Saturday, 25 February 2012

On Manoeuvres (10)

This is one of an occasional series of tips about manoeuvring a narrow-boat on the canals and rivers. There may be other ways to achieve the same result. However, the method has been devised or adapted by me using trial and error. (Trial and Error are two of my regular boating companions) Our boat is 50 feet long and has a keel depth of twenty five inches and weighs in at a tad over eighteen tons. The techniques described are intended to help new comers to boating.

How to securely moor your boat.

Once you have brought your boat into the point where you intend to moor for a short period of time. Where there is little wind or current you can secure your boat using only the centre rope. Places where you might only moor for a short period are on a lock mooring or lock pontoon. In moving water or if there are strong winds, you may need to secure an additional lines to the front and the rear of the boat. The additional lines will normally be deployed at the upstream or upwind end of the boat first.

Often at recognised long term mooring places, mooring bollards and rings are provided for mooring your boat.
Tip :1 It is OK to share a mooring bollard or mooring ring with another boat. Bollards and rings are not exclusive to each boat. This will also ensure in areas with restricted amounts of mooring space that the available space is maximised and used to best effect.

Securing your boat can be one of the more difficult tasks to accomplish if there are no mooring bollards or mooring rings available. When the ground is wet and soft it can be hard to ensure that your boat is securely moored. You need to prepare yourself for mooring in advance of arriving and to have all the bits and pieces to hand ready for action. You will need two or more mooring pins and a heavy mooring mallet to set the pins securely into the bank.

The mooring pin is a steel bar about two feet long or longer that we knock into the bank with the heavy steel mallet.  The mooring lines are then attached to the mooring pins to secure the boat.

Whenever mooring in out of the way places you will need to use mooring pins. Do not knock the mooring pin in vertical as it is easier for a rope to slip off the pin. By driving the mooring pin in at at an angle away from the boat the rope is less likely to slip off the pin. Mooring pins sometimes have a small loop welded on, so that a mooring line can be passed through to improve the security.

In soft earth be prepared to deploy extra mooring pins. You can daisy chain several pins to a single line. In this way the load on the line is shared by two or more pins. Alternatively you can deploy extra lines and pins to share the load. Don’t forget to look around for additional "natural mooring pins" like substantial trees and posts.
Tip :2 Try and place the mooring pins in such a way that the mooring lines are kept level with the gunwale. This will reduce the angle of pull on the pins which in turn will help to stop the pins being dislodged by any boat movement.

In some places the bank side will have steel pilings and the mooring pin can be driven down behind the piling to give additional stability. Some pilings have a steel rail attached and the space between the rail and the piling can be used to moor your boat. I prefer to use a mooring chain in this circumstances as there can be sharp cutting edges on the rail that will chafe at a mooring line.

A mooring chain is a short length of chain with a large ring and a small ring (eyes) attached at the ends. You pass the chain round the piling rail passing the small ring or eye through the big ring or eye. In this way a very secure link is made to the piling rail. The mooring line is then attached in the usual way to the small ring or eye.
Tip :3 Be prepared to use a mixture of mooring pins, anchors, mooring chains, bollards, rings and trees to secure your boat. Each method of mooring is not exclusive.

You must only use the banking between the tow path and the water to place your pins. Mooring lines and mooring pins are tripping hazards. A trip in the dark, maybe a trip into the canal. Never place a line across a tow path. Walkers, fishermen, cyclist and other boaters may use the footpath at any time of day or night.

Mark you lines and pins in a way that they can be seen in the dark. I use a small strips of white cloth that can wave around in the breeze. I have seen small lights, day-glo pennants, balloons and even white plastic milk bottles used to make lines and pins more visible. If you are stuck for something to use, then a loop of newspaper can be an effective way of marking out the position of your lines and pins.
Tip :4 Small led keyring lights attached to lines and pins will let you check your mooring at night without having to leave your boat.

Another alternative is to anchor your boat. If your boat is going to be used on a river then an anchor is an essential item. There are a large number of anchor types. Categorised by design and weight. If you are not physically strong enough to deploy or recover an anchor, after use. Then use two or more smaller lighter ones. The anchor should have a chain fitted to help the line sink to the bottom as the anchor bites by being drawn at a shallow angle along the bottom.

Mud anchors are another option that can be used in still water. I use two 56 pound Avery weigh scale weights as mud anchors. Each is attached to a short line for deployment. They work surprisingly well and can be easily retrieved.

There is a further anchor item available called a "Rhond Anchor". Which technically is not an anchor at all, as you use it to secure to the bank. (Rhond apparently is a Norfolk colloquial name for the bit of bank between the river and the flood bank) Shaped like a fishing hook with an eye and ring to attach a mooring line. The construction of the rhond anchor actually pulls the anchor deeper into the ground as the mooring line pulls tight.


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