Anchoring and Mooring
Many candidates for the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster exams are nervous about being asked to moor the yacht between pile moorings. However, provided you have enough crew the manoeuvre is not a difficult one in most cases, the difficulty is in briefing your crew sufficiently before hand so that everyone is clear what their job is. That is why it is used as an examination exercise!
It is essential that the crew are adequately briefed about the overall plan and also what they specifically will be required to do. The best means of doing this is to draw out the exercise for everyone to see, preferably before you start off on the passage that will end in the harbour where you will be mooring up. Once you arrive and have selected your berth it is a good idea to slowly motor past and point out exactly where the mooring ropes are going to be attached.
The vessel will approach into the tide or towards the wind if there is no tide, the boat will be on the downwind side of the first pile (because you will be going slowly the vessel will tend to slip to leeward slightly), as you pass the first pile the stern rope will be passed around the metal bar and brought back to the boat. To make this easy the rope needs to be flaked out on the deck and the end led forwards to the widest part of the boat from where the crew should be able to reach the pile easily.
Once the rope is around the metal bar the crew must ensure that it continues to run out freely without snagging, it will take a lot of rope! (you may need to join two together). The boat is then turned slightly so that it is easy to reach the bar on the second pile and then stopped so that the bar is just in reach of the bow. Once the line is round the metal bar the vessel drops back until it is between the two piles.
If the tide is so high that it is not safe for the crew to reach down to the mooring bar you will be able to throw the rope over the top of the pile and let it run round the whole post. It is not very pretty but much safer that trapping someone between the boat and the post.
If the rope is left around the bar it will chafe through fairly quickly. At the bottom of the bar there will normally be a metal ring that can be pulled up with a thin line or your boat hook if there is no line.
The mooring ropes should be tied to this ring with a Bowline, but one that has a round turn round the ring to reduce chafe. By tying a long loop in the bowline it will be easier to release the ropes when you need to leave. If staying overnight, it is best to tie two ropes from the bow and two from the stern to each ring.
The driving of the yacht is not particularly difficult, for this exercise to be successful you need to make sure that you have assessed the tide and wind directions correctly and that everyone understands their role. Brief the crew and prepare the ropes thoroughly!
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