Coming alongside with only a few pairs of hands need not be a daunting manoeuvre when practised and following simple tips. Forming part of our close quarters day, we have explained a few ideas and ways to make this easy here.
The best part of this technique is that it works for both blown off and blown on situations.
Astern approach with drop loop
Foremost is the planning, as with any mooring, if unfamiliar, it should be approached and viewed first to make a plan. Always approach into tidal stream, never against. The next step is to rig up the stern morning line with a good size loop & rest this over the push-pit rail, have a good size fender on the aft corner too. Come into the pontoon on an angle of about 35 degrees, less if the space allows, keep your speed nice and slow, aiming your aft cleat at the cleat on the pontoon at the aft of the berth. The beauty of this technique is your right by the stern and have a clear view to line up and you’re by the engine controls. On aft cockpit cruisers, single handed this works really well, if you have a crew all they need to do is drop the loop over the cleat as you stop the momentum astern. This works well for centre cockpit boats.
Once the loop is on its just a simple driving forward onto the line to bring her alongside, don’t rush forward, the tide and propulsion is doing its job.
When you touch the pontoon – yourself or your crew can lasso the bow line on or step off to secure. It’s really as simple as that!
If it goes wrong or you feel you need to come away to approach again, the good news is your bow is pointing in the right direction and all you need to do is drive out and set yourself up again.
Clip & Line method (this one can be for another time if too long)
There’s another great mooring technique for shorthanded crews that involves a stainless clip (sold in most good chandlers) attached to approximately 10m of line. Here, you clip this to the aft guard wire (so you know there’s sufficient length aft), feed the tail end of the line outboard and through the centre of your mid-ships cleat and back to your winch on the side you plan to moor up on. You approach the pontoon and your crew steps off clipping this to a cleat aft of the centre line, as you slow the boat, turn your helm so the boat is driving the stern into the pontoon & control the line on the winch. Once you have the boat resting on this line you have control if it at the helm whilst your crew can secure the bow and then the stern. The beauty of this line is there’s a spring on and full control for adjustment is with the skipper on the helm.
The simple rules for getting alongside safely are really three easy steps.
1) Always take a look and make a plan before doing it! Think about an escape.
2) Tide is king, always, if you have strong tide, approach forward or going astern into the tide.
3) Position of the fenders, if you’re getting blown off, move them forward, don’t be scared to drive onto the fenders forward of the mid-ships to get crew and lines on the pontoon.
Still not sure if you could berth like a pro? Our close quarters berthing course will give you all the required skills to handle any berth, even in tight spaces.