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Old 04-06-2012, 16:00   #1
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Mooring Ball Questions

I am planning my first multi-day trip and would appreciate a little info.

The regs state that vessels at anchor must display a 360 light. If the vessel is on a mooring ball at a designated mooring field, is a light required?

Also, back when I was 16 I sailed off a mooring that was privately owned. There was a mooring ball and a small float with the lines we tied to. When you go to a public mooring field like Richenbacker in Miami, are there normally pickup floats with lines, or do you have to snag the ball and somehow tie onto it? In the case of the latter, dropping an anchor may be easier.

Thanks

Bill
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Old 04-06-2012, 16:12   #2
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

Lights must be displayed when moored in all but Coast Guard designated mooring fields which you will find in the Light List. A day mark, a black ball, must also be displayed during daylight hours but only large yachts seem to do this.
As for mooring balls, most have a pendant to which you would afix your line but some don't. Personally, I prefer to anchor. I know what the condition of my anchor and chain is but I have no knowledge of what lies below the surface of most moorings.
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Old 04-06-2012, 16:24   #3
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

Mooring fields are usually in "designated anchorage areas" and DAA's are marked on charts. If you're in a DAA you don't need to show a ball or a light. Otherwise you do (legally). In practice, anywhere there is a mooring field is treated as a DAA by the locals including the CG and Harbor Masters, and it will never be an issue if you aren't lit.
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Old 04-06-2012, 16:39   #4
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

Mooring balls available for rental almost always have at least one rope pennant attached, usually two. They may or may not have a pickup stick too. If no pickup stick you will need to retrieve the line with a boat hook.

Some municipal or state-run mooring fields are first-come first-served. In private fields the usual protocol is to contact the renting organization by VHF on their working channel (published in cruising guides or Activecaptain.com) or channel 9 if you don't know their working channel. They will ask about your length and draft and assign a mooring. It's appropriate for you to question the weight of the mooring and whether it has a pennant/stick (so you can prepare) and judge whether it's suitable for your boat given the expected forecast.

If it only has a ring, anchoring may be your best option, as it will be difficult to hook on if there's any significant wind. There are snap hooks sold for hooking moorings if you do that frequently. I have a multihull, and carry an extra rope bridle with snap hooks to use in place of (or in addition to) the pennant they provide.

If you pick up a mooring, it's a good idea to inspect whatever portion you can pull out of the water. If it looks like it hasn't been maintained you should trust your judgment and ask for a different one, stronger one, or simply say "no thanks" (considering your other options, such as anchoring).
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Old 04-06-2012, 17:04   #5
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

Whenever possible I do prefer to anchor, but in many places you are required to tie to a ball because of the crowded conditions. Also, in many places (Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific) we have had moorings with only a ring or very small loop. They are much harder to tie to, but sometimes that is the only choice so I think it's worth practicing. It's up to the helmsman to bring the ball along side the vessel and within reach of the person on the bow and as stationary as possible. You can't sail up to the ball and hope the bow person can catch it with a boat hook (we have watched a few boat hooks yanked from the person's hand as the boat went past the ball.) But it's not that hard, even with wind up to 15 kts, but it does take practice and if the first pass isn't perfect, just try again.

Even when an anchor light is not required, if there are small local boats (or other yachties) running around at night we will have a boom mounted anchor light to help them see us.
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Old 04-06-2012, 18:28   #6
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

It will never be an issue if there was a collision and your anchor light was on....period. So why not just leave one on and sleep well at night? There are no fines for having one when it is not required.
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Old 05-06-2012, 13:30   #7
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

It's not that difficult to catch a mooring ball without a pennant, even under sail and single-handed.

Just prepare a long line in sinking material (poyamide or polyester, not polypro), lead it from the bow to the lee shrouds and tie a wide bowline at the end. Arrive close-hauled, slow, as for picking a MOB, and drop the bowline over the mooring ball.

The loop will sink under the ball, effectively stopping the boat. Then, you have all the time you need to bend a line to the ball.

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Old 05-06-2012, 13:36   #8
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Re: Mooring Ball Questions

ibn mooring fields i donot use anchor light but i will use cockpit lighting with those led garden lights. folks arent usually speeding thru a designated mooring field. is a 5 kt limit with passing thru.
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Old 05-06-2012, 14:22   #9
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Thanks for the thoughts. Called the Richenbacker Marina they said all they have is a shackle on top of the ball. So it looks like the lasso method Hydra described is the way to go. Sounds like the key is the same as docking...... Slower the better.

And since having the anchor light on in a mooring field is not the sign of a rookie, I will probably turn it on when I go to sleep.

Cheers

Bill
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