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Old 27-01-2010, 18:59   #1
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Why Do Otherwise Smart Mariners Do This ?

OK here's my rant: we've been at a mooring now for a week. Various trawlers, mono's and cats have come and gone during our stay. The city mooring field has your basic steel mooring ball and a 24" nylon pennant / loop that runs through the hard metal eye atop the mooring ball.

My question is, WHY does everyone (except me) trust that pennant to hold their boat? Each and every one of the boats that have come & gone just pass a line through the pennant, cleat it off on the bow and then go below to sleep.

Let me guess how old that pennant is...
Let me guess how strong that line is after 'X' years of sun, wind & water....

It's bad enough that I have to trust the mooring itself - when was it last inspected, how old is the chain, etc. But I can tell you that IF they find me washed up on the beach, it will be with a mooring ball firmly attached to my bridle - mooring shackle attached to a heavy swivel attached to the 2 legs with shackles and hard eyes in the legs....

You wouldn't anchor using a 5-year old unknown condition line, so WHY is it OK to use those silly little pennants on the mooring ball? Don't trust 'em!!!


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Old 28-01-2010, 06:02   #2
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How do you know these things are NOT inspected? Are you making assumptions? I work for a mooring provider to a town up in New England, and every mooring is inspected every year, by contract. Furthermore, people who use them will generally report any problem to the harbormaster, and in that way, the pennants are sort of "inspected" every day.

Indeed, the mooring pennants generally last longer than the underwater shackles and chain. We see 3/4" chain sometimes only lasting 3-4 years, a well made pennant might last 6 years. Using your logic, I would think you would want to dive down on every mooring you use, and inspect ALL the gear before you sleep...

I agree that it's a good idea to have a good long look at the mooring pennant on a rental mooring before using it. But the gear you can't see can be in much worse condition; afterall, it is quite a simple task to change the pennant. A much bigger and costlier job to raise, inspect and replace the heavy gear.

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Old 28-01-2010, 08:58   #3
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In my opinion, it is foolhardy to simply tie on to the penant and not inspect it but it is perfectly acceptable to tie onto it and give it a quick inspection. Most of the penants that I have run across are at minimum 3/4" and often 1" which is plenty big for an overnight mooring in non storm conditions, especially if you will be aboard for the night in case the wind does pick up. Part of sailing is knowing how to inspect a line and you should be able to see how much chafe there is, how stiff it has gotten, etc. The advantage of using the penant is that it takes the chafe associated with lying against the ball which it should already be set up for. If you run a line direct to the chain, then you have to worry about putting in chafe gear. Now I have picked up a mooring where there was significant chafe to the penant and I used my own (but I was wondering about the underwater condition).

As Doug observed, my experience has generally been that the chain is the first thing to wear out. Excluding large storms, the only failures that I have seen were due to the metal parts below the water and not the penant.

My own complaint is how people attach to the penant. They will often run a line from one bow, through the eye, to the other bow. This allows the bow to fall off from the wind further and it allows the eye to slip around on the bridle causing chafe. If you are going to run a line through the mooring penant, you should run a doubled line from each side to eliminate sailing on the mooring and chafe.
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Old 28-01-2010, 09:13   #4
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The ones up in Bellingham bay are inspected yearly. They work pretty well I suppose considering we just had a storm last month with 70 knot winds and not a single boat got away.
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Old 28-01-2010, 09:19   #5
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We had one mooring fail on us. The steel link between the moring chain and ball failed. the entire field was affected (all the links were new from Cal June). The link was rated for 20,000 pounds but when tested failed at 800 pounds. We werre one of many boats that broke loose that evening and we are very lucky to still have our boat.

Ya never know but I certainly trust my ground tackle more then any mooring.
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Old 28-01-2010, 09:54   #6
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I don't know that I've ever seen a pennant on a mooring ball around the PNW. They all just have the steel ring to attach to. If there was a rope pennant then I would inspect it before using, but I would probably just ignore it and use the ring (why add one more variable into the equation?).

I see people pull into our bay and hook onto what are obviously private mooring balls, and never even give them a good tug in reverse before shutting the engine down and settling in for the night. Some of those moorings haven't been looked at for 6-8 years that I know of, maybe a lot longer, in fact nobody even knows who some of them belong to anymore. Blind faith/stupidity.
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:43   #7
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I agree, the only mooring I trust is our 176 lb Bruce. I don't care how many times moorings are inspected and how much money is spent on them... I still don't trust them. If I am forced to use a mooring and spend some time on it (not just a couple of nights), I take my anchor chain from the anchor and attach it all the way down to the mooring anchor or block.

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Old 28-01-2010, 12:08   #8
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I agree; I trust my 33kg Rocna, because I look at it and everything connected to it, every time I use it.

I've seen lots of great mooring balls (so far as I could see, anyway) and lots that didn't look any more secure than a crab trap. Sure, I'll do an initial hook up through the pennant, but that's just so I can get close enough to really look it over. I'll take the glass bottom bucket in the dinghy and get a close look, then adjust as need be. Seriously, this whole process (once the dink is in the water) rarely takes more than a few minutes.

Funny story, though: At Green Turtle in the Abacos, there are several mooring balls where the floats are these inflatable bouncing ball kid toys. They have a handle that is part of the ball -- just polyethylene. I saw this boat run their line through the plastic handle and then jump in the dink and take off before anything could be said. Of course, a few hours later a bit of blow came through, poof!, and there she goes!

So, sometimes, you have to wonder about just how smart the mariner was in the first place!

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Old 11-04-2010, 18:42   #9
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Fishermen here use anything they can to mark their fishpots. One of them used a mooring ball they found and dropped a fishpot right in the middle of a popular anchorage here.... I saw a boat pick it up and moor to it about 2 weeks back...

I thought it was pretty obvious it was not a good mooring as it had almost no play in the rope and it was only in about 10 feet of water and there were no other moorings anywhere to be seen yet lots of anchors dropped...
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:11   #10
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Who the mooring belongs to determines when and how well it was last inspected. Some private and government mooring fields are well inspected others are not. You need to have some understanding of what your getting into when you take a mooring.

Most mooring fields have rules on how you may use them. Most forbid any use of an anchor in combination with the mooring and forbid anchoring within a mooring field which should only be logical in a dense field particularly and in National Parks such as the one I'm in now. None that I know of will permit any secondary attachments to the existing system. Doing so could result in significant damage to the system that may not be easily observed between inspections. These are someones property and we have no right to misuse them. Where I'm located it would be a criminal offense.

Every skipper is responsible for determining what is safe for his boats use and the safety of the boat's crew. You can elect to use and inspect or you can elect to move to another area where anchoring is permitted.
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
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Old 12-04-2010, 13:27   #11
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I feel anything that attaches my boat to anything can potentially fail.

I have a great deal of confidence in my anchor and anchoring abilities, so I tend to trust it more than a mooring ball for the reasons you mentioned. I prefer to inspect them, but sometimes that''s not practical, just like it's not always practical to snorkel on my anchor.

I also think there are other issues involved in the confidence. Are these moorings regularly inspected? Are they fairly new? Do they regularly hold boats much bigger than yours?

I have a fairly light 30 footer. It's unlikely a mooring will hold a 40 foot boat and then break on me a short time later.

Also, what's the point in inspecting a mooring if you don't know how to evaluate what you see?

Much like snorkeling an anchor, many people are not good snorkelers and are not able to inspect it well even if the water is warm enough to do so.
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Old 12-04-2010, 13:52   #12
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When moorings have failed with boats on theme what percent of the failures are due to what failure?

I have no idea, but it would certainly be relevant to inspection.
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