reserved for the military, and anything above those frequencies might have limited range. The line is in about 6 feet below the surface, so the range might be suspect.

    The magnet idea though, I like it.
  • marknmarkn Posts: 368 Crazy Baller
    We had an accu-sink for years here in Florida. Simply made a longer fill line, weighted of course, tied off to a cypress tree on shore. Fill line was close to 80 feet from course to the tree. Fill line can be as long as you want. We used scuba tanks for the fill. Pretty simple and very reliable approach.
  • 2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
    @markin Wish we could fill ours from the shore too, but it's a private lake with residence's houses surrounding the course area.
  • 2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
    Good advice. Most of my brilliant ideas were created after a few Budweiser's. :wink:
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 65 Baller
    Take a piece of extra ski rope (poly, diamond braid) and run it through a length of 1/2" red PEX plumbing line. Tie the ends of your rope together and you end up with kind of a circular hoop. The PEX floats, so if you attach the loose ends of your teardrop thingy to the end of the air hose you'll have a large, buoyant ring, kinda like a hula-hoop.

    Add just enough weight to the hoop/airline connection to sink it. If you cut your PEX tubing about 6-feet long you'll now have a ~ 2-foot diameter hoop, floating vertically well below propeller depth at around 4-feet deep. That should be very easy to snag with a grapple or boat hook.

  • 2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
    I like your idea. We'll need to get it a bit deeper as our previous four foot depth for the maker buoy was getting clipped by the wakeboard boats, but appreciate your thoughts. I think if we have something solid to grab below the surface, that's a big help. At present, we're just trying to grab an air hose with a long hook.
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 65 Baller
    edited October 15
    The diameter of the hoop will depend entirely on the length of your PEX tubing. Even just a 10-inch diameter hoop seems like a much easier target to grab than what you're currently doing.
  • hogexpresshogexpress Posts: 107 Baller
    Our 'fill-buoy' for our Wally-Sinker is yellow - same as our boat guides. It stays submerged about 3 ft with a couple concrete buckets to anchor it and we 'grapple' it with a hook pole. It sits about 10 feet off centerline of the course. We had very little trouble over the past 10 yrs with this setup. If our fill-buoy was green we would never find it in our lake.
    Years back we had an air line to the shore for fill, but found that took too much air and time to fill. Also it was just an extra line for someone to drag an anchor thru. Sub-buoy just off course centerline is much better.
    Course up in 6-8 mins (depending if boat is running)- down in about 8-10.
    Keith Sims - South Carolina
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,608 Mega Baller
    Change the color to yellow. If you always use the same boat, put in one of those fancy side-scan sonar fish locators the fishermen have these days. You'll find your course in no time and can go straight to ball 3.
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 416 Crazy Baller
    Can you convince the residents on this private lake to allow you to leave the course up - all the time so you don't have to fight the issue?
  • Tom351Tom351 Posts: 126 Baller
    edited October 15
    Do you have a single point marked on GPS? Or do you have both ends marked with a line between them? I ask because I used to have similar problems finding a submerged mainline to a course that lived on the bottom....most other users just did a radius search from a single point- I found it to be a huge timesaver to have two GPS points along the line, so I could start clearly on one side of the GPS line and just drag a pole with hook across the GPS line. Seemed much easier than trying to find a single point.
  • 2Valve2Valve Posts: 350 Solid Baller
    As luck would have it, I got a call from a company that's installing an aeration system in our lake to reduce algae, etc. I was asked to raise our course so they could make sure not to lay their air lines near it. In talking with them, I presented this issue and they offered running a separate air line to fasten along the pvc pipe where our airline for the course sits. It would emit a constant stream of bubbles and in effect, "mark" the location for the airline. So we're going to try this along with RGilmore's solution to make it easier to grab once located.

    Unfortunately, we're about done skiing so will have to re-assess in the spring.

    Thanks everyone!
  • 75Tique75Tique Posts: 140 Solid Baller
    Have a similar situation but not looking for airline, looking for course anchor. I have to sink my course when not in use. Our first approach was similar to one above, have a course buoy attached to the anchor so it sits about 5 feet below surface. We are not in a small cove, we are in the middle of a small lake. First time out we spent forever looking for submerged buoy and couldn find it despite GPS coordinates (tho with roughly 30' accuracy of a phone gps, thats still a pretty big area, and triangulation to shore objects. Ended up having to drag for the mainline to find it.

    This year, new plan. I have about a 200 foot leader from a course anchor to a lake no wake zone buoy. Not a bad system, but apparently we have junk on our lake botton (roughly 30' deep at leader/anchor location) in the form of old tree limbs, as a lot of times the leader gets snagged on the bottom, as does the anchor (I think as a result of dragging it along the bottom each time it is tightened. Any suggestions on ways to mark the anchor other than the 2 we've tried? Can not have a permanent floating buoy.
    “So, how was your weekend?”
    “Well, let me see…sun burn, stiff neck, screwed up back, assorted aches and pains….yup, my weekend was great, thanks for asking.”
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 65 Baller
    @75Tique How often do you need to tension the course by dragging the anchor, and why so often?
  • UWSkierUWSkier Posts: 1,608 Mega Baller
    Seriously... Find a buddy with a decent fishing boat with modern electronics. Give him the coordinates for your buoy and tell him he has 2 minutes to locate your anchor buoy. Bet he has it in under a minute if he knows how to use his side-scan.

