Mooring Your Boat Safely
When getting ready to moor your boat, there are two very simple but absolute paramount rules to absolutely reduce risk and thus ensure a safe mooring. Be prepared and kill your speed, this article explains why they are so important!
To state the blindingly obvious boats do not have any stop button or brakes and so there is no immediate way of stopping (anchors can be used in emergencies but clearly even these must find suitable grounding for which there is never any immediate certainty). As a result when planning to moor your boat, there are two very simple but absolute paramount rules, firstly make sure you are prepared for mooring and secondly kill your speed in advance of beginning to moor.
The first and perhaps not so obvious piece of advice with regard to mooring your boat safely is to ensure you are adequately prepared. We’ll assume you’ll already have your life-jacket on as perhaps there is no more likely time when you will fall in than when mooring!
Ensure those that will be jumping onto the landing stage are wearing sensible footwear and ensure mooring ropes are positioned freely and sensibly to avoid tripping (and loosely coiled if planning to throw to someone). This seems such an obvious advice but is all too easily forgotten or overlooked by even the most experienced boaters.
When preparing to moor, also position your vessel early on to the correct angle of approach (in consideration and allowing for any side currents and side winds).
Ensure passengers are not sitting or standing in lines of sight needed for mooring (i.e. on top of the vessel or sitting along the sides of the vessel).
Next survey what is ahead to ensure no potential hazards (e.g. other boats, shallow waters), if there are decide whether to kill all speed and wait or, ensuring you have signalled your intentions proceed carefully.
Finally also have any mooring pins, mallets or clips ready to hand and take one final check to ensure anything else that may get in the way when mooring is removed to prevent any hazard.
Kill Your Speed
This most critical of points speaks for itself. When preparing to moor, once you have set the appropriate course to the mooring platform, there is rarely anything other than a need for you to travel dead slow.
The key advantage of dead slow means that should be need to make minor redirection as you get close to landing stage you can give an appropriate engine spurt with full turn applied that will make the adjustment but without the danger of suddenly taking on lots of additional speed. Failing all else you can also drop the boat into reverse but this is more complex and can overly put stress on your gearing/ engine if done without due care.
For those that are new starters as a boat insurance company we would also always recommend that new starters should avoid attempting to moor down stream, the inevitable additional speed makes mooring much more difficult so better leave that to the experienced sailors until you’ve done at least a few sound still/ up water moorings.
Your vessel should be supplied with and thus carry metal mooring stakes, these are for use for where there are no suitable mooring rings. Via the use of a mallet these should be driven firmly into the ground and a suitable light-coloured marker tied around the top to prevent any towpath users from tripping.
Besides suitable light-coloured markers, care should also already have been taken to ensure that mooring lines do not cross the towpath.
In tidal areas and flowing areas such as rivers, it is also always advisable to moor the vessel only at marked or recognised sites. These sites will be designed with consideration for any rise or fall of water levels.
Our Final Advice
For those new to mooring up their boats it can be a rather stressful time, particularly if there are lots of onlookers! Take a few simple deep breathes and remember if you’ve followed this basic advice you have little to worry about (whilst risks of something unforeseen always exist, you’ll have massively diminished them by killing your speed and adequately preparing). Any problems are merely an opportunity to learn, just re-adjust and then try again… enjoy your boating!