While the official start to the season is still several months away, this mild winter is making boaters anxious to enjoy Long Island Sound. And with the help of Michael Johnston, more of them will be able to place their boats in Darien's waters this season.

Johnston, an Eagle Scout candidate from Darien, got involved last summer when the Boy Scouts were approached with a possible service project by Darien's harbor master, Tom Bell. The task involved many different aspects of gathering and recording vital information about the moorings in Darien's coves and harbors.

"I read an article in the Greenwich Time, describing how an Eagle Scout candidate did a similar project for Greenwich," Bell said.

"Here in Darien we had just moved to an online registration system and we were looking for a way to capture a lot of information about all of the moorings in our waters. I'm so pleased Michael was able to help. It would have taken me many months to do what he did in several days late last summer."

The project involved affixing the new town of Darien Mooring Permit decal on every buoy -- then capturing the vessel's make, model, boat name, registration number, and the longitude and latitude coordinates. Once captured, the information was then inputted into the online system, matching the information to existing records in the database. Johnston also labeled and recorded information on buoys that didn't have vessels tethered to them.

"That continues to be a priority for me," Bell said. "Identifying moorings that are not registered or possibly abandoned may allow those boat owners on our wait lists to take ownership of those moorings."

Johnston devoted many hours of work, which had to be done at high tide to ensure consistency of information across all the moorings.

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An avid boater himself, he needed to meet the requirements of both the harbor master and the Boy Scouts. He had to supply his own boat, be a licensed operator, and use the town-supplied GPS device to capture the GPS coordinates. Johnston also needed to work under the watchful eye of Scoutmaster Grant Evans while on the water, and adhere to all Boy Scout safety rules.

"I enjoyed working on a project that I know will have a positive effect on the community, and I would like to thank all of the volunteers that helped make this project possible," Johnston said.

"There is still some work that needs to be done with all of the information Michael captured," Bell said. "But his efforts will have an impact this boating season as more and more Darien residents seek to place their boats in our harbors. The online system, with this new information in it, will allow easier mooring placements and help reduce our wait lists going forward."