The first part of this series dealt with learning how to hold your boat steady by balancing it against the wind and tide.
Learning to pick up a mooring buoy is the perfect way to practise this and prepare you for the next step of picking the buoy up.
First, look how surrounding craft are lying to buoys and approach from a similar angle. Bear in mind that all craft will sit at slightly different angles.
Hang back from the buoy by at least a boat length so you can establish your balance angle and work out how quickly your boat is responding to the elements. Article continues below…
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Once nicely balanced you can begin your approach, keeping your speed low so your crew has time to pass clear instructions on the buoy’s precise location.
Successful mooring buoy work relies on good communication with your crew as the buoy is likely to disappear from the helmsman’s view as you approach it.
You may be able to communicate verbally but I prefer to use hand signals as the person on the bow is usually facing away from you and their voice is easily lost in the wind.
Different buoys have different attachment means. Some have a pickup loop you can grab with a hook and secure to a cleat.
On larger motor boats, the bows are often too high off the water, so you may need to reverse up to it or use a lasso to drop round the buoy and lift it up to boat level.
Reversing up to the buoy also works well for buoys which just have an eye on the top to attach to as the person on the bathing platform can more easily thread a line through it.
For short stays in calm weather, you can simply rig a line from the stern but for longer stays you may need to rig a long line all the way from the bow to the bathing platform taking care to ensure it runs outside all the rails.
Balance the boat stern to the buoy, reverse slowly towards it, thread the line through the eye and walk it from the stern back to the bow, pulling on the line as you walk to rotate the boat so you end up secured bow on. Careful use of the bow and stern thrusters can aid this proceson a heavier boat.