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Old 29-08-2008, 07:31   #1
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Picking up a mooring under sail

I intend to practice sailing up to the mooring ball in case of engine failure. I have done it only once.

The below link describes 2 techniques, Luffing On A Close Reach and "Shooting" A Mooring. Since this is only my second year sailing my Morgan 36T, I thought I would reach out for any tips and different ways of doing it.

Mooring Pickup :
http://www.nyss.com/down/masters/Part06.pdf

Thanks
Paul
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Old 29-08-2008, 07:43   #2
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You need to know how long it takes for your boat to lose way... how many boat lengths and also under different wind conditions. Since you are sailing if there is a strong breeze it will stop the boat quicker, but you might be sailing a bit faster. Just practice.

And of course you need to consider the nearby moored boats as well.

Why don't you try to pinch until the boat it hardly moving forward. If you are making too much way fall off. gybe and try again.
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Old 29-08-2008, 07:57   #3
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I've tried both, but feel sailing on a close reach and luffing the sails provides more consistency and slows everything down giving you more time to react and a larger safety margin. However, the wind strength, and location of obstructions such as other boats, reef or shore will all dictate what approach is practical.

It's not a bad idea to practice with your engine in neutral, so you have power available if needed.

Also, I think it's helpful to practice anchoring under sail first. The techniques are similar, but the point at which the boat stops doesn't need to be as exact. Besides, if I was engineless, I'd anchor much more than pick up moorings.

I had one trip where I lost my engine in the Bahamas, spending the last couple weeks either anchoring or picking up a mooring under sail. I was glad I practiced these techniques previously.
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Old 29-08-2008, 11:00   #4
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I do all my under sail close in maneuvers under genoa alone. Mooring, docking etc.

It's the only sail that you can completely release under any point of sail.

If you have to come into a dock oriented downwind the main won't do it.

MOB is the exception as I figure when.if it happens I will have both sails up and no time to drop the main. I flog the genny and do a pretty normal close haul to beam reach leward of the target.
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Old 29-08-2008, 11:27   #5
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Practice first by approaching a fender in the water with a little weight on one end, away from everything else.
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Old 29-08-2008, 12:04   #6
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We sail to the mooring infrequently with our current boat. The toughest part is estimating how far the boat will carry. Get one of the SS mooring pick em uppers, very handy.

Practice picking up the mooring when the buoy is not on the lee shore. If you miss, so what, try it again.

West Marine: Grab-N-GO Mooring Hook Product Display
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Old 06-09-2008, 19:27   #7
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Well I've never used an engine to pick up a mooring, although I've never sailed a boat larger than a soling.

I do what defjef suggests. I pinch, and approach at a snail's pace. When someone has hold of the mooring, I let go of everything. If I stall, I bear off and go round again.

What happens when you try to park a boat in a slip or alongside a dock without an engine? I imagine those tasks become pretty challenging.
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Old 06-09-2008, 20:00   #8
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Paul, I would second David's suggestion that you drop a fender (or any float) with a weighted line so it will stay put. Then practice coming up to it any way you please.

As long as you time it to lose way and "stall out" alongside, you'll be able to pick up the mooring. If you come in too patiently--and it will take measured patience--so what, you can fall off, circle around, and come back for it again. I suspect most of us don't pick up the mooring on the first shot every time!

On a 36 it will pay to have a mooring whip so that you can pick that up without much effort, and then bring one pennant aboard to make fast. If you are solo, running back and forth can be a good trick, but you can always rig a spare line outside of the rail, and pick up the mooring while you are at the helm--then walk the line forward and make fast.

When I was learning to sail the first guy on the boat made the mooring in one shot on the first attempt. And then we spent nearly an hour uintil one of us could so it a second time. (It's gotten better since then.[g])
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Old 06-09-2008, 20:39   #9
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Shooting a mooring is something of a lost art.

An old sailor once told me of his time crewing on a 120ft gaff rigged racing schooner out of Marblehead (Massachusetts, US). This schooner had no engine. For those who haven't been there, Marblehead harbor is long, narrow, wide open to the East and full of beautiful boats.

When there was a good wind out of the east, the skipper of this schooner loved to entertain the folks on the yacht club porch by entering the harbor downwind under full sail. He would sail right throught the fleet to the far end of the harbor and - at the last possible moment before hitting the beach - turn 180 degrees into the wind towards her mooring. Since a 120ft schooner "shoots" a longggg way there would then be suficient time for the crew to furl the sails, put the sail covers on, and be serving the owner's party tea in the cockpit as she coasted to a perfect stop at the mooring pin.

Since I don't have an appropriate tea set on board, I use the pinch mooring method recommended by others.

Carl
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Old 06-09-2008, 21:09   #10
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I do it...

about three to four times per week solo. I grew up doing it so it's a very comfortable act for me. I was also a commercial lobsterman so I am also comfortable using the boat hook to fetch things out of the water. I do not use a pick up buoy..

My technique is slightly different and involves knowing and understanding very well how your boat behaves.

