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Finger Pontoon Mooring

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Martin&Rene View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 March 2021 at 11:15
Another MyHanse forum member had requested details of the mooring technique that I had mentioned in an earlier post.  Having written up a description for him, I thought a I might as well post it here.

When we bought our Hanse 341 in 2009, my wife and I were long term dinghy racers, but had only chartered yachts on a few occasions in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.  Hence being given a berth at Largs Marina was our first encounter with finger pontoons.

The Problems

Our problems arose as follows;

·         As neither of us had that much experience of close situation boat handling, we had decided that my wife would helm the yacht during berthing and I would do the rope and shore work, as this fitted our physical attributes.  So, we wanted an easy confident giving method.

·         Particularly early in the year, the east or south- east winds can blow strongly off the hills and down into Largs Marina.  For our allocated berth, this would mean that the winds were on our starboard aft quarter as we approached down the main aisle and then as we turned to port it would be on our port aft quarter as we went into the berth, pushing us into the slot and off the pontoon as we moored port side to.

·         The yacht kicked to starboard in reverse, thus any action to slow the yacht down would pull it away from the pontoon.

·         Our berthing partner was a posh 11m long power boat with large flared bows, so any thought of "gently lying alongside" and pulling the boat across was out of the question.

We tried various simple mid-spring or quarter spring techniques, but either the stern swung away from the pontoon if the yacht was put in reverse, or the bow blew off the pontoon as the effect of prop wash on the rudder was small, because the propeller was so far from the rudder, so steering the yacht into the pontoon has minimal effect.  In addition, none of the techniques were positive in guaranteeing that the bows were stopped away from the main walkway.  Many Largs sailors use a shore based mid-spring that they grab hold off from a pick up post.

Our Solution

I decided to make a combined mid-spring and stern line that I could use as our "parking lines" which I could just slip over the cleat at the end of the finger pontoon as we came in.


  

·         I made a loop of rope about 40cm dia of 10mm rope with a small section of plastic tube (ex vacuum cleaner hose) to keep it slightly open.  To this loop I attached two lines. (Yellow line on diagram)

·         The first line, 10-12mm thick, should not be too elastic and is rigged so that it goes through a mid fairlead in the toe-rail and then onto a mid cleat.  This line is marked so that it can be easily set so that when the yacht is moored at the pontoon, it is held about 0.5m from the walkway. (Red line) (white rope in picture below)

·         The second line, also around 10-12mm dia., goes from the loop, under the guard-rails, to the genoa winch with one turn and then into the self-tailer and is marked so that when taut it would just allow the yacht to go fender to fender alongside our partner boat. (Green line)(red rope in picture below)


So, our mooring procedure is when we approach the berth, I can stand near the shroud with the loop in my hand and also holding the line that will become our bow spring which has been looped over the yacht’s bow cleat.  I step off the yacht onto the pontoon and just slip the "parking line" loop over the pontoon end cleat.  If we are coming in fast (ie if the wind is strong) then the helm may apply a small amount of reverse, but then they start winching in the stern line to keep the stern near the pontoon and the yacht still moving forward.  As the mid-spring line comes tight, it stops the yacht going forward and the yacht swings into the pontoon.  We normally have a fender right at the bow, but I can also just move down the pontoon and steady the bow.  I then normally just put the bow spring line temporarily onto the forward cleat on the far side of the pontoon to secure the yacht to act as a bow line.


We then consider the yacht "parked".  Bow and stern mooring lines are looped over the pontoon cleats and made off on the yacht.  The bow and stern springs are brought to the mid cleat on the pontoon and made off there.  As the 2 springs cross, one of them has a plastic sleeve on it to prevent chafe.

(Note One rope to one mooring line.  Fenders tied off to the base of the stanchions, not the guard rails.)

(Actually my yacht does not have a fixed mid-cleat, but I have a detachable one that can slide on the genoa tracks.  Pfeiffier marine spring cleat)

https://www.compass24.com/deck/fittings/cleats/45005/pfeiffer-marine-spring-cleats?sPartner=google_products_com&number=849904_8&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=freeshopping&gclid=CjwKCAjw6fCCBhBNEiwAem5SO-ufRjuKdlBqxCPJk45obEpWBjTITV5JWpz-leXohB10OjpBbyH_OhoCGPMQAvD_BwE

We may take off the "parking lines", but if it is likely that the wind will be blowing us into the berth when we leave then I will leave them on.  To depart, we then take off the springs and the proper stern line.  Then it is just a case of un-looping the bow line of the pontoon cleat and then slipping the "parking line" loop off the pontoon end cleat as the yacht starts to move back.  Actually, we often will just set the loop on the outer horn of the cleat, so it just slips of on its own as we reverse out and the initial tension on it counteracts the prop-walk.

