Friday, September 23, 2005

pick up a mooring - tips from the pro

You can see it at every anchorage on a Caribbean sailing vacation in the Virgin Islands: Charter yacht crews try to pick up a painter (the line which is connected to the mooring ball) of a mooring and need several attempts before they succeed.

Here are some tips from the experts how to do it right.
If you approach an anchorage always be on the lookout for swimmers and snorkerlers. Sailing into an anchorage may look very spectacular but is not advisable. The sails are blocking your view and your speed and direction of the boat is not that easy to adjust to a sudden upcoming situation. So take your sail down in a not crowded area of the anchorage and prepare your boat and crew for the upcoming mooring maneuver.

1.Make sure they have the boat hook handy.
2.Some moorings require that you use a rope from your yacht through the eye of the painter and back to your boat. Make sure this line is fixed on one side at the cleat, and then go through the eye and over the railing back on to your deck. This end will be the end you use to go through the eye of the painter.
3.Use hand signals to communicate the distance and direction of the mooring ball and the speed for the approach back to the guy at the wheel.
4.Most boats approach the mooring too fast, so slow down. Your boat should be almost at a stop at the mooring without using the reverse gear. You can not be too slow, but very often boats shoot far over the mooring. Only if you have a lot of wind you will need a little more speed.
5.Approach the mooring in an angle exactly into the wind direction.
6.Have a look out where the painter is floating. If the painter is not floating directly behind the mooring in the lee of the mooring you can expect some current, that also will influence the move of your boat.
7.As the guy at the helm check your speed by making a bearing to the side.
8.If possible, have two crew members on the foredeck (and only two - too many spectators are only in the way) One picks up the painter with the boat hook, after that the other one takes the boat hook and puts it in a safe place, then helps with fixing the line that you hopefully prepared on your foredeck to fix it back on the cleat.

Think and talk the maneuver through with your crew and have an anchor beer only after you did it successfully. Good luck.


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