Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bland answers.

I put up another of my motorcycles for sale. A Honda CB250N Superdream. This was the first big seller amongst the bikes arriving from the far east. They are almost a cult symbol today.

Within four hours, the bike was sold. I think that a lot of people are using bikes for cheap commuting to and from their place of work. The bike will be 32 years old in September and has now gone to someone who will cherish her the same as I did. You have to be a biker to understand the sentiment.

The bike had been stripped down and a full restore / rebuild carried out. The condition was as good as new, with the exception of a small amount of pitted chrome on the passenger grab handles.

So enough of the biker twaddle - today's topic is... Mooring using a centre line.

On a canal forum in a galaxy far far away. Someone new to boating asked the question "What's wrong with using a centre line to moor a boat?". The real answer to the question is, "There is no problem with using a centre line to moor a boat".

Circumstances will change the mooring options that you use and you might find that the centre line is the better option.  Generally the centre line is only used for short periods on a boat. My take is, if there is a centre line fitted on a boat - then its there to be used. Saying that I would never use a centre line on a boat that was going to be left unattended. Unless your BW mooring like ours is on a short pontoon and you can only use the front and centre or back and centre line at the same time.

The answers given to many questions on forums are often are quite bland. Bland statements can cause problems and confusion for someone new to boating that a detailed statement might avoid. 

When someone asks what's wrong with using a centre line to moor a boat. The answer will vary depending on the purpose you mooring the boat for. Whether it is good practice to moor a boat using the centre line will depend on many factors.

The first thing to note is the difference in height between the fore and aft lines where they are tied off on the boat. The centre line is quite high on the roof, whilst the fore and aft lines are at gunwale level. This is where problems can arise. Lines are more secure if they are pulling in a straight line towards the gunwale. Because the centre line is tied off to the roof it will tend to tighten, angled down towards the bank. This tightening of the centre line can cause the boat to lean in towards the bank.  Due to the angle of dangle, this will also place extra strain on any mooring pins used.

Mooring using a centre line only.
Generally speaking you would never moor up for long periods, just using a centre line. If you are using a lock that can hold more than one boat, then the centre line is good for giving additional control over the boat as the water rises or falls.  If the rope is tied off, as the water level changes, the rope is at risk of pulling tight due to the upward or downward movement of the boat. In a lock the boat is going to be moored only for a short time, the centre line passed round a bollard (not tied off) and back to the helmsman. The line can be used to help control boat movement within the lock.

If you are on a lock pontoon waiting your turn to go into the lock, then the centre line is probably the better option to use as you edge your way along towards the front of the queue.

If you are mooring up over night.
It would be better to use the fore and aft lines and if there is some movement in the water you might also need to deploy a spring to moor the boat. If there is likely to be some rise or fall in the water level. Then the deployment of the mooring lines will have to take into account, that movement and to allow some slack to be taken up by the movement.

The centre line is your friend.
I always trail the centre line back along the roof, with the tail end close to the steering position. As I come in to moor, I take off as much forward movement of the boat as possible. I get off the boat with the stern and centre line. I drop the stern rope in the clear as I get off. I then use the centre line to pull the boat in close. If there is a bollard or other anchoring point available I tie off the centre line. The Memsahib will then deploy the front or stern line. Depending on circumstances such as water movement we will tie-up the front or back first. The trick is to tie off the upstream line first. Any water movement will then help to hold the boat into the bank.

So the answer is "there is no problem with using a centre line to moor a boat, as long as you understand the issues".



  1. Had a 400 super dream......first bike ever brought brand new, had a 400t before that, but it has soft cams but I preferred the look. The 400 took us all over the uk camping. No wonder I love my pan so much. Happy days


  2. Hi Nev, just sold my pan euro as well. I loved that bike, I think I was hoping no one would go for it. First one to see it bought it.

    Have a Honda cbf 600 and a BMW 1100rt plus mag's monkey bike in the garage.

    as you say, many happy days.

    Mick and Mags.


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