Skipper’s Tips #14 – Picking Up A Buoy

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These principles work equally well for yachts and motor boats alike. However, there is a caveat to the lassoing technique. I found this out when picking up a buoy in Cowes Roads once.  If you change your mind and decide not to pick up the mooring buoy, when you let the temporary line go – the one you’ve just lassoed the buoy with – you must throw the loose end well to the side before you start to pull it on board, as there is a very good chance that the tide will sweep the line past the buoy and free end will crossover the end of the line still attached to the boat, causing it to knot and subsequently making it exceedingly difficult to get away from the buoy.

Picking up a mooring buoy can be a little tricky at times, especially if it’s windy, the tide is running hard or there isn’t a pick-up line?  The simple solution is to set up a ‘lasso’…

Ask your crew to tie a mooring line to both forward cleats, lead the line around the outside of the ‘pulpit’, then coil the line up into fairly small coils – easier to throw – and split it into two coils. Standing at the bow, the crew can then guide whoever is helming towards the mooring buoy. Approach the buoy into wind or tide, or a combination of the two, whichever will allow you to gently come to halt and hover by the buoy whilst the crew throw the line over it. The line will now sink around the buoy and as you start to drift backwards and will capture the buoy by it’s chain.

This is only a temporary solution – the chain will eventually saw through the mooring line and you will drift off but it does take the pressure off the helmsman by saving them the trouble of having to dance around the buoy while the crew try to put a line through a tiny eye a metre or more below the deck height.

Now that you ‘attached’ to the mooring buoy, you are in a position to pull yourselves closer to the buoy with the temporary line and reach down to put a proper line through the eye on the top of the buoy.  Alternatively, you could get the tender out and motor round to the front of your boat and put the proper line through from a more friendly height.

Another method in light wind and tide conditions, but without a pickup line, is to pass the mooring line through the eye on the buoy at the stern of your boat, or for yachts, amidships. Ask your crew to tie the mooring line on at the bow, pass the line through the forward fairlead, keeping the line outside the rail and then down the deck to the stern. Now, motor towards the buoy, again into wind or tide as explained previously but as you get to the buoy creep past it, so that you stop with the buoy just forward of the stern. Your crew member, standing on the bathing platform, holding the mooring line, can now easily reach the eye on the buoy. They pass the line through the eye and walk up the side deck with the line, which is then attached at the bow as normal. Whilst the crew walks the line forward, the boat will slowly drift backwards and you will end up in the correct mooring position, just as the crew ties the line onto the forward cleat.

Beware though, some of these mooring buoys bite! They can be metal, rusty, big, heavy and have sharp bits. If you intend to attach yourself to a buoy by having a crew member pass the line through at the stern, I suggest you select the buoy with care, or put your boat on the ‘down wind’ or ‘down tide’ side of the buoy, so you aren’t drifted onto it as you drift back.

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

 

 

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