    Those things have gotten a bit absurd with how well they work. Might be a little out of place in a ski boat, but if it saves you headaches...
    boats are like girlfriends you love them however there is another one around the corner - bananaron, July 21, 2020
  • 75Tique75Tique Posts: 140 Solid Baller
    @RGilmore Every time. Since my leader is attached to the anchor, hoisting the anchor up (standard EZ slalom 30 lb mushroom) is how we access the mainline. So it needs retightened every use. I suppose I could try to attach the leader to the gate. Maybe that would allow not tightening every time.
    “So, how was your weekend?”
    “Well, let me see…sun burn, stiff neck, screwed up back, assorted aches and pains….yup, my weekend was great, thanks for asking.”
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 65 Baller
    edited October 23
    @75Tique When a floating course is on the surface it should be under a good amount of tension, so the course is straight. Consequently, when it's on the bottom there is significant slack in the line. If you attach a small float to the mainline near the anchor, say 3 feet away, the result will be a loop of mainline that's pulled up off the bottom. If you attach a second float to the mainline, but 3 feet from the first gate, the result should be a length of mainline that's suspended above the bottom between the anchor and the first gate.

    This length won't be a full 3 feet off the bottom because that would requite the rest of the course to be pulled toward your moveable anchor by these floats, which is impossible. Using the WAG method, I would estimate the elevated line might be 6 inches to 1 foot off bottom. Depending on your water depth in that area, you should easily be able to grab it with a small grapple, or maybe even a boat hook.

    If you get this working, you could replace your 30-lb anchor with something far more substantial, like a pair of concrete-filled construction blocks, and never have to move it again. Also, when the full course is floating, the tension should be sufficient to keep both floats (and the section of mainline between them) plenty deep enough to avoid a prop strike.
  • 75Tique75Tique Posts: 140 Solid Baller
    @RGilmore You might be on to something. I wasnt sure at first, since I am in about 30 feet of water, plus, the two buoys holding up the line, the mainline would just sink to the bottom in between them. But then I thought what about a separate length of rope, tied in two places to the mainline, held up by buoys. What is difficult here is how much buoyancy to hold the extra rope up, but not float to surface. Last year did some experimenting with this and a turn ball, almost completely deflated will still float to the surface and suspend the mainline.
    Then I thought, I can use poly rope, which floats, vs nylon. It would float, but not pull the mainline up. But it would be a loose loop, whereas what we want is straight up to about 5 feet below surface, then a long enough horizontal stretch to find with a grapple or boat hook, then straight down. Thinking about it some more..... I could take 30 or 40 feet of 1/2 inch pvc pipe, sealed at both ends. It would be buoyant, but not pull up the mainline. If I am in 30 feet of water, I would have a rope at each end, to tie it to the mainline. I think I am on to something here, but 2 questions remain. Would 30 or 40 feet long be findable pretty much in the middle of a small lake (vs in a narrow cove, where most courses reside) Certainly easier to find and hook than a single ball 5 feet below the surface. Second question, once the course is floating with all the buoys, what do I do with the 40 pvc pipe that would now be floating at the surface. I could unclip it, but at 30 or 40 feet, even with the pontoon boat I use to float and sink the course, it would be ungainly to handle. Maybe I could clip a weight to it to sink it when course is deployed, but now its getting complicated. Any thoughts? Am I going down a path that has potential?

    “So, how was your weekend?”
    “Well, let me see…sun burn, stiff neck, screwed up back, assorted aches and pains….yup, my weekend was great, thanks for asking.”
  • jpwhitjpwhit Posts: 84 Baller
    The idea of having a section floating off the bottom may work well at some lakes, but at our lake we have to keep the course sunk completely to the bottom to keep the course from being snagged and subsequently damaged by fishermen. We actually had to add additional weights to the mainline in places to keep it all the way on the bottom. Before we did that, we'd come out much too often and find the course either cut or damaged by fishermen. I don't think the fishermen are doing it out of malice, they just simply don't understand that when they snag a rope laying in the lake, that it's not just junk in the lake that fine to cut to untangle their gear from.

    Just sharing my experience, if your lake doesn't have an active fishing community, then this may work quite well. Our course is in a cove, so we just use a couple of pieces vinyl coated SS cables going from the pre-gate diamonds to a tree on shore at each end of the course. The SS cable is good because it self-sinks and it isn't very visible. We actually have 2 courses in different locations that we use based on water level. One course is all SS and the other has a poly mainline.

    I also ski at a private lake / club when I'm at my main house. Makes you really appreciate being able to just show up and ski. At the Lake House, a group of us use the sunken course, but it's really not bad at all once you get a good system figured out.... And now that we've realized we have to keep it completely on the bottom, we rarely have to deal with damage to the course.
  • RGilmoreRGilmore Posts: 65 Baller
    edited October 24
    @75Tique Most floating courses have a polyethylene centerline, which floats. If your centerline is non-floating, then as you say, it can sink to the bottom on its own and my suggestion would not work (for the exact reasons you stated).

    Also, though it is irrelevant now, the buoys I was suggesting would be firm foam, not inflatable balls. Foam buoys are much less buoyant than hollow buoys, so under the normal tension of a straight course they have very little ability to lift the centerline beyond the depth it's already at when the course is up.
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