Training on how to pick up a mooring ball


When training people in sailing and cruising, one of my mantras, as an instructor is: "The sailing itself is easy, it is all the rest which is complex" - and that "rest" might be route planning, weather forecasts, pilotage, tidal planning, and certainly maneuvering a boat under engine.

The latter sounds easier than it really is. A sailboat does not react like a car: you can not stop a sailboat just like you stop a car. And when you stop a sailboat, you no longer have steerage, so the wind or current will push you in one or the other direction and you loose control. So learning how to "keep control" of a sailboat under engine, is a crucial part of learning how to sail....

Here, in a picture taken yesterday, we are practicing picking up a mooring ball (a practice needed as in many anchorages, you HAVE to use a mooring ball and can not drop anchor). For the practice, we throw a fender, tied to a bundle of a mooring line (so the fender does move with the wind). One person at the helm, and one person on the bow.

The person on the bow indicates, with the boat hook in one hand, like a spear, the direction where the fender/mooring ball is, and with the other hand, indicates the distance from the mooring ball, as of 5 meters (as the person at the helm will not see the mooring ball from where she/he stands). The person on the bow leans onto the forestay to keep balance.

In the picture, you see the mooring ball in the water in front of the boat, in the water. The bow person in the picture indicates "straight ahead at distance of 5 meters" (5 fingers shown). The person at the helm approaches the mooring ball slowly, into the wind, and stops the boat when the mooring ball is right at the bow, so the person at the bow, can pick up the mooring ball with the boat hook, at ease. The art is not to "overrun the mooring ball", but also to get close enough so we can grab the mooring ball with the boat hook.

As with all maneuvers on a boat: we do this maneuver slowly, under control, no shouting, no stress. No talking or shouting commands (as if there is wind, the bow and helm will not hear each other).

And as with all maneuvers: "practicing makes master!". We teach people first under easy conditions (little wind, little swell and little current), and then make it gradually more difficult, up to the point they can pick up a mooring ball under 25 kts of wind and a heavy swell.... 


Post a Comment

To avoid spamming and profanity, comments will only show up after I (manually) clear them.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Kind people supporting The Road to the Horizon:
Find out how you can sponsor The Road

  © Blogger template The Business Templates by 2008

Back to TOP