In any popular sailing spot, you can generally expect to see many vessels mooring at any given time. Some will be piloted by experienced boaters, while others will have less knowledgeable personnel onboard. If your clients are relatively new boaters, they are probably closer to the beginner level.
But regardless of how capable your clients are at handling watercraft, safe mooring is an essential skill to learn. Considering how many times it will be necessary to drop anchor during the course of their boat ownership, this is something that should be learned as early as possible. Even if they are protected by yacht club insurance, proper mooring practices will help prevent costly damages and injury.
This article provides a step-by-step guide for the safe and efficient mooring of yachts. Hopefully, the tips outlined below will keep your clients and their vessels safe and help them avoid common mooring mistakes.
Evaluating the mooring position
Whether the vessel in question is a motorboat or a traditional sailboat, it’s crucial to assess its performance and response when in motion. Longtime owners are probably already familiar with the boat’s characteristics. Even so, it is vital to know how it performs in a restricted space.
How does the boat make headway, and what’s the response like when doing a 180-degree turn? After executing a trial run and becoming thoroughly familiar with the boat’s movements, your clients can proceed to the next step.
Preparing the boat for mooring
Apart from having the wings and mooring lines ready, keeping the deck clean and free from clutter is crucial. It is advisable to store fragile items and potential hazards such as glasses, tools, and other sharp objects before mooring the boat. Hanging fabrics should be removed to reduce wind resistance and make the ship easier to maneuver.
Communication is another essential aspect of safe mooring. It is always a good idea to have a portable VHF system onboard for instant communication with the marina in case more instructions or assistance is required.
Briefing the crew
Your clients should brief the crew and assign them specific tasks. All crew members should know where they should be during mooring operations and what to do at every stage.
It is best to clear the deck of crew and guests when mooring. This ensures an unobstructed view and minimizes distractions. During mooring operations, non-essential personnel should remain in the cockpit or below deck.
Other essential mooring tips
Here are some other tips that could help ensure safe mooring:
Ensuring constant communication between crew members
Proper communication between all members of the mooring team is vital for preventing mishaps and misunderstandings. This will also help ensure a smoother mooring process.
Crew members should be aware of emergency signals and procedures and ideally practice them before the actual mooring. It might also be helpful to have crew members repeat specific instructions to ensure they are understood.
Identifying potential danger zones
The mooring team should identify snap-back zones and potential pinch points. Deck markings are useful for identifying these areas, although vigilance is still necessary to prevent mooring errors.
Crew members should also realize that their view of the mooring operation may differ from that of others. If there is a dangerous situation that only they can see, they are responsible for alerting the others.
Awareness of environmental conditions and hazards
Here are common safety hazards and environmental conditions to look out for when mooring:
- Slipping on oil from mooring equipment can cause a serious accident. It is vital to ensure that all equipment is well maintained and has an anti-slip coating.
- Even with anti-slip coating, decks can be hazardous when ice is present. Risk assessment should always account for snow and ice risks when mooring in cold water.
- Crew members should avoid leaning on or over the ship’s handrails. This reduces the risk of falling overboard while mooring.
- Inadequate lighting during mooring operations can cause accidents. All working areas should be thoroughly illuminated without shadows that could conceal potential hazards.
- Elevated winch gratings. All gratings and supports should be in good condition. Access steps should also be inspected for signs of corrosion or damage.
- Wind, tides, and currents. These factors can affect the ship’s movement and response. The excess strain placed on mooring lines could also cause them to break.
- This decreases visibility and makes visual communication between ship and shore personnel and between vessels extremely difficult. A good communication link should be established and tested before mooring under these conditions.
About Merrimac Marine Insurance
At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.