Boat mooring, here’s how not to get it wrong


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Here is one of the “hottest” topics in the run-up to your summer cruise. Mooring: the right lines and knots, maneuvering for English docking, tip mooring, both stern and bow, how to do when the wind is blowing across.

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Mooring lines are generally made of buoyant nylon, a material that is very strong but also elastic enough to cushion any abrupt movements imparted to the boat. Buoyancy is a must in order to be able to easily retrieve a line that has fallen into the water, which is very frequent especially in “launches” to shore or to another boat. Their diameter (i.e., the section that must resist the stress) should be chosen according to the displacement of the yacht. Normally 8-10 mm diameter cables are more than sufficient for one-ton hulls (i.e., about 6-7 meters long), 14-16 mm for boats up to 5 or 6 tons (10-11 meters), 18-20 mm for boats of about 10-12 tons (14-15 meters), and so on.

Thebest way to leave the dock is to set up one or more twins. Doubling involves running the cable inside a loop or around a bollard that holds the boat to the dock, bringing both ends back on board. And so it is possible to let go of moorings by simply leaving one end and retrieving from the other, without having to go ashore again to untie knots.

Doubling is also very useful in a wind that tends to shift the boat transversely as soon as you let go of the mooring: simply send a long line to another boat or to a point on shore that is upwind and as perpendicular to the hull as possible; then a crewmember will spin the line as you leave the mooring, forcing or letting go depending on how far the wind tends to cross.

One last thing you become aware of when you want to leave your berth is the number of cables that other boats have run over yours, often making the retrieval operation problematic. Let us not behave in the same way, but let us use a dash of savoir-faire, always running our tops under others’ tops.

When a boat rotates, that is, moves the bow sideways, it simultaneously moves the stern on the opposite side
, as if both actually rotate around a vertical axis roughly coincident with the mast or center of the boat (in fact the yacht rotates around an axis passing through the center of the hull, but thinking about the mast is already a good approximation, Figure 74).

Before gearing up, therefore, it is necessary to move the whole boat as far away from the dock as necessary, with arms and help from the half sailor, to prevent the stern (or bow, depending on how you are getting out) from colliding with the fixed works in gaining the fairway.

This should be done especially if the wind tends to drift right against the pier. If, on the other hand, the wind favors exit, we can hold the stern line (passed to doublet) after dropping the bow ones: this time, due to the effect of the wind’s buoyancy, the whole boat will move in the same direction, pivoting where we fixed the doublet and bringing itself in a correct exit direction (Figure 75).

If you are docked alongside another vessel (mooring in the second or third swath), the maneuver of hauling moorings is similar to being directly at the dock, indeed it may be even easier, finding the hull already almost in the line of exit (the bow should always face the direction of exit from the mooring itself).

If there is a danger of the hulls crawling into each other, the advice is to move the yacht away by force of arms, visually checking the space useful for maneuvering. In any case, for maximum safety, always leave fenders secured until you have moved away, possibly keeping one ready to interpose between the boats.

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A point mooring is defined as having the yacht arranged perpendicular to the dock, with the bow or stern tied to shore and the opposite side to a dead body, one or two bricks, or directly on the anchor. And the most common berth in every marina in the world, because it allows for greater and more rational use of berthing space. The lines should always be tensioned symmetrically, in order to be able to maintain proper alignment, if necessary always trying to spread the cables sufficiently on the ground, so as to be less affected by any wind effects on the side or tidal currents (Figure 77).

Having the stern at the dock is the optimal condition for a pleasant harbor life (being easier to get off and back on the boat) and especially for a “clean” exit. In fact, to set sail it is almost always sufficient to make sure there are no floating lines in the water that can be caught by the propeller, then (after dutifully warming up the engine and observing that other yachts are not maneuvering) you retrieve all the mooring lines on board, engage the forward gear, and give a light throttle to start moving the boat.

As always, every movement should be made at low speed, remembering that in abrupt course changes the yacht rotates precisely around a hypothetical axis approximately coincident with the mast. This means that you will have to act on the rudder to move along the exit direction only after the mast itself has passed the bricks or boats docked alongside (Figure opposite).

For added peace of mind (e.g., when there might be cables, grippie or other semi-floating objects) the boat can be slid out of the space by force of arms. In this case one should always avoid clinging to the drapes or on the neighbor’s candlesticks (as is the case in almost all cases, causing the stanchion to loosen and even the stanchions to bend), but rather to properly use the midshipman pointing along the gunwale or, at the limit, pushing on the shrouds and pulpits, which are much stronger than the dragnets. As for the cables, if there is no wind or undertow, they can be retrieved on board at the time of departure, otherwise you should definitely set up the doubles and retrieve them only after the boat is already moving.

If one has to go out in reverse, one must keep in mind the inevitable greater difficulty in steering the yacht, due to the low effectiveness of the rudder (which comes to be in an abnormal “forward” position), combined with the evolutionary effect of the propeller. In particular, the latter acts right from the start, when the hull is still stationary and thus the effect of the rudder almost nil. Therefore, it is necessary to counteract its tendency to make the boat rotate in an undesirable way from the very beginning. Once you have acquired a slight abbreviation you can then proceed as in the previous case.

When even a moderate wind blows, all maneuvering becomes complicated, especially if the yacht is light displacement or has high superstructures that allow it to receive considerable buoyancy, promoting drifting.

It will first be necessary to ensure that the crew first molts the mooring lines that are downwind, leaving those upwind in tension until the last moment. If there is a danger that the boat will capsize before it has left the berth, running over the yacht downwind or classically catching with the bulb or rudder on its mooring line, it is prudent to run two (sufficiently long) doublet lines over the boat or over the windward bricks (Figure 79, note that the aft doublet is also attached, upwind, as far forward as possible, so that it can be put to good use even when the boat is already practically out of the berth). In this way, it will be possible to control that the hull remains parallel to the line of exit until the free portion of the channel of travel is reached.

The rudder should always be held a little to the brim, in proportion with the amount of drift. If the wind is blowing in the direction you want to steer, you will have to let go of the bow doublet first, still holding the stern one a little, so that the boat, aided by the wind, will bring itself into the line of travel (Figure 80).

If not, however, it will be necessary to let go of the aft doublet first, and to be very quick to shift into forward gear with a well metered thrust of the throttle, in order to get the hull on a positive tack and complete the exit turn, before the wind inevitably comes back across you. It is obvious that because of the delicacy of the operation, the whole crew still needs to be better instructed on what to do and when, especially for the perfect coordination of actions.



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