I usually sail on a reach, broad reach or run, never close hauled, under main only. I come in about 30-50 yards bellow my ball, depending on wind speed. As I approach about the 4:30 mark to the ball I let the main go and turn into the wind. The inertia glides me to the ball. When within about 8-10 feet of the ball I go on deck extend my boat hook and grab my pendants.

The trick is to get he boat to stall or stop moving from inertia just about the time you pick up the pendants.

So far this year I'm at about a 95% success rate in winds bellow 20 knots and about 80% in winds above (my boats bow really likes to peel off in high winds). It takes practice but it is easily learned. Practice inertia moves until you have the feel for your boat.

Always pick up the mooring with your boat headed into the wind and never try to pick it up solo if you're coming in too hot!!

By the time you get to the ball your boat should be moving at bellow .5 knots with very little inertia left. If in a current pick a spot slightly high of the ball and you'll land at the ball..

the #1 most important thing in this whole procedure is to KNOW YOUR BOAT..
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Old 07-09-2008, 19:48   #11
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Aloha Paul,
We teach a technique called shooting and always start with approaching the mooring ball on a beam reach as fast as you can sail using both main and jib or genny. At 2 boat lengths dead downwind we put the helm over quickly to point directly at the mooring and let the sails fly. We practice a lot and after everyone masters it then we let the sailors try all kinds of different variations on the same theme and see what happens. Our fin keelers don't sail well with a genny only but our folkboats do so everyone needs to be very familiar with their boat's handling characteristics when experimenting with picking up a mooring. Catamarans stop dead as soon as you point them to windward so, of course, it doesn't work well for them.
The key to this exercise is that every boat is a little different but 2 boat lengths is what most modern boats will carry heading directly into the wind after sailing on a beam reach and making your turn.
Good luck in your experiments.
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Old 07-09-2008, 22:00   #12
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Just an idea, for the single handed. Run a rope from a bow cleat outside of everything and secure it somewhere near the wheel/tiller... pull up next to the ball so you can grab it with the hook from the cockpit, quickly tie the rope quickly off to the ball/pendant/whathaveyou and let it go, you'll drift back, but only as far as the rope lets you, you then leisurely make your way up front, haul yourself in to the bouy with your rope and then secure yourself properly.

Never tried it, but plan to soon. Any opinions/criticisms?
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Old 07-09-2008, 22:11   #13
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My technique leaves something to be desired, but it works.

I would come in on a close reach, and with a 70' line or so running from a cleat on the bow and the bitter end in the cockpit, I bring the ball up on the windward. Then I put the line through the eyelet, yank the downhaul on the jib (the only thing up), and grab the line and start walking the boat into the wind. I either hop in the dinghy or try to grab the chain from the bow. On a high bowed boat, you need to get into the dinghy.

This might sound like a really bad strategy now that I type it out, but it worked well for a summer when I was on a ball and sailing almost every day. I had an Atomic 4, hence my manuevering skills under sail were good. I've gotten rusty lately.
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Old 07-09-2008, 22:22   #14
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Acoustic uses the same method I do--you can control your speed very precisely on a beam reach by easing the main sheet. You can also control your separation from your mooring ball very precisely by sailing a tangent to a circle about xx boat lengths away from your mooring. The xx represents the distance your boat takes to stop in the current wind. Train to sail at the same speed regardless of windspeed until you are dead downwind of your mooring, xx boatlentghts away, depending on how strong the wind is, then turn up into the mooring, luffing your sails and coasting to a stop right at your ball.

Brett
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Old 08-09-2008, 03:06   #15
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Just an idea, for the single handed. Run a rope from a bow cleat outside of everything and secure it somewhere near the wheel/tiller... pull up next to the ball so you can grab it with the hook from the cockpit, quickly tie the rope quickly off to the ball/pendant/whathaveyou and let it go, you'll drift back, but only as far as the rope lets you, you then leisurely make your way up front, haul yourself in to the bouy with your rope and then secure yourself properly.

Never tried it, but plan to soon. Any opinions/criticisms?
Try it...you will like it.....This makes life a lot easier.

A cleated line from the cockpit lead through the bow roller ( inside) to the cockpit (outside) with a pinched hook on the end. Because the cockpit is lower it is easier to reach.

If you make the hook (or get someone to) make it so that it has the hook, an eye and a tube that fits the back of your permanent boat hook. You hold line to keep it on the end of the "stick". Once hooked just let it go and put your permanent boat hook away. If the hook has a curve that is slightly greater than a half circle with a "bill" on the end (that is a straight section that helps to hook up in the first place) it will very rarely fall off once hooked even if you toss it.

It means you dont have to leave the helm. You can keep the boats momentum up making it easier if you are on a lee shore. If you miss you go around again. If you get it you just let everything fly. The rope length will pull the boat around quite gently (unless you are doing a silly speed). Douse the main. (or not if you have come up under head sail(s) alone) Drop the head sail. By this stage the boat will be lying somewhere sort of head to wind. Stick the line on a sheet winch and pull yourself up. It limits the freak out factor !!! Good to have the setup on board if you are solo, just in case of engine failure.
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