The Zen Art of Picking up a Mooring
Single handed

You can see it, but it’s blowing hard. There’s coral all around, and the beach is just there! Geez, this wind is going to push you right onto either if you don’t get this mooring first time. The pressure is on....

No, it’s not. Why? Because you are a clever and zen maritime hippy and you’ve prepared for this, haven’t you? There's no need to rip the arms of your sailing compainion or pull her through the pulpit of the boat as she hangs on to the mooring line for dear life.

Followed this guide to pick up a mooring single handed, in any breeze or tide! First time, no fuss. All by yourself. Here’s how.

What you need:

    A boat hook
    A strong rope that reaches from your bow to your stern and which has a diameter that fits the self-tailing bite of a winch in your cockpit.

Step 1:

Make one end of your rope fast on the opposite bow cleat. I always set up port side because I’m a left handed dude and seems to just prefer it. It’s up to you. So I make fast the end of the rope on my starboard cleat. Feed this into the bow roller (under the anchor and chain) and outside everything along the port side of the boat, through the lower lifeline and back onto a winch in the cockpit. Make sure the rope is not hanging in the water, and both ends of the rope are on board.

Step 2:

Get the boat hook ready and lay it on the side of the boat near the cockpit winch clear of any lines on the side you have prepared with the bridle.

Step 3:

As you approach the buoy you’ll want to keep it on the windward side so you will be blown away from it. Things can turn very ugly very quickly if you approach the buoy on the leeward side and the boat decides to float over the buoy and drag the associated pick up line and float into your rudder and propeller arrangement. Definitely a way to disrupt your zen.

Step 4:

With the buoy abeam the yacht, slow to a stop alongside it. Reach down with the boat hook from the cockpit and pick up the float and mooring pendant. Grab hold of it and put the boat hook down.

Step 5:

Bring the pendant under the lower guard wide and take the bridle off the winch and thread it through the mooring pendant. Secure the end of the bridle back on the winch. At this point, make sure you arrest any forward motion of the boat so the mooring doesn’t end up behind you. As the boat settles, wind and tide will push the pendant to the bow. You can click in a little astern to help the boat fall back if the wind is light.

Step 6:

Once the pendant has made it to the bow and the boat is hanging to the wind, make your way up to the bow and slip the pendant onto the cleat. Secure as you normally would. At this point you can release the bridle, or do as I do, use the bridle as the mooring tether. I bring the winch end up to the port cleat and tie it off, then pass the entire length back through the pendant and tie it off to the starboard cleat.

Step 7:

In the morning, when it’s time to leave, I simply let go of one end of the bridle from the bow and I’m free.

The great thing about this technique is that it works if you’ve got crew too. There’s no need to come up to a mooring in a 25 knot trade wind and then proceed to pull your crew mate through the pulpit and off the bow. Pick up the mooring like this each time and no-one needs to get anxious or strain themselves before having sundowners. Everyone aboard will love you for it.

Zen boating peeps.