The Mara Buoy promises to revolutionise mooring, making it safer and easier. We put it to the test
WHAT IS IT?
Boat hook in hand, neatly coiled line at the ready, you’re all set up on a perfect approach. Yet with a slimy rope in the water and a cumbersome boat hook over the pulpit, you still don’t manage to nail the pickup. What should be a simple exercise can turn into a disaster.
Scottish engineer George Smith decided the humble mooring buoy needed a rethink. The result is two products: the Mara Static Mooring Buoy (from £575) and the Mara Dynamic Mooring Buoy (from £899).
Unlike conventional mooring buoys, Mara Buoys include a central galvanised column that extends vertically above the waterline up to deck level.
Inside this, the bottom of the mooring line is shackled directly to the riser chain and the other end is fed through the top aperture, which is rubberised to protect against scuffs.
The static version has a set length of rope that hangs above water level; the dynamic buoy includes a small weight on the mooring line so that it retracts inside the column, leaving just the mooring eye on the end of the rope ready to pick up. With both models, the working end of the line remains well above the water and slime free, while also making the boat hook redundant.
The mooring line is free to swivel inside the steel column and a window in the column allows inspection of the mooring line. Because the working parts of the buoy are kept above the water, maintenance of them is greatly reduced, it is claimed.
HOW WE TESTED
We tested the two designs of Mara Buoy in Portsmouth Harbour with the Royal Naval Sailing Association, who are adopting the buoy on all their moorings.
We used a Westerly with a high freeboard and a Sigma with a lower freeboard.
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The wind was light but there was some tide running, and we tested in both wind with and wind over tide.
We made textbook approaches as well as some that were, realistically, less so.
The buoy was inherently much easier to see from the helm on final approach, right up to the last moment, so wild hand gestures weren’t needed. It was also easier to pick up without the need of a boat hook.
The Dynamic model’s built-in line inertia makes attaching on to the cleat smoother while a built- in swivel above the waterline reduces maintenance.
This is a fundamental revolution of an old design that makes life easier at every stage of the mooring process. We think it will be popular, despite a relatively high price at the time of going to press. www.maraefs.com