Shorthanded or going solo?

Duffer

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I've regularly sailed shorthanded and found getting into a marina berth with a finger pontoon much easier with a short spring (attached to your centre cleat) with a fixed loop in the end which can be dropped over a suitable cleat by your crew using a boat hook. Gently motoring against it brings the boat nicely alongside while you sort out your other lines. You can thread the rope through flexible tubing to form the fixed loop and adding a rubber snubber to the spring also helps.

Due to regular crew having kids or cancer I had to chose to go solo or sell our 35' boat. I couldn't figure out how to steer, control the throttle and hook on the spring all at the same time. One suggestion was to use the same arrangement with fixed loop as a short stern line. As I normally reverse in to my berth (most modern AWBs reverse very accurately) I can stop the boat the required distance off the end of the berth with the engine, drop the loop over a suitable cleat and gently motor against it which again holds the boat alongside while I sort out the other lines. If the wind or tide are coming from the end of your berth then there is no real problem, if they are pushing you onto the end of your berth, or off your finger pontoon then you need to be much more careful and e.g. consider asking for help or leaving it until later. If you try this method I suggest you practise a few times with no wind or tide first!

Apologies to anyone who has been doing this for years - I haven't seen it mentioned before. There is an article about this method by Tony Edwards in the current Dufour News of the Dufour Owners Association. PS this assumes you have sensible cleats around your marina berth - unlike short bouncy French finger pontoons with only metal tubing to attach to!

Do you have any tips on this or other aspects of single-handed sailing? Somewhat to my surprise I quite enjoy going solo - it feels quite liberating!
 

snowleopard

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A possible technique when reversing into a berth is to have a short warp with a loop, attached to the midship cleat and led aft. As your cockpit comes abeam the cleat on the pontoon, drop the loop over the cleat. If you have the length set correctly the warp will come up taut with the stern in the right place (the warp is now leading forward of course). Then as before motor against it while attaching the rest of the warps.
 

doug748

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I use your original method, going in forward onto a midship/spring line. I have attached the loop (with hose tube over it to help keep it open, as described) to a short length of broom handle, in order to help me reach over the guardrails. The whole lot goes over the side and has not damaged the hull, yet . This works OK with my modest freeboard, but would be more of a problem with a bigger boat. On the continental pontoons I use the same set up with a giant ss carbine clip, this does frequently threaten the topsides, I have yet to figure out a way around this. The French, in particular, always seem to be one step ahead in designing ever more tricky mooring arrangements.
 

jb2006

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I've always used the forward onto a midship spring system, bringing the free end of the loop back to a coaming winch which controls the final attitude of the boat nicely. However, our new boat is bigger and doesnt have midship cleats.

All suggestions welcome
 

doug748

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I've only fitted midship cleats this winter. In the past I made do with the line led through the genoa sheet block - trimmed as far forward as possible on the track. This worked pretty well for all but the shortest of pontoons.
 

Searush

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[ QUOTE ]
I always sail our boat solo, with guidance from SWMBO /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

Sounds about right, I do the sailing - she does the passage planning (ie tells me where I have to go!)
/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
 

Duffer

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Thanks for the replies.

I have to turn rather accurately to get into my berth (forward or reverse) which is why Snow Leopard's method doesn't work for me but would work if you have a straighter approach.

A friend has a pole which jams into a socket attached to the fixed loop. A sharp tug removes it once the loop is over the cleat, and it works well once correctly sorted out.

Does anyone have any other techniques for dealing with French cleatless pontoons - I guess giant mooring clips would go over the steel tubing like your carbine clip. Why don't the French have mooring cleats?? Perhaps the EU could make them have them!
 

Gazza

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I usually sail singlehanded and use the midships spring method, but to make it easier when dropping the loop over the cleat I use the line I've made up for lassoing mooring buoys.

This is a length of chain with a line threaded through it, with the chain covered with an old bicycle innertube, stitched at each end. This enables me to lassoo a mooring buoy from midships (or even from the cockpit) and cleat it off while I sort out lines. Using the length of chain means that there is sufficient weight to get a reasonable distance when throwing it and it also opens out the loop effectively.
 
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