James Stevens answers your Questions of Seamanship. This issue - how to moor between two piles in tricky conditions
Bill has just purchased a Dufour 28, Ticto, 8.5m long with a fin keel.
He’s delighted with his new boat and equally pleased that he’s managed to acquire a mooring up the river between two piles.
The piles each have a vertical rail. Attached to the rail is a ring for the mooring warp that can move up and down as Ticto rises and falls with the tide.
Unfortunately Ticto’s two piles are on the inside row and on his arrival just after low water there is only a boat length or so of deep water from the mooring to the mud on the starboard side of the river.
Unhelpfully it’s a lee shore. The tide is flooding. There is a gap either end of the rows of four piles but his mooring is in the middle. The wind on his port bow is about 12 knots. He has no dinghy.
The crew think they can simply motor against the tidal stream to the uptide pile, secure the bow and let the stream take the stern down to the other pile.
Bill’s not so sure. What would you do?
Forget the crew’s idea; with a crosswind the stern will be blown away from the stern pile as the boat drifts back, well out of boat hook range.
However they were right to suggest motoring into the tidal stream but the stern pile needs to be picked up first on the downwind side.
While in clear water attach the stern warp to the starboard stern cleat. Bring the rest of the warp forward to the shrouds. Prepare a bow line on port bow and put fenders on the starboard side and one or two on the port bow.
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Approach from downtide, manoeuvring inside the piles and rest the starboard side by the shrouds against the stern pile.
Attach the stern warp and motor carefully against the tide, taking care to keep the warp away from the prop and rest the port bow on the forward pile and attach the bow line. Then adjust both lines to centre the boat between the piles.
Fore and aft moorings aren’t so common now but if you are faced with one it rarely pays to secure the bow line first.
It is also a good idea to approach from the leeward side of the stern pile.