Mooring Up

What to do

Mooring Lines

The preferred method for attaching mooring lines to the buoys is to splice a soft eye in the end of the rope and put it on the same shackle as the marrying line (the line that joins your fore and aft buoys). Attach it to the buoy in the same way as the marrying line - with a cow hitch.

Make sure your mooring lines are the correct length,* it only takes six boats to have their mooring lines slack by one foot and somebody in the trot is banging against a buoy and expensive damage is caused. This will also help prevent the trot from snaking, with some craft lying across the tide.

Marrying Lines

Untie the marrying lines (the lines between the buoys) in the middle and leave them slack when the yacht is on the mooring. This helps extend their useful life.

When you cast off again make sure that you have tied the marrying line so that the two loops are tight together, tying them loosely is another cause of slack in the whole trot.

The join in your marrying line is possibly the weakest link (sorry) in the trot, as we are relying on a bit of string. The joining tail needs to be passed through the end loops several times before making off securely (four half-hitches is not too many).

If your marrying line parts while you are off your mooring it can be very difficult to re-moor when you return, possibly on a wet and windy night with the lines wrapped around the buoy. If someone else has to deal with it from a dinghy, while you are away, it could be quite dangerous for them.

When your boat leaves the mooring always make sure that your mooring lines are not left loose in the water, waiting to foul a propeller. We recommend tying them off with a short length of cordage tied through the lay of the marrying line.

Ensure that your mooring lines are more than adequate. New mooring lines only cost a small fraction of the expense and inconvenience you could face if your old ones part. If your mooring lines are more than three years old inspect them closely for signs of wear, especially where they attach to the buoys and where they pass through fair-leads.

Protecting your lines

It is a good idea to use plastic pipe over mooring lines at points of chafe such as fair-leads (held in place by short cords passed through the lay).

Rubber shock absorbers (sometimes called mooring compensators) fitted to lines will help prevent snubbing and reduce wear and tear. The only downside is that you have to fit them before splicing eyes in the ends of the line.

*To calculate the length your mooring lines should be: measure the distance between your fore and aft cleats and subtract this from the overall length of your mooring (as given on your mooring allocation form) and divide by two. You may have to make allowances for: different distances inboard to mooring cleats or samson posts; bowsprits, boomkins; angles of the lines to stern cleats. Easy really.

What not to do

  • Do not use the marrying lines for mooring.
  • Do not fix your mooring lines to the buoy with shackles and hard eyes (thimbles). We know that some members like to use shackles and eyes to prevent wear to their mooring lines, in a permanent marina berth I would certainly do this, but please do not use them on our mooring trots. Shackles can chafe through the marrying line at the buoy within a few weeks, rendering the whole line wasted, and endangering the whole trot when the line parts unexpectedly (perhaps while you are away).
  • Do not moor using a turn of rope through the shackle, it will chafe through quickly (possibly within a few hours), so always 'cow-hitch' the loop to the shackle, this prevents movement and stabilises the rope attachment.
  • We do not recommend the use of knots to fix your mooring lines to the buoy, knots reduce the strength of ropes by at least 50% (well made eye splices retain 90 - 95% of the strength of the rope). If you need a temporary mooring line use a larks head or a bowline with the loop cow-hitched to the shackle.
  • Please remember that broken or untied marrying lines can cause considerable problems to the whole trot including damage to yachts, possibly yours.