Around and Around We Go
Yet another fun night on a mooring ball. The title of this section just might give it away. Tangling your ball is far less common than "going for a spin."
So... what are we talking about... spinning on your mooring ball. Why bother to bring this up? Because it is one of those little things that can add either humor or an additional layer of seasickness.
One gorgeous day of sailing behind us and it was time to pick up a ball for the evening. On this day we had just finished a long sail to Monkey Point on Guana Island and were ready for a quiet spot for the night. With the daylight we had left we knew we could make a nice reach for the North Sound. So we did. We were sailing a Catamaran that had a slightly different set up on the mooring lines than we were used to. This one had a dedicated mooring line with a metal clip on the end. We didn't like the gauge of the line nor did we like the metal clip (it was too small to clip on the mooring pennant and too small to loop both mooring lines though should we loop it.) We managed to find a safe workaround for this dedicated line, and hooked up. We checked the set up more than a few times in the first couple of hours. After that, we were positive that we would hold fast as long as the little forged metal clip didn't break!
We got our evening underway... showers, dinner, fun and games... the usual.
It was during dinner, eating inside at the dinning table, that a few of the crew started to look a bit "sour." No, no one got sick, but they didn't look quite right.
The one of the crew said that she felt like we were spinning! The Captain looked out the back windows and saw the lights of the nearby islands streaking by! He almost fell over laughing. We all stepped outside to see how the other yachts in the area were fairing at anchor (mooring). They all seemed to be moving as well but not as much as us. One thing for sure, we were the only ones spinning in circles! How the heck was this possible!? We inspected our mooring set up. Everything was as it should be, and we were secure. How weird.
The Captain discovered, if you don't look out the windows it was hard to tell we were spinning. So in his infinite wisdom... that's what our Captain ordered for the evening. Looking out the windows was off limits. Seemed simple enough...problem solved. Not really.
At least we entertained the other yachts parked for the night!
Though we took all this in good humor, unbeknownst to the crew, the Captain kept watch on our mooring connection and checked it every few hours.
The next morning we were still there though some of the crew didn't get the best sleep that night.
With fresh minds we set to solving this riddle. It is hard to call something like this a problem, it's more of a riddle.
Since we couldn't find something wrong, we enlisted the help of someone with more experience than us. Our good friend Ashley. She has been a staple in the North Sound for years and is a good friend of the Mayday Crew. Not to mention the fact that she was an Olympic sailor! We asked Ash if she could come aboard and see if she had any advice. Well, she did.
Ashley arrived early that morning. She walked to the bow and checked out mooring line set up. Immediately she said.. "guys, I know these things come with their own mooring line set up, but I'd rather not trust them." She then pulled a length of dock line out of the bow locker and compared it to the mooring line. The mooring line was about 1/4 the size of the dock line. She then said "do you see the difference? I would never trust a line this small, especially with a metal clip!." We then found out that the metal clip was the weak link in the "chain" so to speak. If this were to fail (it was casted metal) we would be off floating. She also told us that the pre-set length of the mooring line attached the yacht was way too short. Allowing the pennant from the mooring ball to slide side to side along the mooring line, helping us to spin to one side... then the clip would slide to the other side, helping us spin the rest of the way around. The wind would then catch the hull, push us the rest of the way around to complete the circle, the clip would slide back to the other side of the line and start the process all over again.
The length of the pre-installed mooring line was too short, the clip was too small, and the line too thin. There was no way to fix this. So we didn't.
Instead we took the good advice from Ash. We tied up the pre-installed mooring line and got it out of the way. We then set up our dock lines to take the place of the small mooring line. By using the dock line we added strength and the ability to adjust how much line we want or need out to keep the "swing" to a minimum. Not to mention that we removed the sketchy metal clip from the equation.
What We Did
We would adjust the amount of dock line until we created a "V" in the dock line bridle. We did this by tying off the dock line on the port side. When we pull the mooring pennant up we pass the dock line though the eye of the pennant and pass the other end of the dock line to the starboard side cleat. We now have a "V" in the dock line (called a bridle). This "V" helped keep the pennant eye in the bottom of the "V" and prevented swinging. Every yacht we have ever been on has been the same, yet different in its mooring set up. The general process is the same from yacht to yacht, it's that little 10% that's different that makes all the difference in the world.
This is a small issue, but anything to do with comfort on the water will not stay a small issue for long. It will catch up with you. By doing what we learned to do, you will be able to prevent this from happening to you (unless you like the spins), and you wont have to scratch your head sore trying to figure out the unobvious.
Besides, balls aren't made for swinging... they're for hanging (the boat on)!
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev