James Stevens considers a problem sent in by a Yachting Monthly reader who asks how to rig a yacht's mooring lines to avoid chafe

Jenny and Ted are cruising with their two teenage children on board their 10m yacht Oyster Catcher. Forecasters have been warning of wet and windy weather for the next few days. The forecast is for gale-force winds and rain arriving in the evening and continuing through the following day.

The wind will freshen from the south then veer to the west as low pressure passes to the north on its way eastwards. It is clearly a forecast for yachts to be moored in a safe harbour. Unsurprisingly,
the nearest marina, which is situated conveniently on the sheltered side of the estuary, is full and has a waiting list for finger pontoons. They will, however, permit yachts to raft three deep on the outside pontoon.

This is the only option for Oyster Catcher. When they arrive there is one space left, rafting outside two yachts. The wind is freshening so Jenny and Ted are relieved to have found a sheltered berth, despite the inconvenience of two yachts inside.

They secure to the outside yacht with bow and stern lines and springs. It is clearly a forecast for shore lines. The problem is that there is no clear lead from Oyster Catcher to any of the pontoon cleats, which means the shorelines will be rubbing against the adjacent yachts. In such unsettled weather, ropes chafing against the yachts inside could cause damage. Should Oyster Catcher rig shorelines, and if so, how?

How to rig a yacht’s mooring lines to avoid chafe

A It is possible to avoid chafe by using springs on the shore lines, but it definitely requires careful adjustment.

A long warp and a short line are carried to the pontoon. One end of the warp is secured to the pontoon cleat by the next raft. I prefer a round turn and a bowline for this, and it is courteous to secure it under the lines of the adjacent raft in case they leave first.

The short line is secured to the mooring warp with a rolling hitch a few metres from the cleat. The other end of the short line is secured to the cleat inside Oyster Catcher’s raft so that when the shoreline is attached to her, the warp does not touch the bows or sterns of the nearby yachts.

It takes some adjusting but it’s usually possible to create a clear lead for both bow and stern lines from the pontoon cleats to the outside yacht without causing any chafe or damage on the other yachts. The shore lines should take the weight of the yacht during the gale but not be overtightened or the outside yacht will be taking the weight of the inside ones.

Most yacht skippers and crew are willing and helpful when yachts come alongside a raft, and will help with the lines. In return, it helps if incoming yachts return the courtesy by making every effort to ensure their lines are secured without chafing or tangling.

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