July 18, 2013

A temptation to resist

A PRIVATE MOORING BUOY is always a great temptation to a skipper who is obsessed with the need to find a safe, quiet berth after a hard day’s sailing.

The temptation is vastly increased if that enticing buoy also happens to lie among closely anchored yachts where there is no room to allow a decent scope for the anchor line.

But it’s a temptation to be resisted.

In the first place, you can’t know the condition of the underwater components of the mooring. You also probably won’t know what size of boat that mooring was designed to accommodate. You might get away with it if the weather is calm, but if the wind rises and the waves get up you might break the mooring and put yourself in a very dangerous position. Furthermore, where will you go if the owner of the mooring comes back in the middle of the night and kicks you off?

No, steel yourself to another half-hour of anxious circling and searching for the anchoring spot that will provoke the fewest fierce glares from those already settled back on their rodes. You’ll be a lot safer at anchor.

Incidentally, in congested anchorages, you can usually get away with a scope of 3-to-1 if you use an all-chain rode, and if the weather is calm.

Today’s Thought
Joy, shipmate, joy!
(Pleas’d to my soul at death I cry,)
Our life is closed, our life begins,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore,
Joy, shipmate, joy!
— Walt Whitman, Joy, Shipmate, Joy!

Some people are like Slinkies — not really good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Anonymous said...

Your so very right to stay off those unknown moorings. Dangerous practice, I've seen a boat come adrift from a long unserved mooring near Annapolis MD. The only problem is there are so damn many unused and unserviced moorings around clogging up anchorages it's disgusting. I generally lean libertarian but I do wish we the people could clean out some seldom used moorings. After all what give one person the right to reserve for themselves a sweet anchoring spot then never use the mooring or just leave the boat unattended for years. In our controlled harbor there is a proposal that personal moorings left unused for two years will be removed, yeah I say!

David said...

Friends of ours had a terrible experience with a mooring, off the coast of Dominica. The ground tackle was a concrete block weighing many hundreds of pounds. It was located on a downward slope, and there was a sharp drop-off not much farther out.

During the night, the concrete block slid down the slope, and went over the drop-off. They ended up with all that weight hanging from their bow cleats, and the boat very much "bow down!"

The only way to recover was to cut the mooring lines. They circled off the coast for the rest of the night, and picked up a different mooring (!) the next morning.