Below is some more research I did on this topic yesterday:
Looking around at solutions to the problem when the mooring ring lies flat on the surface of the mooring ball, such that it cannot be picked up with a regular West Marine rubber tipped boat hook, or even a traditional bronze ended hook, as was our problem in Bedwell.
Pickup from the stern -This seems pretty good. (Mike's approach.)
Lasso from the bow - Bottom paragraph.
This gives more time to get a line through the mooring ring. Which could be done from the dinghy. So long as the lasso does not immediately slide off the buoy!
At West Marine, Brad showed me a $150 metal buoy hook and line feeder gadget. It has a sharp end and would pick up the metal ring lying flat on the buoy. This is a pretty expensive device. I think I would like to try the other techniques first.
I looked at fishing gaffs. These would hook the ring off the buoy, but they are very sharp! I think someone could easily get skewered with one.
Great insights from both of you; thanks for posting!
Great suggestions. When I have to single hand, i run a mooring line from bow, outside all rigging/stanchions/everything, back to stern. Then I come along buoy and at last minute steer away from buoy which pushes my sailboat stern towards buoy hard. Then I lean over (precariously) and slip line through ring, and immediately as possible, make it fast on any nearby cleat. Now I can relax and assess. the line is made to bow and stern through buoy ring. eventually boat will drift back and buoy will be at bow. Then i can hook a bridle or clip to buoy.
Note, it is best not to just run a line through buoy ring. The chaffing is extreme, especially if you are sailing back and forth a bit. It is best if you have a nice strong buoy pendant with a good d-ring or metal clip. But second best to tie a knot at buoy. if you you just have a line looped through buoy it is going to get damaged by chaffing. Ask me about my CYC Doghouse award in 2017 if you want more details from experience.
Great Post sir. Thanks
We saw several boats struggle like us to pick up mooring buoys. A couple of times we saw boats send out their dinghies to do the job. Low freeboard boats were the easiest because the crew could lay on the deck to reach the ring. In the end I was thinking we could back the swim step up to a buoy and reach the ring from the step. We never tried that idea. (In the Caribbean BVI the buoys all have floating lines attached that are picked up with a boat hook and then hooked on the bow cleat.)
We have one of those gadgets on a pole to feed a line through a mooring buoy ring. It works great when the ring is elevated, but doesn’t work when the ring is lying flat on the smooth buoy top, because the gadget has to pass through the ring a few inches before being pulled back.
Our West Marine aluminum boat hook didn’t work either, because the yellow rubber tip would not hook under the galvanized ring. The old fashioned bronze boat hook has a more pointed end that worked better, but not great. We think a sharp fishing gaff would pick up the metal ring from a smooth topped buoy. The lasso idea below sounds like an interesting technique to capture the buoy temporarily.
Do you have any experience or ideas?
PS: We were pleased to see lots of bouys all in good condition in the San Juans and Gulf Islands. Buoys in the US had a recessed in the top that held the ring off the buoy surface and made it easier to hook with the gadget or boat hook.
Chris McMuldroch - Wind Dancer
Here is the lasso idea:
What is the issue?
Picking up moorings with the support of a crew requires a lot of communication and can be highly challenging for boats that are high above the water line. It is a prime time to lose objects overboard such as the boat hook, sunglasses, deck shoes up to and including a crew member. It is also a prime time to receive an injury by trapping a finger in a line.
Performing this singled handed presents a real problem. At the best of times, it will require significant skill and dashing back and forth from the cockpit to the bow. In tricky crowded waters with strong winds or currents, it may not even be possible.
Why address this?
Picking up moorings can present a challenge, never more so than for the single-hander and anything that makes it safer and easier has to be welcomed.
Picking up moorings can be vastly simplified by the use of a lasso.
This may be easily created by running a long, deep bight of a nylon weave mooring line out of the bow of the boat. Set the line up to run out through the fairlead on one side, around and outside of the pulpit and then back through the fairlead on the opposite side. Then belay each side leaving a good sized deep loop in between. It is essential that it is rigged outside of the pulpit or the load will come onto this structure and could cause damage.
When all is set up correctly find the mooring to be lassoed and slowly power the bow of the boat up and over it, then halt and simply drop the lasso down around it. As the vessel sits momentarily stalled the non-buoyant and floppy mooring line will sink around the buoy.
When the boat falls back the sunken line will pull itself straight around the mooring line underneath the buoy. This effectively turns the mooring buoy into a large toggle that is trapped by the bight in the line. The weight of the boat is then pushing upon this, which allows you to temporarily tether it to the mooring buoy.
With the boat under control, you may then more easily go about picking-up the mooring's pull-buoy and properly belay everything. Then release one end of the lasso and physically pull it around the mooring line to retrieve it. It is best not to leave it in place as it may get tangled up.
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