When we go to another marina, we either ask the length of the allocated finger pontoon or guess its length, by looking at other boats, and then adjust the length of the mid-spring accordingly, erring on the short side of course.

When we talk to other people, they sometimes seem to think we are over-complicating things, but then you watch them either struggle to get into a "blowing off" berth or, more likely, take the easy option of going for a "blowing on" berth and put up with squeaky fenders and hope the wind drops before they leave.  We are so confident, we will nearly always go for the "blowing off" berth, and these are often the ones that have been left free.

This year’s task; practice dropping the loop over the pontoon cleat using a boat hook, whilst I am still stood on the yacht.

Another idea is for when we have to turn round in a tight space.  The conventional idea of alternate bursts of forward and stern power does not work, as the saildrive propeller is too far away from the rudder.  So, we do, what in skiing terms, would be called a pre-turn.

In one harbour, we often go down a narrow channel between the long pontoon and the shore and with the wind behind us we want to turn round to moor up alongside the pontoon, starboard side to, head to wind.

We go down the channel and when we want to turn around, we move to the port side of the channel at a speed of around 1kt.  We then turn sharply to starboard and then as the yacht crosses the middle of the channel, turn sharply to port.  The idea is that the yacht develops so much angular momentum in the initial part of the turn to port, that it continues turning even when the wind starts blowing on the bow in the last part of the turn.  In that instance, a burst of reverse at the end of the turn, slows the yacht and pulls the stern in so we are parallel to the pontoon.

If we were just aiming to turn the yacht around in a tight channel, I would probably go the other way round.

There are a number of charter boats near us and a common mistake that the charterers make is to drive the yacht like they drive a car.  Reverse out, out of reverse gear, change helm engage forward drive and they do not recognise that the yacht is still going backwards when they change the helm and so they kill the turn too early.


Martin&Rene Hanse 341 Dipper Wheel steering, 3 cabin layout & shallow keel, normally based in Scotland
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Magicol View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Magicol Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 March 2021 at 20:38
Thanks for such a detailed explanation and really helpful strategy. We too, were new to bigger boats in 2017; so far, our favoured method for berthing on our home pontoon finger is with a single fixed midship portside spring aft with a hose strengthened loop that can be dropped from the boat over the shore cleat. We then motor against that with wheel hard over to starboard and one of us steps ashore. However, this relies on a longer finger and we have found much shorter fingers more difficult including one rather embarrassing ‘coming together’ in Portavadie! I will try experimenting with the two lines aft on one loop strategy this year.
Hanse 345 #237 based on the Clyde
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Ian2019 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian2019 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2021 at 08:42
Great discription and interesting read will take the idea of fenders tried off round the bottom of the stanchions.

However, highjacking your thread on another mooring challenge. I was wondering if any forum members had figured out a mooring solution for a Mediterranean stern to mooring with slime lines for a single handed sailor, no assistance from ashore. I have a permenant mooring on a fingure jetty but have to Medy moor. I leave all my lines on the jetty when I go out and on return the idea is to come in stern too and gentally rest the stern against the jetty and increase the revs with the engine going astern to pin her to the berth take the windward sternline and then try to take the winward slimeline. When both lines are secured then adjust the lines so she lies 2mt off the jetty and then sort out the rest. My concern is that the feeder lines on the slime line can get taken-in by the prop, as they have done once. I was wondering if any one has ideas of doing this differently??
Cheers 
H385 #317 2014 "ARLOKO" Tivat Montenegro
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350Bob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 350Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2021 at 12:07
Hi Ian,

Thankfully I have never had to do this single handed, the only other option I can think of, would be to set up the other way around by taking the stern lines with you. Then as you come in drop the windward stern line over the bollard or cleat ashore, using a prepared loop held open with a piece of hose threaded over the rope. You then hold the boat square with the right amount of forward throttle while you get the second stern line on in the same way as the first. Increasing the throttle a little should give you a stable position to go ashore and pick up the lazy line, hopefully pulling far enough away to the side to keep clear of the prop.

As I say I have never had to do it like this, but it may be an option worth thinking about.

Bob
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Ian2019 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian2019 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 March 2021 at 04:33
Thanks Bob for your sugestion and next time out I'll give it a go. I do have markers in my sternlines and springs so I know at what length to cleat them off at which helps.
Cheers
H385 #317 2014 "ARLOKO" Tivat Montenegro
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